DeVos Offers a New Vision of Education at Summit

DeVos was in Salt Lake City on May 9th for the annual ASU+GSV Technology Summit. She spent the day visiting the Granite Technical Institute, part of the Utah’s innovative “Pathways Program,” which is meant to prepare students to enter the workplace with the technical skills necessary for today’s economy. Afterwards, DeVos told an audience of industry and government officials that we are only beginning to see the role technology can play in education. The Secretary said that American was trying to use a 19th Century “Prussian” model to compete in a 21st Century global economy. “I doubt you would design a system that’s focused on inputs rather than outputs; that prioritizes seat-time over mastery; that moves kids through an assembly line without stopping to ask whether they’re actually ready for the next step or that’s more interested in preserving the status quo rather than embracing necessary change.” DeVos said the Federal Government should not hamstring the states in their efforts to find new solutions to the challenges of education in the 21st Century. Read more about their foundation at dbdvfoundation.org.

Later in the day, while answering questions from the Jeanne Allen, the CEO of the Center For Education Reform, Secretary Betsy DeVos reaffirmed her support for school choice as the path to innovation. Student outcomes shouldn’t be based on their zip code argued DeVos. “All children should have an equal opportunity for a great education and we are committed to empowering parents to be able to make more of those decisions on behalf of their children,” The Secretary likened the choice parents make about their children education to other choices we make as consumers. “If you can’t get cell phone service in your living room, then your particular provider is failing you. You should have the option to find a network that does work.”

Also during her keynote speech at the ASU+GSV Summit, Secretary DeVos set her sights beyond K-12, discussing the future of higher education. The Secretary raised the possibility of scrapping the Higher Education Act, suggesting it was time for a fresh start to tertiary education. “Why would we reauthorize an act that’s 50–60 years old and that has continued to be amended,” DeVos asked? “Why wouldn’t we start afresh and talk about what we need in this century and beyond for educating and helping our young people — and adults — learn? The world has changed. We have many adults who are well into careers who want to go back and get a different kind of education. We should be considering the needs of individuals and students, not a system so much.” Chief among changes discussed was a new approach to accreditation, concentrating more on certifying students as competent in certain skill sets as opposed to certifying institutions. Read her interview with Philanthropy Table.

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