tv Education Secretary Betsy Devos Discussion on Education in America CSPAN July 16, 2020 3:00pm-3:33pm EDT
watch the tv on c-span2 this weekend. >> education secretary betsy devos talked about some of the challenges and the education system due to the covid-19 pandemic. this event was hosted by the georgia public policy foundation. ... i'm the president and ceo of the jordan policy foundation and on the behalf of our entire staff, we are america and joined us you've attended this event in the past, your will weather this year it's different. we have had to adapt to so much in our society.
in fact the theme for this year's event, wisdom, justice and adaptation. as you probably know, that's the state's motto and adaptation is the right focus for this your session . and speaking of the sessions, today is the opening event. over the next several weeks, we will be back here on tuesdays at 11:00 a.m. to explore the ways of georgia, families, businesses and the government are adapting to a changed world. it will cover the following areas. education, budget, land use and transportation, the economy, housing and healthcare. in exciting panels of experts lined up for each of them and we hope you'll be able to join us for as of those as you can. more grateful to be joined by some key sponsors without which homework cannot be possible. they are our presenting sponsor, and our platinum sponsors, flaws
and family foundation and verizon breed we think each of them of the support of this event. or please to have been able to offer an outstanding lineup of speakers to you are audience at no charge. if you are so moved however, we would appreciate your voluntary support as well. and you can visit debbie ww . georgia policy .org/donate to make a tax-deductible contribution. during this morning's program and was a follow we would like to hear questions from you in the audience. you consummate this to us in the chat or q&a boxes on your screen. just type your question there and we will try to get as many as we can in the time we have. now without further delay, is my great honor to welcome our keynote speaker for this openi opening, betsy. she is alone press time this morning and so i'm going to skip most of her bio here and i think
she is well known, the full agenda for this entire series including full bios for her and the other people are available on our website, georgia policy .org. so i would like to just go ahead and launch right in. first welcome madam secretary. virtually to georgia. >> thank you kyle i really appreciate the opportunity to join y'all . the kudos to you for doing things differently. kyle wingfield: both were all doing what we can these days. along this line to start by talking about the particular challenges of the 2020 has right to education meddling georgia but all across the globe. before we talk about this fall, i would like do so from educators the spring is adapted to unforeseen circumstances. what you learn about education from that experience. sec. betsy: i think it goes without saying that nobody was
really prepared to need to make the kind of pivot and it changes all of us were forced to make. in mid march of this year did an education and educators were certainly no different. and students for that matter, having to go from full speed ahead, in a winter spring semester into something entirely different. i think it was very in education, whether it is k12 level or higher ed level. to be able to learn from one another in a share those learnings in real time. and i've had countless conversations with school chiefs, higher educated leaders. with governors, once a really
involved with trying to do the right thing on behalf of their students. and if talk about how to do that effectively and efficiently quickly. i think that name of the game so to speak is the fact that those who are really willing and able to embrace the need to change quickly really fared quite well did and we saw particularly in higher education, from what we did, we immediately did everything we could expand aside possibility and autonomy to the state and local districts and hydrogen institutions as much as we could under the laws and regulations that were directed to follow and extending those to the state. i know that was very well received because higher ed
institutions work able to pivot quickly. so their ability to quickly move into full-time distance online learning, was much, much easier and more frictionless, than it was for those in the k - 12 level. and at the k-12 level we saw a lot of really hard work that went into trying to ensure that their students could take continue learning but we saw frankly, very uneven application of that. and in my hope is there was a lot learn from those few months where the necessity was there and in some cases the willingness to do everything it took was there in many cases. in many cases it was there but in some cases, there was also sort of a propensity to give up
quickly because there wasn't so different. and was so unexpected. with that said, we are very much focused on doing everything we can do here to continue to encourage and urge states to do that next right thing for their students. to keep in mind we are serving here in helping to prepare. that is the current generation for future leadership in our leadership. kyle wingfield: sorry about that, almost on my video. i had to hit unmute. you have been very clear that you expect schools to reopen the doors. and you talked a little bit about the sprint the spring. in a kind of honest assessment in many ways unsatisfying experience in the spring for many of the country.
tell us at school do reopen the doors or if at some point they have to revert to remote learning. are there specific things that you hope that they will carry from that spring experience and do better this fall. sec. betsy devos: i think one of the real obvious learnings is that in pretty late in cases with the education, there have to be a much larger posture around being nimble and flexible and ready to adapt based on current circumstances. we talked about the last number of days the importance of kids getting back in school. we know that this is not a matter of their health versus not health. it is really a matter of health versus health. we know there are too many kids today suffering because of the isolation in the distance from their peers and their teachers,
enemy miss several months of learning in some cases, in many cases. and we know that there are many measures of a child's health. but as we about going into the fall, it is imperative that kids get back into a routine and into a forward leaning learning posture to continue to develop themselves. and we know especially for kids from the vulnerable situations, from low-income backgrounds, those who do not have a lot of resources. we know those are the ones that are the most negatively impacted by not having that school routine and that ruling the focus on continuing to move ahead and learn. also we talked about some of my observations were.
i think it is absolutely the case today, parents have a much clearer understanding of what their children's experience was the spring rated they have better perspective on how their particular school did with continuing to provide education opportunities. and they're looking now for that leadership on the part of education leaders to ensure that the kids can go back to a forward movement and learning new materials and with the expectation that when we go back, there is going to be full-time learning and full-time operations acknowledging that if there's an area where there is a flare, may need to be a pivot for a period of time to a
distance environment. but again, without expectation that kids are back in school, in routines and that schools are able to respond and react quickly to whatever the reality is in that particular area. if you look across the country and we know that and in many communities and counties across the country, frankly they could go back today based on lack of having a lot of infections in their neighborhoods are in their communities. and so i think it is really imperative for parents and education leaders to come together and talk about how we will continue to move into new routines and acknowledging what we have learned and what we have to be prepared for. but with a posture of god to keep moving ahead. our kids are counting on us to
get this figured out. kyle wingfield: a broader but insistent theme from you the education and for americans to engage in rethinking education and as we think about adaptation, we want to think about things don't just at the current circumstances but that can inform the way we change how we deliver the services. going forward. so are there any adaptations or innovations from this experience if you believe can carry over well beyond the pandemic. sec. betsy devos: i think there is one thing that we have learned, pretty much everybody has learned. that is technology really can be and should be an enhancement to education. we can use technology in really important ways that maybe have not been anticipated or thought of before read and when we do
not look at technology as a threat but really as a tool, really no end to the way that education leaders can give out how to enhance their skills and their experiences due to this technology. i think also there's a new realization that there are other ways to measure learning and education is a thing instead of measuring the amount of time in a less. there are competency and mastery measures so you are measuring what students are learning and achieving versus the amount of time spent somewhere. we saw a lot of that deployed in the last few months in places
where there was already an orientation around more distance and online learning and i think the experience of the students in that case, have been the positive around that have been, i think passed on and shared with others much more broadly. at younger elementary aged students, whose learning at a distance and sitting in front of the computer for several hours a day, that experience is not necessarily the most ideal one at a distance. so all that to say, i think there are different ways to embrace and use technology both in the classroom but also in the
need or necessity to pivot to a distance environment for whatever the reason might be or whatever the problem referencing the family might be. and i think that is one of the big learnings. and the lack of access to many kids after that. and so our focus on training to ensure that going forward, that is a priority for states and communities to ensure their students have that same kind of opportunity. talk about families and education over the years has been an example for us for a couple of weeks ago, yes supreme court and a ruling on this topic. tell us a little bit about what that decision means. sec. betsy devos: is a very significant decision and for those who are not familiar with the case, this cases versus
montana. it was brought forward by a number of parents in montana that had chosen to have their children in schools that were working for their children through the tax credit scholarship program buried in montana supreme court really discontinued the program because some of these families were choosing to send their children to faith-based schools. and they said that was unconstitutional under the montana constitution. the supreme court and came down very much on the side of parents in this case. in the reality that you cannot discriminate against a school or another entity based on the fact that it is religious in nature and so is very clear. if you're going to have programs
to give parents choices in education, then they have to be open to any participants and not discriminatory on the basis of religion. so this has broad implications. it relates directly to what is called the blaine amendment, the 37 states have had. and it will go after that particular prohibition or that particular impediment that many states have been citing in years pass as a deterrent to expanding or offering programs to empower parents to choose their child's educational setting. it is very broad implications. a very important implications and very encouraged that states that currently have programs, they're only going to be able to strengthen them all. an estate that happen hesitant
to go into that area, will no longer have that impediment for that perceived impediment to encumber them. kyle wingfield: as you speak about dates and choices, there are some states, georgia as one of them that has a few programs that offer choices for students and some students do not have those. so i wanted to talk about a federal proposal that is out there. that is the education freedom scholarship. tell us how that would give us options pretty. sec. betsy devos: and just to set the stage more broadly, we know there are many children today across the country that are in schools that are simply not working for them. but they also come onto too many of them are in situations where they don't have any other choice. their family cannot move to a
district where there is a better school on" or they can't find or put together the tuition necessary to get into the school that their parents might choose our wish for them. there has been a huge impediment to all too many families. we have seen the detrimental impact of having kids it stuck in places that are not working for them. and also many of them, giving up on their futures because it's either a mismatch where they are or their simply not in an environment that one conducive to the growth in their educational attainment and well-being. so the choice programs and event started in states across the country and there are increasing numbers of them. more and more states are taking
this on an offering these opportunities to the families. but we also know that in lots of places, is a much greater demand and there is actually supply. so thinking about how do we fundamentally ensure that all kids have an opportunity to access and education that is going to help them grow and develop into everything they can be, and trend. at the federal level we do not want to create a federal program greatest of the role of the federal government to be directly involved in any child's k-12 education. but we can help come along side and do so in a way that can enhance states whatever the are doing and provide them additional resources to expand what is in almost every state that has a program, the demand
exceeds supply. in states with have not yet started a program, there's a real significant opportunity to do so with funds that would be supplied through the form of a federal tax credit and those could be funded voluntarily contributed by individual or businesses in a pool that would then be distributed to states that want to participate. and we know that most states would not just deny we see it is a huge advantage to expanding the choices that we need today. i would like to encourage people to think broadly about the kind of choices that could be offered brightest and most often when we talk about school choice, we think about this catchwords used
like vouchers, tax credits, educations savings accounts and those are all mechanisms to provide choices. but let's say that you're in a rural area rated and you have very small community. very small school it is not really practical to think that with a school choice opportunity that you would be another two or three school buildings pop up in a community that already has a very small population to begin with rather you might see the choice opportunity being manifest and giving kids that particular community access to courses the date might not be able to take today because their schools too small to be able to do it. so they could take a course on line and most likely from one of
the finest instructors in the world. and to do so right in their own school building, their own school community. or maybe there is a handful of kids in that school learn very differently. there's no reason that a small micro school could be formed up right there alongside the one that already exists in the community for those kids who learn differently to be able to access their education no way that works for them. but in perhaps you're in a region that has a very significant opportunities post 12 graded secondary education. that don't require a four-year degree but maybe very attractive to kids in high school already. prepare them to graduate high
school and enter a short term, six months or one year program and then going to a career in my beat very exciting and full of opportunity for them. these scholarship funds can be used to help enhance that particular track and perspective as well. so i would really like to encourage folks to think very broadly about what choices and opportunities can mean. i do that in the context of the art well into the 21st century and we look at how our world is changed in the last quarter of a century and how much is different than 25 years ago rated in and how similarly we approach especially k-12 education to 25 - 50 even 100
years ago. so it's time for us to introduce more opportunities and more perspectives and more approaches to preparing young people to be everything they can be in their futures and to do so in a way that empowers families to make those choices and make those decisions on behalf of the kids that they know best. kyle wingfield: thank you for that and i know that you had last-minute scheduling change in this morning we have about five more minutes. some are going to get to a couple of our audience questions here quickly before you have to go. i'll start with this one that we received which is many conservatives and education have long advocated for assessments is a need to better inform parents and teachers from an academic proficiency. especially important considering they didn't assess children this past school year. and firstly month, department of
education announced they would be seeking a waiver for assessments for next school year. in many democratic states are quickly following the lead. and summing cannot comment on attending or pinning waiver, can you give us your view on assessments and their place in education. but from a federal perspective and how important they are. kyle wingfieldsec. betsy devos:r that question kyle. i think measuring and assessing is very important. in multiple dimensions read and pretty much every area alike. and while we have given a waiver or assessments for this past academic year. i have been on record multiple times urging states to consider some sort of a snapshot assessment when they come back to school this fall to understand for each of the students is. how much learning to the loser not lose and where are each of these kids, they going into fourth grade worried we know
that the transition from third to fourth grade is a critical one in terms of student's ability to read. and their literacy levels. my orientation and i understand the criticisms that them and launched over the years by both parents and educators around too many tests. and it certainly sensitive to that but i do think that knowing and measuring and understanding is the only way we can then adjust and fine-tune for the future steps in knowing where students are. is of critical importance for everyone. i think parents know and understand it in an intuitive way and at the same time they know that having a test every other week is not the answer.
there is a balance to be struck there. and it is an important one. kyle wingfield: very good and so one more question. it is been disheartening to see the much of the guidance for the georgia district, the cares act funding, use 25 of the old system and fill budget gaps rather than to directly support students in that spring and over the summer. what is your view on how states utilize that money and happening future funding support bills be crafted too far directly aid students. sec. betsy devos: i am definitely a federalist and i know and understand the importance of these states and local communities role in the decision-making around education. i have also and we as an administration have been very clear that this spring clearly unearths a lot of realities about how k-12 education has
been experienced and how we have actually accomplished it for a number of years or not in some cases. it has helped to reveal what deficiencies we have and where we need to do better. forty things differently. in my urging has been for educators at the local level to be very creative about how they use these fond this to address what the needs are based on the downstream implications of the fire is the pandemic and all of the closures created when to use these funds creatively, and in a way that is going to enhance the educational experience for the student going forward.
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