DeVos gets an earful from Michigan school superintendents

Besty DeVos meets with local superintendents

Betsy DeVos had a simple question for a couple dozen Michigan superintendents who had her ear during a round table discussion today: She wanted to know how she can best serve their students.

What did she learn? Control is important.

"I left the meeting reassured that giving local leaders more control is important to improving education for every student in America," DeVos, the West Michigan native who is U.S. Secretary of Education, said in a news release from the U.S. Department of Education.

DeVos reportedly met with the superintendents during an unpublicized event in Grand Rapids, according to the news release.

The names of the superintendents were not released. Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he didn't attend because of a prior commitment.

It was part of a trip to Michigan that on Tuesday included a visit to the Van Andel Education Institute, where she heard from teachers during a round table discussion, and a visit to Grand Rapids Community College.

So what did the Michigan superintendents, all of whom were invited to attend the round table, have to say to DeVos, who was a controversial cabinet pick for President Trump because of her ardent support of school choice and lack of background working in education.

Here are the topics that were discussed, according to the release put out by DeVos' office:

  • Recruiting, honoring and retaining effective teachers.
  • Giving teachers professional development and skills that aren't taught in many higher education institutions.
  • Addressing regulatory burdens that limit flexibility for local educators and pull school leaders out of the classroom.
  • Implementing personalized learning solutions that are designed to better meet the needs of students.
  • Providing services students need to grow and thrive in and out of school.

"We had a very productive and insightful conversation," DeVos said in the release.

Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent of the Grand Rapids Community Schools, said in the release that DeVos' office called her last week asking if she would host a meeting with 25 superintendents from across the state.

"We invited a diverse group of superintendents from all corners of the state representing urban, suburban and rural districts," Neal said.

Neal said superintendents shared their "issues, concerns and ideas specific to the federal budget, policy issues, regulations, reporting requirements, assessments and more."

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Contact Lori Higgins: 313-222-6651, lhiggins@freepress.com or @LoriAHiggins

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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