DeVos touts school choice, STEM for $4B in grants

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos put forth a new set of priorities Thursday for states, schools and universities competing for federal grant money.

The priorities include school choice, science and technology, special education and school safety.

The Education Department awards approximately $4 billion per year in new and continuation competitive grants across some 80 programs. Education secretaries have historically used these competitions to push their priorities.

"It's a little nudge," said Chad Aldeman, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners. "This allows the department to nudge the education field toward these priorities."

There are a total of 11 priorities on DeVos' list. After receiving public comments on these proposals, the agency will settle on one or several of them.

Promoting school choice has been a key focus of the Trump administration. School choice refers to providing parents and their children with options besides their district public school, such as charter schools, vouchers or education savings accounts to attend private schools.

DeVos and her supporters say these options better serve students' individual needs and can benefit children whose local schools are underperforming. Critics say charter and private schools don't necessarily outperform neighborhood schools and they lack accountability mechanisms.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate committee devoted to education, criticized DeVos' priorities as a way to privatize education and said the department should be focusing on supporting local, public education.

"Since her confirmation hearing, I have voiced concern that Secretary DeVos would abuse her position to prioritize privatization, and that's exactly what we're seeing," Murray said. "Instead of listening to the millions of students, parents and teachers who stood up against her extreme ideological agenda, her proposal will allow her to prioritize applicants that would siphon taxpayer funds away from the public schools that serve the vast majority of students."

Must Read

Lawyer: Timbuktu residents felt shame after sites...

Aug 24, 2016

By reducing historic mausoleums in Timbuktu to dusty piles of rubble, Islamic extremists desecrated...

Dick Bruna, 'spiritual father' of rabbit Miffy,...

Feb 17, 2017

Dick Bruna, the Dutch illustrator and artist who created the bestselling series of children's books...

Ukraine takes Russia to UN court over rebel...

Mar 6, 2017

Ukraine's deputy foreign minister on Monday accused Russia of financing terrorism by shipping arms,...

Anti-Islam populist Wilders protests outside...

Mar 8, 2017

Anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders says Turkey's foreign minister is not welcome in the Netherlands...

Turkey dispute timing may benefit Dutch premier...

Mar 12, 2017

Just days away from national elections at which he is seeking a third term in office, Dutch Prime...

People also read these

Boost for Dutch ruling coalition as unemployment...

Jan 19, 2017

The number of people registered as unemployed in the Netherlands fell by more than 100,000 last...

Dick Bruna, 'spiritual father' of rabbit Miffy,...

Feb 17, 2017

Dick Bruna, the Dutch illustrator and artist who created the bestselling series of children's books...

The Latest: French candidate Macron condemns...

Mar 12, 2017

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron "strongly condemns" what he calls provocations from the...

Turkish leader says Dutch will 'pay the price'...

Mar 12, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is intensifying his dispute with European nations

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian...

May 18, 2017

The International Court of Justice has ordered Pakistan not to execute an Indian naval officer...