Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued Wednesday against the need for national leadership on reopening schools, praising one private academy for not waiting for guidance on how to reopen safely.
“You know, there’s not a national superintendent nor should there be, therefore there’s not a national plan for reopening,” DeVos said at a roundtable on schools in North Carolina with Vice President Mike Pence. The event was held at Thales Academy, a year-round private school where Pence and DeVos also met with a small classroom of fourth graders.
“Thales is a great example more schools could emulate,” DeVos said. “You didn’t wait for guidance from the Department of Education. You didn’t ask for permission. Your families wanted kids back in school, you wanted kids back in school, teachers wanted to be back in school, so you figured out ways to do it, or do it safely.” Private schools in general have smaller class sizes than most public schools, just one reason why it could be easier for them to create reopening plans.
“More education leaders here in North Carolina can pivot as well, and do what it takes to keep everyone safe and do what’s right for all students,” DeVos continued. “There’s too many schools in this state and others that are ignoring parents and students and keeping schools closed.”
She went on to argue for school choice, and said that for parents who took their children out of public schools, “the tax dollars meant to support their education should go with them.”
DeVos said she’d called for school choice for more than three decades, and added that the pandemic “really welcomes it.”
“It frankly demands it,” DeVos said. “Students need it, families are demanding it, and teachers need it.”