Fixing Broken Education System & Giving Students More Choice—Department of Education Sec Betsy DeVos



the Trump administration has been pushing deregulation and government but what does this mean for the Department of Education we know that the education secretary Betsy DeVos is a perennial advocate for charter schools and school choice but what is their strategy for college and higher education especially in the context of the booming jobs market and American students have been doing poorly relative to students abroad what innovation is she championing to improve this this is American thought leaders and I'm Yaya Kelley today we sit down with Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos we discussed her guiding philosophy of education freedom what steps she and her Department have been taking to promote and implement it and her responses to some of the critiques leveled against her notably she outlines her plan to empower all Americans not just the wealthy to be able to choose the right schools for their children Betsy DeVos wonderful to have you on American thought-leaders thank you so much John happy to be here so you know we're here to try to find out what's been going on at the Education Department and in particular I really want to understand your philosophy behind what you're doing we're gonna cover a whole range of things but why don't you tell us you know your about your core approach to to what you're trying to accomplish here sure well my work for over 30 years has been advocating for students to be empowered to find their right education fit so more education freedom is the bottom line and that's true for k-12 students as well as for students beyond high school this administration this president embrace and support multiple pathways to higher education to a successful career in adult life and we want to be very intentional about facilitating the best ways to do that and opening up the freedom and opportunity for students to do that and then where did your passion for education freedom come from well it began really when my oldest son who's now 37 was beginning kindergarten okay I got involved with as a volunteer with a small faith-based school in the heart of our city and the more I got involved the more I realized that for all the students and families who were there there were probably 10 or 20 other they represented 10 or 20 other students families who wished that their children could be at that school and I realized very quickly that the answer was not going to be continuing to scholarship and and just hope that this might happen that it really all fundamentally was around policy and it was just unjust that I could make those decisions for my children but these other families these other parents weren't able to make those decisions so that got me involved with really advocating for more education freedom and empowerment for families so let's talk about so obviously your inspiration began in in you know K to 12 education and so forth but I wanted to talk a little bit about the higher education that you've done you've had a number of I guess a steps forward at least in my view on the higher education side while you can during your tenor you speak to that a little bit well yes we this administration this president really believes that students need to find the best path for them beyond high school today we have over 8 million jobs going unfilled in our country many of them not requiring four-year college degrees and yet there's a mismatch there's there's really siloing between education experiences and we're aiming to try to help break down those silos and break down those barriers so that students can really access the right education for them and and that involves all kinds of Career and Technical Education opportunities you know we look at education as the higher education is like a highway with lots of off ramps and on ramps an off ramp to go and get additional learning and additional training or skills to then get back on and into a Lane of your choosing and ability to get off again in the future we really need to approach education today as a lifelong learning proposition and yet higher education has been very much it's been pretty static in its approach so we're introducing through regulatory efforts as well as some of these statutory initiatives that the administration supporting to bring about a lot more innovation and creativity and freedom into the higher ed world as well so tell me a bit about how you know these education and business partnerships have been developing well you know business and industry has a real issue a growing issue and that is not enough people to employ with the opportunities that are available and so I've in many of the places I've visited I'm seeing where those silos that have long been constructed between business and the education world are beginning to come down because business is reaching out in a new way and I think educators in many many places are beginning to realize they have got to partner with with business to provide the right kind of education for the opportunities that exist today with an eye toward tomorrow because again this is not a static situation what the opportunities are today could be non-existent in five or ten years this is a rapidly changing world and education has got to be nimble and flexible right along with the rest of the world so you know president Trump has been talking a lot and implementing a lot of deregulation you know kind of across the board how is house the Education Department working on this I know this is something that you've been vocal about as well well this is an area we've been involved with but you know there's certain regulations from the past administration that have been really counterproductive for this multiple pathways approach and so part of what we're doing is deregulating there around gainful employment borrower defense those are all kind of insider terms but really taking we re leveling the playing field so that all opportunities are available to students you know today only 30 less than 30 percent of higher ed students would be considered traditional higher ed students we have to acknowledge that there are many adults you know doing their education while they're holding full-time jobs raising families and so we have to we have to make sure that they have the opportunities to access the kinds of education they need to continue to build their careers and we're really intent on doing that we've also started a regulatory reform effort around accreditation which is really the gatekeeper too much of innovation and we believe that with the reforms that are in process there's going to be a lot more innovation and creativity brought into the higher ed world because of these reforms or because of you know the results of these reforms so it's a little abstract for folks you know reforms around accreditation right for the for the you know practical person on the street what does that mean that means that that we went when implemented there will be more opportunities for more suppliers of higher education to offer have a much wider array of offerings to meet students needs meet students where they are whether it's a you know a competency-based approach that you can go through as an earn a credential or a degree or a certification as quickly as possible or do it over the course of time while you're holding down a full-time job and doing you know in raising a family and and and just holding this out there as a goal for the future really bringing in a lot more alternate and creative approaches to meeting the needs of students of all ages so there's this you know big big booming jobs market right now as we speak and there's also been discussion in the administration around basically providing two degrees or maybe some other form of accreditation as you describe for tech for you know technical studies and so forth the standard for a year or three year you know degree bachelor's degree it doesn't surly cut it for the a lot of the needs that are that are out there and how are you working on that right well again a lot of it comes down to removing regulatory impediments so that new providers and new approaches can be can come into the higher ed world and offer solutions for students today for these specific okay for these for these technical things okay excellent well let's so let's jump back to k12 and and and let's talk about this new education freedom scholarships and Opportunity Act which you you know obviously is coming out of Congress but but is something that you're championing yes well the president has long talked about the need for all students to have empowerment and freedom to make the right choice for they're the right fit for their education in k-12 and so the proposal that we have is to establish a federal tax credit so not a new program or new Department or new bureaucracy simply a tax credit pool that individuals or companies could contribute to part of their federal tax bill for the year and States would decide to participate or not so not a federal mandate but assuming a state wanted to offer more opportunity to their students it would create programs with the funds for that state from this federal tax credit pool okay to ultimately offer families scholarships to choose the right fit for their child's k-12 education so we've encouraged people to think very broadly about what these choices could look like maybe it's dramatically increased dual enrollment opportunities you know or early college earning opportunities while they're in high school maybe it's apprenticeships in high school maybe it's more Career and Technical Education opportunities in high school it could be course choice if you're living in a small rural community that cannot afford to have a particular class and doesn't have enough students for a particular class with a teacher you could bring in that course choice for that you know the student could choose to buy a course with the greatest teacher located in Singapore perhaps okay really thinking very broadly about introducing a lot more options and opportunities and empowering students and their families to make those choices so you know let's take an example you know the it are the scholarship awarded to the student is it awarded to the school how does this work yeah the the legislation would require that the students and their families are ultimately empowered with the scholarship so they would make that the funds would be in their control to make the choice that was right for them and and was going to be the right fit for them and so so how is this coming along you know i the support is continuing to grow in both of the chambers it's been introduced in the house by congressman Bradley burned from Alabama right and then in the Senate by Senator Ted Cruz I has quite a few co-sponsors in both chambers and they and we are continuing to educate members about this opportunity and build support for it and we know that it's going to take some time because it's a it's a new concept it's different but the reality is we have got to do something different for students in k-12 education we have it today the United States is 24th in the world and reading 25th in science and 40th in math as compared to our peers around the world astounding numbers when you say it's not it's not acceptable and for 50 years at the federal level we have invested over a trillion dollars just at the federal level alone to try to improve the and to narrow the achievement gap between those on the highest end of the spectrum and those at the lowest end and over a trillion dollars later that gap has not narrowed one bit so the solution is not more resources from the federal level it's really doing something completely different and and giving parents and students the freedom they need to pursue the right fit for their for their education in k-12 and and that's you know a very important point right that a lot of the especially k-12 education decision-making is done at the state level so you're thinking about how can the federal government actually support what they're doing as opposed to and force what people did do things well and yes so more than 90 percent of the funding comes at the state and local level only you know 8 plus percent at from the federal level yet the federal footprint around regulation and mandates and control is much bigger than that 8 percent I see and so our goal is to get out of the way of states as much as possible and to encourage States to implement programs that are ultimately going to empower families and students to make the choice that's right for them so you know in this educational freedom realm you know going back to what you started with you've been you've been such a great advocate for charter schools for a very very long time they're great choices right right and you've also been criticized heavily for for some of this I mean I may be oh I'd like to give you an opportunity to speak to some of those some of these criticisms this is the this is just a short round up from from me looking at what's out there one of the one of the things I saw a number of times is that it that charter schools promote almost like a resegregate of schools something in this realm another thing was that it's turn schools into greedy for-profit enterprises as opposed to their you know pristine educational mandate another one is that actually criticism of charter schools I've seen is that just their success is simply because of the students that are going there would have been successful anyway they've just been kind of moved out of the public schools and I've been involved with charter schools for as long as anybody and first of all charter schools are public schools parents and students are choosing them nobody's forcing them to go to the charter school and charter schools can't choose they're students so a charter school there's one criticism that says they're you know they're skimming the best of the students off the top right right that's absolutely not the case in fact in my experience it's the students that have been struggling most in their assigned school that choose these schools with their parents and that find the right fit for them maybe that charter school is has a different pedagogical approach or maybe it has a convening idea that's exciting to the student but the reality is every single family that is choosing to go to a charter is doing so because they have chosen that right they're not forced to go there and and they they are happy and satisfied if they're not they'll go somewhere else if they have that again that freedom and to me that's the best measure is parents are choosing this students are choosing this and there's over a million kids on the wait list for charter schools nationally right there aren't enough charter schools we need more of them so so they're obviously people go into charter schools as well they have to they have to turn a profit they have to be successful financially and that's actually that's a misnomer actually most charter schools are organized as not-for-profit entities so you know it is the status quo it's it's really the the ones who have a vested interest in protecting the current system that are making all of these allegations are absolutely false okay and they're and they're you know they're they're trying to you know get have people pay attention to something over here in the hopes that they won't actually zero in on what the real issue is the real issue is there are kids in schools today to it in assigned schools that are failing miserably because they are not in the right place educationally for them okay we have got to do something different to free those kids up to find the right place for them education freedom is not maybe the only answer but it's an important way the direction that we have got to take giant steps in going as a country in order to have all of our citizens realize their fullest potential so you know you mentioned you started off in a faith-based school right and I know that you've actually one of your I guess passions also has been ending religious discrimination in schools or some in this realm you tell me a little bit about that like how you came across this and why it's important to you well administration-wide we are really intent on ensuring that all individuals are free to practice their faith as as they are motivated to and that in particularly when it comes to education that religious entities are not discriminated against as as they have been and and frankly there are amendments in 37 states today that they're called Blaine amendments that I believe is the you know last acceptable form of bigotry in this in this country that has not been eliminated by court decisions there's an there's a potential of that happening with a couple of court cases that are working their way through the system today but we have got to make sure that in every every realm in every way possible we are ensuring individuals freedom to practice their faith in their religion another way you know we're gonna have to be wrapping up a little bit in a little bit I just want to cover a few other areas here one in another area where you've been you know active is sort of updating what are called the title 9 rules are basically around sexual harassment and so forth and can you just speak to what you're hoping to accomplish with the new rules which are I guess under under review right now right sure yeah well this is a process and we are in the period right now where public comment was received and the team is reviewing and responding to all has to respond to all of those comments as part of the process so I can't get too far into the weeds on this particular issue but here's here's what the motivation was I had listening sessions with students who had been themselves victims or survivors of sexual assault or sexual misconduct and I also had sessions with those who were falsely accused I had sessions with administrators and those who had to adjudicate these things on campuses and the guidance that the previous administration put forward which was not a regulation it was simply a letter that was sent to all institutions of higher education with a mandate that they follow it was one that was not just or fair to any party ultimately and let me just again repeat what I've said many times one sexual assault is one too many and one falsely accused student is one too many we need to make sure that the rules and the framework around this are fair to everyone involved and that institutions know what their responsibilities are within that and and that there's clarity there and that you know the rule of law is ultimately adhered to yeah we're looking forward to seeing actually what you know what comes out I heard there were something like two hundred thousand comments you're coming through right now so that's that well it was it was a significant amount okay um and and the team is doing a great job working on this oh that's great um so let's just jump to another thing I've been watching that I think as all of us have or maybe not all of us but the Democratic presidential primaries the debates and so forth and one of the things that really struck me is there seems to be a lot of people advocating for complete you know student loan forgiveness a lot of people was probably attractive to some people I'm it's very scary to others that I've talked to you as a concept of you know fiscally what are your thoughts on this well let me just first say that I mean we have a major with rapidly growing student debt amounts over 1.5 trillion dollars today in student loan debt many students who are struggling to repay their loans but the answer is not just you know forgiving a bunch of student debt there's nothing free with that somebody's going to pay for it and the notion that you know 2/3 of Americans who are not pursuing higher education or don't have student loans paying for one-third that have on it on its face is just not the right approach and medicinally think about all the students who have faithfully paid off their student debt right and then you know somebody who hasn't been quite as faithful or maybe responsible getting it forgiven I mean the notion of this is just it's crazy to me okay we think I think instead we need to be taking an approach that will first of all give students a lot more information and a lot more power over they're actually taking on the debt so we're doing a number of things through federal student aid first of all we put the FAFSA the student student aid form okay on a smart phone no they said you know everybody all the naysayers said Oh can't be done certainly can't be done in the time frame you said it was done in the time frame we said it's on the it's on the smartphone you can go and fill out your student aid form there we're going to be adding information to that over the coming months first of all very hopeful that Congress will get its job done to dramatically simplify the FAFSA form okay but we're adding information to the college scorecard which is also a part of that that app that will you will be able to go to any institution you'll be able to look up any institutions by a program so programs within institutions figure out what it's going cost you to pursue that program and what you're likely earning potential is if you complete and graduate from that program so giving students a lot more information when they are taking deciding where they're gonna go what they're gonna do and and giving them a lot more real-time information about their student debt as well so if they're gonna draw down more of the allowable student debt what the implications are what that what the that means for their payout long term giving them a lot more financial literacy tools to hopefully make better long-term decisions and we're also again I think the whole reform of accreditation and allowing for a lot more innovation and creativity in higher the higher ed world I think is also going to bring forward providers who will not be as high cost and will will be able to meet the needs of students in a new and different way so that combination from you know from a department perspective those are things that we can continue to move ahead on but we're very hopeful that that Congress will help with some of the pieces that would require a little more statutory work on their part also we'll make sure to put up a link to this to this app which is already out there it is okay fantastic well so any final words you'd like to share with our audiences before we finish up well I think thank you for this opportunity again I think just in conclusion the goal of this administration is to really bring to support students in a lifelong learning journey in pathways that are going to fit and be right for them and give them every opportunity to live full and meaningful lives okay with with their families and in their communities and and ultimately as contributors to our greater society Betsy DeVos thank you very very much thank you you

27 thoughts on “Fixing Broken Education System & Giving Students More Choice—Department of Education Sec Betsy DeVos”

  1. Welcome everyone, to Jan Jekielek's interview with Dept. of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, for American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸! Please take a look at the description for related videos, and be sure to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE if you like what you're viewing!

  2. Off subject but, I'm a woman, I'm not gay either, but Betsy has pretty legs. LOL I believe parents should have choice of schools for their children. That way schools can compete by making their schools better and compete for tax dollars. The left will fight this tooth and nail, because they want to use tax dollars to indoctrinate our children and University students.

  3. Two major impediments to education are Common Core and teachers unions. Neither of which were discussed here.

  4. Jan Jekielek is a superstar interviewer. Love the wide range of issues. At times topics that I would consider mundane, always make them interesting.. I watch 99%…Thank You.

  5. Get the government out of the education system, go back to teaching instead of indoctrinating. Just like it was back in the 50's and 60's, when I went thru school.

  6. What would education be after a successful civil suit over public schools, college and primary instructors using class time to advance their political and social justice agendas? Say you have a child, first year college student enrolled in a course for computer science. The instructor spends 20 out 60 minutes preaching about how disturbing capitalism is for society. You're paying for 60 minutes of computer science and the school is not exactly delivering on the course description. It is fraud when the institution allows their employees to indulge themselves during working time.

  7. What a good Education Secretary with Fixes! How about Firing Teachers for NOT doing their Jobs (actually TEACH our children)… Requiring students to Speak English, instead of American Kids being Pushed to the side while Teachers go work with Non-Speaking… While Citizens Taxes Pay. No Teachers under 40.. and all the Kids 18-25 Should be Required to Serve our Country. Military, Peace Corps, etc.. Students today should SUE their Colleges for leading down the Moron Activist Path & stupid Degrees which Only put them in Debt without Anything to help them get Real Jobs… I like Betsy DeVos more now, Thanks American Thought Leaders. Sure wish THIS was on National TV instead of the Conspiracy Theorist like CNN or MSNBC… Fake News & Conspiracy Trump Russia which we know now was All Bull-Crap!

  8. Thank you for this interview.I have asked a question and this is the first response I have gotten to what is Betsy DeVos doing for our education system.
    as I just finished listening I will go back and read listen to this as I tried to digest what I'm hearing. So far it is very hopeful I feel.

  9. The Trojan horse is wheeled in….
    This is a total ploy to total control. (-Not that it isn't already) There are no boards' or parents'/teachers' decisions to be made here; its ALL Common Core. Where is Charlotte Iserbyt when you need her….. https://youtu.be/cbDClJ7wv70

  10. I remember her Dad, Rich DeVos and his friend, Jay Van Andle, the creators of the great American company, Amway with their made in America, don't sell and transport watered down products and develop a system that home bound people could "earn a few extra dollars a month to buy their kids a new pair of shoes". I still get teary eyes as I remember her Dad saying that, when he gave a speech one time. He said he was sitting in a school show, one day(he always blocked in the whole year ahead, his kids school things he wanted to attend them all) . Anyway he said he was sitting in the audience when a new person to the school sitting next to him, had no idea who he was, when she proudly pointed to her son on stage, and she said how proud she was that she had a little home Amway biz that gave her the money to buy her son a new pair of shoes for this special concert. He said he got tears in his eyes..
    As that was exactly what he felt he was put in earth for. Amazing families, both the Amway creators were. Sadly missed, both Dads…but their caring legacy goes on. Good to see this very clever lady has carried on her father's dream to better the lives of people, by education, leading to better jobs by better education.

  11. only on a i phone? the controversy with i phones is an issue… there are many concerns with education world wide…

  12. Education has never been less expensive, in spite of the spiraling price. Education institutions are a big scam, nowadays.

  13. The Education Establishment despises the woman, so maybe she's on the right track. As a professor, all that's come down from the powers that be has been to keep education inefficient and lower the standards. It's a constant battle, with half of my colleagues WANTING lower standards so more of their students will "succeed."

    "Don't be so hard on them."
    "This is way easier than my professors were on me."

    "Progress" in education is a process of eliminating difficult topics from the curriculum. These kids aren't dumber than we were. They respond to challenge and are grateful for the challenge, when they see all their big mind muscles in the mirror, and they succeed AFTER they "get past" me.

  14. look at amazing polly's vids on this issue concerning sexual abuse with the head master in the school system!!!!!

  15. she's right… STOP TEACHING political correctness… How to hate the country and START teaching READING, WRITING and Arithmetic…

  16. Wish you would have her on again! A very intelligent woman!
    Take Fluoride out of the water systems and all products…the IQ will increase in our children!

  17. This woman is THE DEEP STATE SWAMP. She is so wealthy I don't understand what her real motivation is and how did Trump end up digging her up? Of course Trump's picks so far has been the biggest Deep State Swamp creatures

  18. I worked in social services/ special education/ juvenile corrections for a total of 15 years in WA state and I was bullied out (along with many others) because we were not liberal enough. The bullying included lack of training/ changing rules and not giving us time to adjust then calling us in to the office because the client is right and we were wrong.

  19. Another bureaucrat, blah blah blah.
    Just get the Marxists out of our education system at all levels, that is all we need.

  20. Secretary DeVos is a national treasure. I wish her great success. And thank you Mr Jekielek. I remember working with my son in the 1980s and getting so frustrated. Unless you attended class with your child you never knew what the teacher wanted. And then there was the political indoctrination. Have you read the story about a 10 year old Tarboro NC boy that was disciplined for saying "Yes ma'am" to his teacher recently? Unless you walked into school with anything less than a James Mattis's attitude you got no where.

  21. I applaud all of Sec. Devos’ efforts and strategies, however there is very little the government can do as the poor education of our students is less of a political/government program problem and much more of a cultural problem. I have lived in Japan for over 10 years and the difference between the commitment to education of Japanese students vs. American students is quite obvious — especially compared to students in mostly minority populated areas. Conversely, as Japan gets slowly Westernized and Social Media begins to influence the younger generations it is also obvious this is having a negative impact on the education here. More unruly, undisciplined children are becoming a problem in schools and education is suffering. I have acquaintances who have taught “K-12” here in Japan and they always lament the steady decline of the discipline of the students. Japan is well on its way to being Americanized … in all the wrong ways! Too much McD’s and Starbucks—many more fat kids. Too much Social Media. Kids are now uploading videos here in Japan mimicking the idiocy they see Americans do. Licking ice cream at the store and putting it back into the freezer at the store, for example.

    This is all cultural decline and one wonders what Government policy or program can change bad parenting and the never-ending assault on decency portrayed online.

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