Realizing the American Dream through Educational Opportunity.
By Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education.
“I don’t ask to be rich…all I ask is for my children to have a better life than me.”
That’s what Ms. Rosario, a ride sharing company driver in Pennsylvania, told me recently. In order to afford her youngest daughter’s education, she drives before and after her day job. Because her daughter was worried about being bullied at her assigned neighborhood school, Ms. Rosario sends her daughter to a local Catholic school.
“If I have to work three jobs, I’ll do it for my girls,” she says. And I know she would. No parent should have to work three jobs in order to send their child to a school that works for them.
Families like Ms. Rosario’s are on my heart every day as I work to expand educational opportunities for our students. Their education, and their ability to pursue opportunity and the American Dream, shouldn’t be determined by their income or ZIP code.
No two kids are the same – all are special, with their own abilities and needs. A school that is right for one child may not be the best fit for another, even if they are siblings. And parents know what is best for their children. We should empower them to send their children to schools that share their values or ones that will help them flourish and thrive.
When families have choices in education, studies show their children do better in school. It’s especially true for minority and low-income families whose children would otherwise be stuck in chronically low-performing schools. A recent report from the Florida Department of Education found that Latino and African American students in charter schools had smaller achievement gaps with their white and Asian peers than those in traditional public schools.
Across the country, families are rightfully demanding more freedom to decide the education their child receives, and states are responding. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Texas have recently passed pro-student legislation to increase educational opportunities, and more states are looking to follow suit in the near future. We’ll continue to highlight and cheer on all states that are responding to the needs of families and students.
Expanding educational opportunity shouldn’t be limited to K-12 education either. At the Department of Education, we’re committed to increasing and highlighting the multiple pathways students can pursue after high school. With the cost of a traditional four-year degree on the rise, many high school graduates are finding this path may not be for them, and that’s ok. There are many institutions that can equip students with the skills to continue their lifelong learning journey and tackle 21st century jobs. We just need to make sure students become aware of them.
Equal opportunity in education is the key to ensuring every child has the chance for a better life than their parents. The rising generation represents 100 percent of our future; they warrant 100 percent of our efforts. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for Ms. Rosario and her daughters, and for every family. They deserve nothing less.
Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th U.S. secretary of education. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 7, 2017 after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump. Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents. She is especially passionate about reforms that help underserved children gain access to a quality education.