Ciboski: Move Focus From Individual Students To Reforming Schools

May 31, 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies this past week. Democrats attacked the Trump administration’s cut of $9.2 billion from the Department of Education and its giving $1 billion for states and school districts that voluntarily adopt school choice programs.

Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, ranking Democrat on the committee from Connecticut, attacked the budget cut as “cruel,” “inhumane,” and “heartless.” She added that she will fight the proposed budget with every fiber of her body.

Secretary DeVos asserted that the budget was in line with President Trump’s promise to return authority over education policy to the states, school districts, and parents and away from the federal government. She also said that the Obama administration invested $7 billion in school improvement grants that targeted the lowest-performing schools and the result was zero improvement. Secretary DeVos also said that programs that are ineffective and are better supported at the state and local levels would be removed. This includes federal funding for Special Olympics.

Democrats on the committee said that the administration’s proposals were about shifting funding from public to private schools. DeVos countered that the focus should be on individual students. If a student is not doing well at a school and a parent does not have the finances to try a different school, then educational policy should be to help find ways to make another choice possible.

I agree with the critics who argue that the focus instead should be on reforming the public schools.