Getting outside of ed

Over the last two weeks, Secretary DeVos has spent more time outside of the Department — traveling across town and to several states — to engage with students, parents, educators, and local policymakers. 

On March 24, she visited Valencia College in Osceola County, Florida, participating in two roundtable discussions focused on the college’s career training and dual enrollment programs.  First, she heard from college officials, business leaders, and current and recent students on the importance of job training for construction and manufacturing in today’s competitive market.  Later, she heard from high school students earning credits from the college.  “Community colleges are a tremendous option, a tremendous opportunity, and a tremendous on-ramp for many students,” the Secretary asserted (video). 

Next, on March 28, she was back in Washington, D.C., for a special Women’s History Month STEM event at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum with more than 400 students and teachers from the area.  Joined by Ivanka Trump, the Secretary participated in three demonstrations with students and a panel discussion featuring NASA astronaut Kay Hire and other female NASA engineers and leaders.  “Every child should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential, which is why today’s celebration of Women’s History Month and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is so important,” she noted.  “The students attending today’s celebration are a reminder that the next generation of engineers, astronauts, and innovators is among us, and we owe every child the opportunity to choose a school that best meets his or her needs.”  To cap the event, participants watched the movie “Hidden Figures” (statement and video). 

Then, on March 29, the Secretary delivered remarks at the Brookings Institution and joined a panel on women’s empowerment at the White House.  At Brookings, she spoke at the release of the think tank’s Education Choice and Competition Index.  “Our nation’s commitment is to provide a quality education to every child to serve the public, common good,” she stressed.  “Accordingly, we must shift the paradigm to think of education funding as investments made in individual children — not in institutions or buildings….  The Index is important and unique because it’s very parent-centric.  Parents are the first and primary point of accountability.  The report makes the distinction that simply having a school choice program is not enough.  It must be accessible, transparent, and accountable to those who need it most” (remarks and video).  At the White House, President Trump delivered remarks.  “From the untamed frontiers of the Western Plains to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, American women in every generation have shown extraordinary grit, courage, and devotion,” he emphasized.  “Our present generation stands on the shoulders of these titans….  Only by enlisting the full potential of women in our society will we be truly able to make…America great again” (remarks and video). 

Also, honoring the Month of the Military Child, the Secretary visited Kimberly Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 3.  She observed classrooms, read to students, and met with school officials and parents stationed on the base.  “My father was in the U.S. Air Force, and, as a result, he and my mother moved around quite a bit due to his service,” she stated.  “My mother often taught students who shared the challenge of having a parent or parents serving in the military, deployed abroad or who had given the ultimate sacrifice to our country.  It is in the vein of these challenges that we honor the children who have a parent or guardian serving in the military.  And we renew our commitment to ensuring these students are afforded the opportunity to receive a world-class education…”(statement).