United States: Transforming Education – The Devos Factor

Now that debates have faded over the definition of student performance and whether guns in schools are necessary to protect against grizzly bears, everyone is settling into the reality that Betsy DeVos now leads our nation's educational institutions. She will help shape education in the country for the next generation, and to say that change during this time is inevitable states the obvious. Depending on your perspective, the anticipated changes signal either a retrenchment to inequity or evolution to a fuller opportunity for all students. At a minimum, you can expect a significant shift in a number of educational priorities. 

Portfolios Of Choice

Expanding school choice appears to be the number one priority for DeVos. In nearly every public statement since her nomination to Secretary of Education, DeVos has advocated for increasing the number of charter, private, virtual, and similar types of schools, saying they will bring value by creating more opportunities for children. She does not see similar growth for traditional public schools. 

In these views, DeVos has the backing of the White House; President Trump's State of the Union address emphasized school choice as an educational priority, calling on school vouchers as the ticket out for currently underserved African-American and Latino student populations. While DeVos may have good intentions by seeking new solutions for those attending schools with track records of institutionalized failure, some have questioned whether she is best suited to spearhead the type of transformative change she is proposing. 

DeVos has demonstrated she is not afraid to court controversy before even starting down what will inevitably be a difficult road to successful implementation of her goals. On February 27, 2017, DeVos released a statement after meeting with presidents from several historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), celebrating HBCU as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." She explained, "they are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality." 

Some people embraced the spirit of this sentiment, while others chose to focus on the context surrounding the origins of HBCU – a time when colleges and universities in this country barred admission of black students. Rather than duck and run from the high-profile controversy, DeVos continued engaging in the conversation, explaining at a public event the next day, "HBCU history was born not out of mere choice, but out of necessity." 

Regardless of how you feel about DeVos' views on this and similar matters, her opinions cannot be ignored given her role on Trump's executive team. Should the new administration actually create a national school choice voucher program as she has suggested, opportunities will unfold for independent, charter, private, virtual, and religious schools. Now is the time for these schools to determine how well they are positioned for the anticipated significant increase in enrollment. 

How Private Schools Should Prepare

We recommend convening a core team to review your school's strategic plan and identify whether your school desires to position itself for the possibility of expansion. If so, the core team should begin to develop options for how to support enrollment increases. Make sure to include board members, lead administrators, facility and IT managers, and legal counsel in these conversations.

Schools taking steps to position themselves now will undoubtedly be able to benefit most readily from a national school choice voucher program. It is key, however, to make sure the strategy your school develops is generalized and flexible enough to adapt to developments from a national and state level, and does not result in premature expense and costs.  

It is also important to work with your legal counsel to understand the impact that accepting a voucher from the national government will have on your school. Private schools accepting vouchers that come from money defined as federal financial assistance by Congress are subject to obligations under various federal laws, including Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and similar laws that may change how the private school operates.

The Fate Of Public Education

As DeVos moves toward implementing greater school choice, there is one segment of the educational sector likely to encounter negative consequences: public schools. DeVos appears not to view a decline in public school enrollment as relevant to the school choice conversation. In states where enrollment numbers dictate revenue to public schools, the consequence of school vouchers is potentially catastrophic. Indeed, public school systems are now running with significantly less revenue due to enrollment decline occasioned by the charter school movement.

For the most part, public school systems have not fully positioned themselves as competitors in education since the onset of charter schools. Many times the inability to "re-create" the public school system is due to regulatory requirements, such as free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements for special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Other hurdles spring from systemic inflexibilities created through labor contract obligations. On that latter point, much work is recommended. 

Key to sustaining each public school system during the DeVos era will be the ability of boards of education, superintendents, CEOs, treasurers, CFOs, union leaders, and lead teachers to truly collaborate. What public schools need is the type of transformation anticipated under DeVos – a completely new option. Public schools must quickly re-invent themselves today to remain alive and competitive tomorrow. 

Similar to the advice provided above for private schools, we recommend public schools convene a core team comprised of board members, administrative and union leaders, and legal counsel to identify ways to realign relationships and working perspectives to better support school learning environments. The goal should be to attain the true "community of learning" parents and their children want, where students grow and succeed. The fate of our public school system is now squarely in the hands of leaders at the local level.

Final Thought

The current political environment requires our schools to actively lead in innovative ways to better support students, cultivate and foster diversity in the educational setting, and ensure continued excellence in education. Hard decisions may be needed in the next four years. 

It is important to prepare now by reviewing your school's mission, strategic plan, and operations in order to align your decisions and actions in a way that will enable the school of the future to emerge to meet your present vision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.