Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appealed to lawmakers to focus funding on students, instead of just schools, in a Monday letter that anticipated the end of her time as education secretary.
DeVos reminded leaders in the Senate and the House that “education must be re-oriented around students and their families,” urging the lawmakers to zero in on what students need over the needs of schools.
“Let me urge you instead to provide for students the opportunity to pursue meaningful, challenging, and rewarding learning opportunities,” DeVos pleaded. “Let me encourage you to fund education —that is, learning – not a Department of Education. Let me urge you to fund students, not school buildings.”
DeVos wrote that acknowledging the “failures of the underperforming K-12 system” is “long overdue,” emphasizing that these failures disproportionately affect low-income students or students of color.
“Today, more parents are more upset, distraught, and concerned about their children’s education than ever before. Many students – particularly our most vulnerable students – are suffering immeasurable harm as a result of schools failing to reopen and failing to educate,” she continued. ” The data speak for themselves about levels of learning loss from which many students will never be able to recover.”
“Quite frankly,” she continued, “the ‘system’ has never figured out how to remediate students at scale, and I’m concerned it is incapable of achieving any kind of academic recovery now.”
DeVos called on lawmakers to continue bipartisan efforts placing local communities in charge of education, “resist calls to federalize anything,” to use opportunities provided by the CARES Act to establish state block grants, to encourage voluntary donations, to “hold schools accountable when they are not helping students learn and grow,” and more.
“While my time as Secretary is finite, my time as an advocate for children and students knows no limits,” she wrote. “For more than three decades, I’ve been involved in education, as a volunteer, an advocate for children, and a voice for parents. I will continue to work with you in doing what’s right for America’s students. Because for me, it’s simple: I trust parents and teachers, and I believe in students.”
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