Betsy DeVos Admits She Is Using Pandemic To Impose School Choice Agenda
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos openly admitted on Tuesday that she is using the coronavirus pandemic to implement her private school choice agenda, according to Salon.
During an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, DeVos was asked if she is attempting to "utilize this particular crisis to ensure that justice is finally done to our kids and the parents who choose to send them to faith-based schools."
DeVos replied: "Yes, absolutely. For more than three decades, that has been something that I've been passionate about. This whole pandemic has brought into clear focus that everyone has been impacted, and we shouldn't be thinking about students that are in public schools versus private schools."
The secretary’s “comments came as she defended her decision to redirect coronavirus relief funds away from public schools with high numbers of impoverished students to private schools which tend to serve wealthy students,” Salon noted.
The formula for dispensing funds “has long allocated some of the funding for poor children who attend private schools,” but DeVos instructed schools to “calculate how many total students private schools serve rather than just the number of poor students.
The move drew bipartisan criticism:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who chairs the Senate Education Committee and is typically a DeVos ally, said Wednesday: "My sense was that the money should have been distributed in the same way we distribute Title I money. I think that's what most of Congress was expecting."
House Education Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLaura (D-CT), and Senate Education ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) wrote in a letter to DeVos on Tuesday: "[The guidance] seeks to repurpose hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars intended for public school students to provide services for private school students, in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress.”
DeVos has defended her actions, with Department of Education spokeswoman Angela Morabito saying in a statement that the secretary "is helping Catholic schools just as she is helping all schools; this does not mean she is favoring any one type of school over another."
"There is no question that this crisis has impacted all students — no matter what kind of school they're enrolled in,” she added.