Betsy DeVos Favors Student Disability Funding Be Directed to Individual Students

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has argued forcefully for the role of states in making decisions about schooling in their jurisdictions versus control from the federal level.


She used the state of Main as an example during her 2017 confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate. She pointed out that Maine operates schools on islands and in remote rural areas characterized by a unique landscape. That makes a “one size fits all” approach from the federal level untenable.


DeVos said that to suggest the best options for Maine are a fit for a state like Indiana is an absurd proposal, yet that’s the system the public education system entails now. For DeVos, the greater the level of local control the better it is for schools.


Maine Senator Susan Collins asked DeVos if she would support fulfilling promises that were made in the 1975 individuals with disabilities act that would pay for 40% of the additional costs associated with educating kids with special needs.


DeVos said that she would. She added that this was an area that could be singled out for a “different approach.” She suggested that the “money follow the individual student” rather than being paid into state coffers.


It’s a view consistent with what Betsy DeVos has been advocating all along. She believes running schools should be highly local. That includes giving individual American families control about where they can send their kids to school. DeVos often likes to say that a family’s “zip code should not choose their educational system for them.”


DeVos believes students should have the option of enrolling at private, parochial or innovative charter schools rather than the public school whose district a family is located within.


To help make that happen, DeVos favors a school voucher program to help defray the cost of tuition at alternative schools.


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