GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was in Grand Rapids Tuesday, touring facilities at Grand Rapids Community College.
This was the first time DeVos granted access for local media to ask her any direct questions. She took questions after an hour and a half tour of GRCC's Culinary Kitchen, machine lab and apprenticeship facilities.
During the seven minutes she answered questions, DeVos mentioned several times that she believes "there are very few traditional students left," meaning four-year college students. She also deferred to the Every Student Succeeds Act multiple times, and advocated for states to have more control over education policy. The Act is flaring tensions between the Department of Education and states.
For instance, FOX 17 asked what students are supported by a federal education budget that initially proposed more than $10 billion in cuts to federal education initiatives, and whether she would intervene if states offered vouchers to schools who discriminated against LGBTQ students, the Secretary answered:
“Actually the budget that was put forward supports the students that are most vulnerable and most in need of support across the board. So that is our focus: is to really be supportive of those students that are in most in need of help and to again allow for the states to make determinations on how to best use those dollars," she said.
"The implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act is going to be a really critical piece of that, and I’m hopeful that Michigan is going to be very bold and very creative in the way that they’re addressing the needs of students here in Michigan.”
DeVos also answered why proposed cuts to Title II funding for teacher education would not be harmful:
"President Trump and I are very big proponents of continuing to support teachers and develop teachers," she said.
"The implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act at the federal level is really meant to provide states a new level of flexibility, which can and I would hope for many states would also include the opportunity for teachers to do professional development in a manner and an approach that’s really going to help each one of them become better at what they do."
A group of protesters followed DeVos throughout her tours Tuesday. Outside of the GRCC buildings she visited chants were heard including, "No vouchers!"