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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush makes case for Trump’s education secretary pick

10

January

WASHINGTON - Jeb Bush is making a push for Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Education, arguing Betsy DeVos will be an advocate for school choice.

“Betsy is a champion of families, not institutions,” Bush writes in a letter to leaders of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “For her, local control of education decisions means local control. She trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child's best interests, and she believes in providing every parent with the resources to pursue those decisions.

“I’m confident that, as Secretary, Betsy will pursue every opportunity to improve all of our nation's schools and empower states, districts and parents to maximize the number of high-quality learning opportunities available to our kids.”

DeVos’ policy positions have sparked fierce opposition from Democrats and Sen. Patty Murray, the lead Democrat on the committee, said the nomination should be postponed until DeVos’ ethics review is complete. On Monday night it was announced the hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, will push to next week.

Bush writes that he has known DeVos for more than 20 years — in recent years she has served on the board of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education — and that DeVos “has become the voice of mothers and fathers who for too long have lacked one in America's education system.”

He goes on to explain “two false narratives about the parental choice movement are pertinent to this nomination and to the future of our education system.”

Read his full letter below. Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

It is a privilege to support the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

I have known Betsy for more than 20 years. She started out m education at the grassroots level, one person making a difference for children in one school - The Potter's House in Grand Rapids.

That experience touched her personally, and she made the commitment to become informed, and to make a difference as much with knowledge, ideas and leadership as with generous charitable support.

Her efforts on behalf of families expanded throughout Michigan and then the nation.

Simply put, Betsy believes deeply that each child should be equipped with the knowledge required to succeed in life. And her passion rims deepest when it comes to extending this opportunity to disadvantaged children, those who struggle and fail in classrooms that don't meet their needs while parents look on helpless to do anything about it.

Betsy has become the voice of mothers and fathers who for too long have lacked one in America's education system.

Two false narratives about the parental choice movement are pertinent to this nomination and to the future of our education system.

One narrative says those who support school choice are hostile to traditional public schools. Such simply is not the case. Rather, the choice movement seeks flexibility for putting children m the right learning environment, embracing all high-quality providers. I can tell you that Betsy celebrates every child who succeeds m the public school system and supports increasing the choices given to parents within this system.

The second narrative says choice weakens traditional pubUc schools. Here in Florida, public schools have improved dramatically over the past 16 years, even when a vast increase in options were given to parents, including charter schools and private school scholarships. And notably, those student groups that have traditionally struggled in school made the greatest gains, be it on the fourth grade NAEP reading results or successful participation in Advanced Placement and industry certification courses in high school. Instead of diminishing student outcomes in Florida, choice has been a positive game changer.

Betsy is a champion of families, not institutions. For her, local control of education decisions means local control. She trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child's best interests, and she believes in providing every parent with the resources to pursue those decisions.

I’m confident that, as Secretary, Betsy will pursue every opportunity to improve all of our nation's schools and empower states, districts and parents to maximize the number of high-quality learning opportunities available to our kids.

In my almost 30 years of involvement in education reform, I have never met a person better versed in policy or more effective in pursing reforms that benefit children.

There is no one more qualified to lead the U.S. Department of Education. I encourage the swift confirmation of Betsy DeVos.

[Last modified: Monday, January 9, 2017 11:25pm]

    

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