tv Education Secretary Betsy Devos Discussion on Education in America CSPAN July 16, 2020 1:17pm-1:49pm EDT
votes expected as 11:30 a.m. eastern. the senate convenes at 3:00 p.m., resuming debate on the nomination of russell vought. the senate limited debate and advanced his nomination on a artyline phot of 77-44 -- 77-44. education secretary, betsy devos, talked about some of the challenges in the education system due to the covid-19 pandemic. this event was hosted by the georgia public policy foundation. >> good morning.
welcome to the 2020 georgia legislative policy forum. i am the president and ceo of the georgia public policy foundation. on behalf of our entire staff in the board of trustees, we are very glad you joined us. if you have attended this event in the past, you are well aware this year's edition is quite different. we've had to adapt to different circumstances. to this yearseme event, wisdom, justice, adaptation. is theeve adaptation right focus for this year's session. .oday is only the opening event over the next several weeks, we will be back here on tuesdays at 11:00 a.m. to explore the ways georgia's businesses, families, and environment are adapting to a changing world. we will cover education, the
budget, land use and transportation, the economy, housing, and health care. panels ofciting experts lined up for each of them. we hope you will be able to join us for as many of those as you can. we are grateful to be joined on this journey by some key sponsors, without which our work with not -- would not be possible. --y are presenting sponsor our presenting sponsor and our , like verizon.rs we thank each of them for their support of this event. if you are so moved, we would appreciate your voluntary support. you can visit georg iapolicy.org/donate to make attacks deductible contribution deductible contribution. we would like to hear questions from you, the audience. you can submit them to us in the
check for the q and a boxes on your screen. we will try to get to as many as we can in the time we had. without further delay, it is my great honor to welcome our keynote speaker for this opening session, the u.s. secretary of education, betsy devos. she is a little pressed for time this morning. skip most of to her bio. i think she is well known without that. the full agenda for this entire bios ofincluding full her are available on our website. i would like to go ahead and launch right in. welcome, madam secretary, virtually to georgia. >> thanks so much. i appreciate the opportunity. kudos to you for dean things differently -- doing things differently. >> we are all doing what we can these days. >> let's just start by talking
about particular challenges that 2020 has brought to education, not only in georgia and the u.s., but all across the globe. i would like to ask what you saw from educators the spring -- this spring as they adapted to circumstances. what you learned from that experience. >> i think it goes without saying that nobody was really prepared to make the kind of pivots and changes that all of us were forced to make in mid-march this year. educators were certainly no different. and students, for that matter, having to go from full speed in a winter or spring semester into something entirely different. instructiveas very for everyone involved in
education, whether at the k-12 level or at the higher-end level -- higher ed level to share those learnings in real-time. i have had countless conversations with school chiefs, higher-end leaders. really involved with trying to do the right thing on behalf of their students. to talk about how to do that effectively and efficiently and quickly. i think the name of the game, so to speak, is the fact that those who were really willing and able to embrace the need to change quickly really fared quite well. we saw particularly in higher we immediately did
extend as much fox stability in the academy to the state and local districts and higher institutions -- higher ed institutions. -- as much as flexibility in the academy to the state and local districts and higher ed institutions. had onlinem learning platforms already. they were able to quickly move into full-time distance online learning. it was much easier and more frictionless than it was for those at the k-12 level. at the k-12 level, we saw a lot of really hard work that went into trying to ensure that students could continue learning, but we saw a very uneven application of that.
and my hope is that there was a lot learned 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, that was there. in some cases, there was sort of a propensity to give up quickly, because it was so different, and it was so unexpected. that said, we are very much focused on doing everything we can do here to continue to encourage and urge states to do the next right thing for their students, to keep in mind who it is we are serving here, and who tois we are helping prepare. that is the current generation for future leadership in our nation.
>> as we think about this fall, you have been very clear that you expect schools to reopen their doors to students. you talked a little bit about thatxperience this spring, many ways,ven, in and unsatisfying experience for many parts of the country. unsatisfying experience for many parts of the country. other specific things that you will carry from the spring experience and do better this fall? >> think the real obvious particularly in k-12 education, there has to be a around the posture nimble and flexible and ready to adapt based on current
circumstances. we have talked about the importance of kids getting back into school. this is not a matter of their health vs. not health. it is a matter of health versus health. we know there are too many kids today who are suffering because of the isolation and the distance from their peers and their teachers, and having missed several months of learning, in some cases, in many cases. we know that there are many measures of a child's health. as we think about going into the fall, it is imperative that kids routine and into a forward leaning learning path to continue to develop themselves. we know especially for kids from vulnerable situations,
low-income backgrounds, those who do not have a lot of resources, we know that those are the ones that are the most negatively impacted by not having that school routine and that focus on continuing to move ahead and learn. also, we talked about some of my observations. i think it is absolutely the case that today, parents have a much clearer understanding of what their children's experience was this spring. they have a better perspective on how their particular school did with continuing to provide education opportunities. and they are looking now for that leadership on the part of education leaders to ensure their kids can go back to a
forward movement and learning new material, with the expectation that when we go back, that there is going to be full-time learning, full-time --ration, acknowledge acknowledging that if there is a flareup, their -- there may need to be a di pivotre may need to be a into an online learning environment. we need schools to be able to respond and react quickly to thatver the reality is in particular area. we look across the country, and in many communities and counties across the country, frankly, they could go back today based on a lack of having a lot of infections in their neighborhoods or in their
communities. i think it is really imperative for parents and education leaders to come together and talk about how we are going to move into new routines, acknowledging what we have learned and what we have to be prepared for, with a posture of, we need to keep moving ahead. our kids are counting on us to get this figured out. but consistent theme from you has been the need for americans to reengage in rethinking education. as we think about annotation, we think about things that don't just with the current circumstances, but can inform the way we change how we deliver the services going forward. are there any adaptations or innovations for this experience this year that you believe can
carry over well beyond the pandemic? >> one thing we have learned is somethingh everybody has learned, that technology can be and should be an enhancement to education. we can use technology in really important ways that may be had not been anticipated or thought of before. technology't look at as a threat, but as a tool, there's really no end to the can thinkion leaders about the way to enhance their skills and experience through the use of technology. i think also, there's been a new realization that there are other and to measure learning
education as a thing, instead of measuring the amount of time you may teach. masterye competency and measures, you are measuring what students are learning and achieving versus the amount of time spent somewhere. that deployed in the last few months in places where there was already an orientation around more distanced and online learning. i think the experience of the students in that case has been -- passed on and shared with others much more broadly. nger elementary aged students
learning at a distance and sitting in front of a computer for several hours a day, that experience is not necessarily the most ideal one at a distance. so all that to say, there are different ways to embrace and use technology both in the classroom, but also in the need to pivot to a distanced environment for whatever reason might be or whatever the preference of the family might be. i think obe of the big -- one of the big learnings and the lack of access -- i think one of the big learnings is the lack of access kids have to that. going forward, we have make sure that is a priority for states and communities, to ensure their students have that same kind of
opportunity. >> and you talk about the .amilies a couple of weeks ago, the u.s. supreme court handed out a very important ruling, the case of espinoza versus montana. tell us about what decision means -- what that decision means. >> for those who are not familiar with the case, the itinoza versus montana case, was brought forward by a number of parents in montana that had chosen to have their children in schools working for their tax creditrough a scholarship program. the montana supreme court really discontinued the program because some of these families were choosing to send their children to face-based schools. they said that was unconstitutional under the
montana constitution. the supreme court considered this and came down very much on the side of parents in this case. reality is that you cannot discriminate against a school or another entity based on the fact that it is religious in nature. the court was very clear. if you're going to have programs that give parents choices in education, then they have to be not to any participant, and discriminatory on the basis of religion. implications that relate directly to what is called the blaine amendment. that 37 states have had. particularafter that prohibition, or that particular impediment that many states have been citing in years past as a
deterrent to expanding or offering programs to empower parents to choose their child's educational setting. it has very broad applications. it is very important implications. -- they are very important implications. i am very encouraged that states are have programs, they only going to be able to strengthen them more, add to them. states that have been hesitant to go into that area, that they will no longer have that perceived impediment to cover them. >> right. as you speak about states and states, there are some georgia is one of them, that has a few programs that offer choices for students. some states do not have those. i want to talk about a federal proposal that is out there. the education freedom scholarship proposal.
tell us how that would give options the families. -- options to families. are many, that there many children today across our country that are in schools that are simply not working for them. but they are also in situations where they do not have any other choice. their family cannot move to a district where there is a better cannot putthey tuition necessary to get into the school that their parent might choose or wish for them. there has been a huge impediment many families. we have seen the detrimental impact of having kids stuck in places that are not working for too many of them
giving up on their futures, because it is either a mismatch where they are, or they are n environment a that is conducive to their growth and educational attainment and well-being. programs that have been started in states across the country, and there are increasing numbers of them, i am encouraged to see more and more states taking this on and offering these opportunities to know in, but we also lots of places, there is a much greater demand than there is supply. thinking about, how do we fundamentally ensure that all tos have an opportunity access an education that is going to help them grow and develop into everything they can be? at the federal level, we do not
want to create a federal program to be directly involved in any child's k-12 education, but we can help come alongside states and do so in a way that can enhance what states are already doing and provide them additional resources to expand what state programs are doing -- the -- where the demand exceeds the supply, and in states where there is not a program, there is an opportunity to do so with supplied toould be the form of a several tax credit. voluntarilybe contributed by individuals or businesses, the funds, into a pool that would then be distributed to states that would want to participate.
notnow most states would deny this opportunity to kids and would see it as a huge advantage to expanding the kinds of choices we need today. and i would like to encourage people to think broadly about the kind of choices that could be offered. most often, when we talk about school choice, we think about -- the sort of catchwords use, like vouchers, tax credits, education savings account. mechanisms to provide choices. let's say you are in a rural area, and you have a very small community, very small school, it 's not really practical to think with a school choice opportunity that you would see another 2-3 school buildings pop up in a
community that already has a very small population to begin with. rather, you might see the choice eing manifested in giving kids in that particular courses --cces to access to courses that they may not be able to take today because there school is too small to do it. -- their school is too small to do it. an instructor could do so right in their own school building, their own school community, maybe there is a handful of kids that learn very differently in and there is no reason that a small micro school could not 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 in a way that
works for them. or perhaps you are in a region that has some very significant opportunities post-12th grade, atst secondary education, th do not require a four-year degree, but may be very attractive to kids in high school already, and they can prepare them to graduate high school and enter may be a short-term six-month or one year program, then go into a career that is very exciting and full of opportunity for them. these scholarship funds could be used to help enhance that particular track and perspective, as well.
i would like to encourage folks to think broadly about what choices and opportunities can mean. and to do that in the context of, we are well into the 21st century. world has how our changed in the last quarter century and how much is different than 25 years ago, and yet, how similarly we approach k-12 education to 25, 50, even 100 years ago. it is 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 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. >> thank you for that. i know you had a last-minute scheduling change this morning.
we've got about five more minutes. we are going to get to a couple of our audience questions here quickly before you have to go. i will start with this one that we received. many conservatives and education reformers have long advocated for assessments as a means to better inform parents and teachers of students up the students' academic proficiency -- of the students' academic proficiency. that's month, the georgia department of education announced they would be taking away the assessment for the next year. many democratically led states are quickly following early. assuming you cannot comment on a pending waiver, can you give us your view on assessments and their place in education both from a federal perspective and how important they are to parents? i think measuring and assessing is very important in multiple dimensions, and in pretty much every area of life. while we have given a waiver for
assessments for this past been on year, i have record multiple times urging states to consider some sort of a snapshot assessment when they come back to school this fall to understand where each of the students are. how much learning did they lose, not lose? where are each of these kids? if they are going into fourth grade, we know that the transition from third to fourth grade is a critical one in terms of students' ability to read, their literacy level. iy orientation is, and understand the criticisms that have been launched over the years bible parents and educators around too many tests -- by parents and educators
around too many tests, but assessing and understanding is the only way we can adjust and fine-tune for the future steps. and knowing where students are is a critical importance for everyone. parents understand this intuitively. at the same time, they know having a test every other week is not the answer. there is a balance to be struck important it's an one. >> one more question. it's been disheartening to see that much of the guidance from georgia's department of ed was that cares act funding be used to prop up the old system to fi ll budget gaps rather than support students in the spring and over the summer. what is your view on how states utilize that money, and how could any future funding support will be crafted to more directly aid students? -- again, i am definitely
a federalist area i understand the importance of the state and local communities. -- >> i am definitely a federalist. i understand the importance of the state and local communities. i also think it is very clear that this spring clearly on arthed 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. or do things differently. and my urging has been for educators at the local level to be very creative about how they
to address what based on the downstream of the -- downstream implications of the virus in the closures. to use these funds creatively and in a way that is going to enhance the educational experience for the student going forward. congressional black caucus chair, karen bass, talks in a police reform efforts discussion this afternoon with the national press club. that is live on c-span at 2:00 eastern. later, president trump will discuss business deregulation. watch that live from the white house at 4:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. online as c-span.org, or listen with the free c-span radio app. announcer: sunday night, the american conservatives executive director and acting editor on
the special edition of the magazine. >> there's a lot going on in our country right now. it is unsettling times for a number of americans. everything having to do with the covid crisis, to the lockdown, to the killing of george floyd, subsequent protests and riots. in the presidential election. a lot of people are taking the opportunity to really re-examine first principles and trying to figure out where we stand as a nation. announcer: watch sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. the u.s. house and senate return on monday to resume legislative business following their state work period over the fourth of july holiday. the u.s. house considers the 2021 national defense authorization act with votes expected as 11:30 a.m. eastern. the senate convenes at 3:00 p.m., resuming debate on the nomination of russell vought.