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tv   After Words Betsy De Vos Hostages No More - The Fight for Education...  CSPAN  August 15, 2022 1:00am-2:01am EDT

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betsy it's such a joy to be with you. congratulations on the book hostages no more the fight for education freedom and the future of the american child. let's start with the title of the book. how did you come up with the name hostages no more. well first job great to be with
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you as well. thanks. thanks for doing this and the title is a provocative one and it's meant to be has to just know more is a direct reference to a quote made by horace mann commonly considered the father of our education system about 175 years ago. he said that educators are entitled to look upon parents as having given hostages to our cause and i think the last two years have really given families across the country a front-row seat into how many ways their children really have been held hostage to a system that for too many of them is simply not working. and so this is a book about what we do to fix american education and and that is that's the reason for the title and the subtitle about american education freedom, which i'm sure we're going to talk about. absolutely. we definitely going to talk about it, but before that, you
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talk about your childhood in holland, michigan. tell us about growing up in holland. about your family. were you inspired by a mentor or teachers that got you on your on your life's journey? sure, so i was born and raised in holland, michigan both my parents are, you know children of immigrant families from the netherlands and started out with virtually nothing my parents mortgaged everything when i was just a young child who for my dad to start a business. he was an engineer and he had a better way of doing things and so they mortgaged everything and raise some money from family and friends and started a business when i was eight years. seven years old. i remember helping my dad paint the first building and then working throughout the years on the factory line. he one of the products that he
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developed and created was the lighted sun visor for cars and i was involved as a school or on that first production line a packing inspecting and shipping those sun visors and then later working third shift in the factory. it was a great experience. they were very hard-working and and very entrepreneurial and always gave my siblings and me the the messages that we could do and be anything that we wanted to become and and they really really provided amazing role models for me as did a number of teachers. i had growing up. my mom. first of all was a teacher a first grade teacher and then i recall my second grade teacher mrs. walcott who regularly held up my cursive penmanship papers because i was i am a left-handed individual and and it was tough for me to learn cursive, but she
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always she always encouraged me. so i remember that about her. and i also remember my high school government teacher mr. pothoven who really helped instill in me a love for politics and policy and and really american government. you know, you're in the book you mentioned that your dad passed away suddenly and the business was sold in your mom. tell the story that your mom decided to make sure that all the employees were taken care of. i thought that was uniquely american exceptional kind of act and it's probably worth knowing. well, my mom and dad really were examples throughout their my mom still living. she's just about 90 and and both of them were really committed to giving back and they instilled in all of my siblings and me a love of and for philanthropy of giving and they gave in many
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different ways, but what you've referenced after the sale of the company my mom took a significant portion of the proceeds and had it given out to all of the all of the employees of the company in the form of a unexpected and unanticipated bonus. it's really been interesting to see the results of all of the opportunities that you know, many of the individuals who were in leadership positions there. they actually went out and started businesses of their own in west michigan, and it's really been exciting to see how some of the seeds that they received in the form of bonuses have really seeded additional opportunities and all kinds of new businesses and growth opportunities for others in west, michigan. that's fantastic. so let's you dedicate the book to your your husband -- who's a phenomenal guy. can we dig a little deeper? and can you give us a rundown on
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the rest of your family and grandchildren, which at least in my particular life is kind of the most important part of family these days exactly. well, we have four children all grown and with families of their own. we now have 10 grandchildren and three step grandchildren. so it's life is very full. the newest ones are two months and six months and it's it's just a blessing to have the voices of youth and the energy of youth around very regularly. i'm looking forward to seeing almost all of them this weekend oh fantastic. yeah, so you and i share a common passion for education reform education freedom school choice parental choice. we've we've had this shared passion for gosh at least 30 years. what what drove you to make this your life's calling as an adult you've clearly one of the leaders in the country and you've stuck with this through thick and thin over many many
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years well, it really originated when our oldest son rick who's now 40 was starting kindergarten and -- and i knew we were going to be able to have our children go to school wherever we thought was best for them. so i really researched around the area to find the best setting for him and in the process of doing that i discovered this amazing little christian school in the heart of grand. kids really serving the community around it and began to get involved there as a volunteer and the more i volunteered the more i realized that for every child and family that was represented at the school. there were probably 10 or 20 others in the community. that would have loved to have that opportunity for their kids, but couldn't because they couldn't afford the tuition the families in the school couldn't afford the tuition and the school has to regularly still raise 90% of the operating funds outside of outside of the you know, those who attend the
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school from benefactors in the community and the more i got involved the more i realized that the way we the way we fund or the way we provide for education in in michigan at the time was not fair. it was not right that i could make those decisions and choices to have my child in a faith-based school. but those in the that community if they couldn't get into that little potter's house school have that option, so began working in a 501c3 nonprofit type efforts to make changes and and job you'll recall early on as well. we thought that through either emotional arguments stories of people whose lives were impacted or logical arguments legal arguments. we could make the case and and compel policy change, but it became clear very quickly that the policies were very often
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controlled by politics. and so that led me into more efforts around the political piece of it that has has then i then started working, you know, nationwide in targeted states that we really tried to make the policy help help the policy changes come about through getting involved in the politics. so that's really an important point, which is that your motivation was. and by your family and the lack of and the just the moral implications of some children being able to have parents that could choose a school and others not but you melded civic and political. involvement into this policy. advocacy. tell us a little bit about that because it i don't know. i don't know if people know how active you have been historically. in both the policy realm as well as the political room you talk about a lot in the book. sure. well, some people would think
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that my very first foray into anything regarding education was when i went to washington to be secretary, but that actually started as i said it started, you know, 35 years ago when rick was going to enter kindergarten and -- and i established a very soon after that a scholarship organization that helps help students help families in first and west michigan and then we spread it to all of michigan to help families access the education they wanted for their children and and then we in 2000 tried to change we were involved with an effort leading an effort to change michigan's constitution, which has a very very high blaine amendment which by the way the supreme court case yesterday has a significant impact on but we we i had to change michigan's constitution to allow for kids in failing schools and family school
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districts to access other choices that did not that was not successful in 2000. we may have been a little premature but the energy of those who supported it was was very, you know distinct and i said we we can't let this energy go away. we have to help harness it and do something good with it and help, you know, do make some changes that we need and so, michigan had a a cap on the number of charter schools that you could have established in michigan. that was the only way to get that legislation passed a few years earlier and when that cap was quickly met there was little political will to change that cap at the time so we started focusing on legislators who either were supportive of or not supportive of lift. that cap and began political efforts to ensure that enough
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legislators were elected to office that would actually support expanding the opportunities for charter schools. so that was really sort of the first effort of bringing the the political piece into the policy piece and because of the success we had we then moved on and and i was at the time serving on a couple of different national boards around advocating for school choice, but we didn't have that political piece in in the in the mix or in the effort and so that began a move toward that and and since organizations have started doing that political. advocacy work. we've had a lot more success in helping families have that power to find their right fit for their kids' education. you know a lot of people probably that are watching our conversation here. probably think look good ideas policy. that makes sense. you know, it just it just
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happens, but what you've learned firsthand over many years. similar to my experiences that government-run politicized unionized bureaucracies. just don't go quietly in the night no matter how logical your arguments are you have to win politically. and i think that's an important lesson. to to people that are, you know want to make sure that their child gets at the highest quality education. they have to be engaged civically and politically correct, right? absolutely and i think it's particularly important today as more families have have had a front-row seat to their children's education the last couple of years and for a whole host of reasons many of them are very disappointed with what they have experienced and rightfully so and so we see, you know parents at school board meetings asking questions and and we see, you know school board membership changing as a result and i would
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urge and expand that you know that that requests to get involved to making sure you're paying attention to who you're voting for for state legislators and for members of congress because these are individuals who will ultimately decide policy around education now and in the future and where we want more opportunities, we need to be supporting those individuals who are going to actually support that themselves. yeah, so let's talk about your the not your nomination to be secretary of education in the confirmation process as a friend watching not not near the area code 202, but down here in miami was painful to watch it because of the vitriol and the ugliness what was what was your expense? and i know you're tough. i know you're really tough, but it was it was hard to watch to be honest with you and can you can you share some experiences
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in that during that time? and were there any lessons learned? well, i obviously went into the whole process not knowing exactly what to expect because i had never studied the process before having never anticipated the opportunity to serve in a role like that so i didn't have anything to really compare it to but upon reflection and and in you know in having lived through the the whole experience i think in hindsight i would have been a lot more assertive about speaking up during the time in which i was waiting for the confirmation hearing and i had very little support in pushing back against the vitriol and and i also had a lot of folks a lot of great folks around me that we're trying to help me prepare but many of them that really
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didn't know and understand the department of education or you know what i might anticipate in terms of subject areas to be addressed in the in the process. so, you know in hindsight. i have a lot of great ideas about how to do it differently, but i i did my best getting through and thankfully we had vice president pence who could cast that tie breaking vote which you know was a historic moment. i don't think there has not been another cabinet member having to be confirmed by a thai breaking vote of the vice president prior to that. there haven't been many cabinet secretaries that were so unfairly. treated as well and you handled it with a lot of grace and then the first day that you show up to work was an amazing in the book. it's an amazing story, please share that with us. well, i think we're referring to the second day when i went to visit a school in washington dc. no, well, we can talk about that
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too. i'm talking about the the department of education has three buildings are reading. yes, and you shook hands with every person in the building. i watched through every floor of every building and shook hands with everyone who's there now to be fair. these are very large buildings with lots and lots of work stations and many of them were populated and there were a pretty hefty number that weren't but i shook hands with every every single staff member that was there every single employee and introduce myself and then went to the auditorium and and did some brief remarks to the whole group and that was that was great. it was fun. although i did as i mentioned in the book. i did wear heels in that particular case and it was not a good idea. so so the the second day on the job you go to the school. is that right the second day on the job i went to the to a middle school in in the district
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and we were we were very intent on not making it a big deal. we did not inform anyone of the visit. i just wanted to go quietly and meet the students and the teachers and some of the parents unfortunately someone on the other end on the school end apparently released the fact that i was going to be there more broadly and there were many protesters lots of media and it really the encounter was was very unpleasant in that. i was literally barred from entering the school and you know, it was was pushed on the stairs and you know, really sort of physically a front confronted and and so we had to leave the school. i had to leave with the the security person from the department of education drive away, and i you know, he said ma'am, i don't think we should
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go back and i said no we we have to go back and we need to find a way and so we did we got into the school and i had a great visit. it was a wonderful visit with the teachers and meeting a lot of the students and many of the parents who had come it was a great visit, but the result of that was because of the you know, the way i had been confronted and really physically barred from doing my job. i ended up having two days later. this was on a friday and on monday when i returned to work i was now protected by a full 24/7 marshall us marshal detail. they had done a threat assessment and found many many viable and alarming threats against me and so as regrettable as that was i'm very thankful that i had the action of those
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wonderful men and women and they really ensured that i could visit and go see places and do things that i needed to do as secretary. yeah, this is a these are examples of just the really ugly political culture and culture in general that we we now have where people that you may have a disagreement with or the enemy and there's very little effort to try to understand the other side because why would you want to understand the enemy? you know, it's just in its it's personal and it's ugly and it's include increasingly violent. it's so sad to watch. so the another part of washington life is the entrance nature of the bureaucracy and you tell two stories in the book that i thought were. great examples of this institutionalized entrenchment that exists much more i think in dc than other like local and state government. i don't think has the same degree of of just craziness
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about protecting people that that aren't serving they're there to you know, make a paycheck and not necessarily. do their job so one one story was the story that you talked about about books in the basement and a claude large closet that you wanted to donate and the other story if you could share with us is the the receptionists that weren't tell a receptionist. i'm not sure that's that's only a term in the department of education apparently but to share those two stories because i think it does give you a sense of how frustrating it must have been as someone coming with a passionate desire to empower parents was confronted by not just a hyper-politicized environment, but also this bureaucracy sure. yes, the the books story is was a very frustrating one because we we learned early on that there were literally thousands of books being stored down in a
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some store room in the basement of the main building of the department. and so we said about to try to get them out of that store room so we could actually bring them to schools when i was visiting and anybody else on the team that was was visiting schools. well, we found out that there was only one key to that store room and there was only one individual who had control of that key and he only was in the building very occasionally so we had to figure out actually when he was going to be there got that figured out and then when he went to open the door, he said but you can't take these books out yourself. you have to get someone from the union staff to come and move them for you. and and so i'm not going to allow you to take the books out today. so that said about a whole nother process of coordinating the one man with the key with the union staff that also had their own unique schedule to go
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and unlock and unload books out of that particular store room. just an example of inefficiency bureaucratic processes that make no sense at all. and before i tell the receptionist story, there's one other one that it to me. it's just appalling that we can and do allow this to happen because i'm sure it's not unique to the department of education. there was one individual, but i became aware of whose job required her to be on a computer all day long. and it was discovered that she had not logged onto the computer for over two years. and so and and yet it was impossible fire that person. so again, just another example and then the receptionist story inside the the end of the building where my office and those on my team, you know several probably there's probably 20 some people that
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worked on that end of the building and there it was a reception area that two individuals sat at to receive people coming in to meet with anybody on that end of the building. and again very early on one morning my deputy chief of staff went to ask these individuals a question and neither of them were there. and she was very puzzled by that rightfully so and learned that both of the individuals. it was their day to telework now their job was to actually receive people and so we were all very puzzled as to how and why they could telework in a position like that. and so we you know quickly righted that situation with individuals who are actually going to be there. but again just another example of all of the you know, the
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impediments and also the bureaucracy that we had to deal with on a regular daily basis. man, i would have my blood pressure would have been way too high having to experience that so you you say in the book that washington is a lonely place for federalists and as a as a governor, i really appreciate that. but tell me what that what that meant and how you used your your position to try to shift power back to the states. well everything we did everything i said everything. we do needs to follow the law first and foremost, but devolve as much power away from washington and away from that department as is possible and and that you know, that was that was difficult for even some of our republican friends on the hill to understand because you know, and and i understand the propensity to when you are in inability in a place where you
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have a majority or able to influence policy you want to influence it in the direction you you want to take it but my contention with particularly with education is that this is really primarily the role of the states and in fact the department of education in my view probably should not exist and should never have been created. so everything we did was to really devolve as much power to the states and give them as much lat. food around decision making as as was allowable by law. it started with the implementation of the every student succeeds act which of course had been that there were all kinds of regulations ready to go. they they were i think the law passed assuming that that hillary clinton was going to be elected president and they were going to be able to put add on all of these rules and regulations congress quickly
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pulled those back thankfully, but that allowed us to really look at state plans for the every student succeeds act and then turn them around back to the states as quickly as possible as long as they were following the requirements of the law. but like i said, there were a lot of a lot of our you know, republican colleagues who? liked to see their own special, you know provisions added in and/or applied when it worked for their philosophy. the probably the transcendental more transformative event of jesus in the last 20 years has been the pandemic. you were secretary when? the pandemic hits people are scared people don't there was very little information to start with. tell me what your role was. i know you created a commission a task force and and kind of go through that process of what?
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what washington was like dealing with all these unknowns and then? if you could explain to me, which states you think have done better than others and why? so yes, obviously in march of 2020 there were a lot more questions than there were answers and what we knew initially was that we could take steps to pause the payments on student loans, which we did immediately and and then make ourselves available in any way possible to state leaders knowing that states. we're going to have to navigate this you unique to state and and as as it became clearer as the spring moved on that, you know kids were not catching this disease and we're not spreading it like adults did that the
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opportunities for getting back into classroom settings? we're very real and should have happened for most kids if not all and so we we tried and did everything we could to support states making that decision and that call and and you know when the initial covid relief package was passed we got that money out to states and available within the i think even shorter than the required time period by congress, which was a no small feat and and so every every state and district had the opportunity to access these funds for whatever they needed to make their schools safe and healthy for their kids to be in but it was just amazing to me. how how many did not go about set about the with the goal of getting kids back in class and in person and and as that wound
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on through the summer and there were so many states and large urban areas with no plan for getting kids back into the classroom. it was it was very concerning and so we did everything we could to urge and encourage them to do just that and heads, you know, pledged our support in any way we could give it to ensure that they had the resources they needed but it was you know, it was a very frustrating time in that so many kids were kept out of the classroom for months longer than they ever should have been and today we don't even begin to know the scale of impact and harm that has befallen on millions of kids across the country. so on the public health side, we do pretty much know don't we that um this the effort to shut down schools had the public
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health impacts were actually, i think kids probably got sicker at home than they would have in the classroom in a you know with schools open, but that's now clear right? i mean absolutely absolutely forward. hopefully we learn from that lesson that that apart from the obvious need to have school, you know have kids in school so that moms and dads can work. it it was there was no health impact for states like florida and others that that stayed open for a longer period of time right? well and frankly, you know, many parents saw charter schools and private faith-based schools opening right back up and serving kids. and so again, i think this has the pandemic and how the system handled it has really opened a lot more families' eyes to the lack of control and the lack of influence. they've had yeah, so you bring up an interesting point normally
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historically when there's been a massive disruption and this certainly was one of those there's been coming from that there is a surge of innovation that you know propels us forward right and tell tell us about some of those innovations that took place you mentioned homeschooling which grew double digit across all racial. series black families hispanic families white families all had double digit increases some more than that and then private schools did not see a decline even though parents, you know, their pocketbooks were stretched charter schools were up traditional public school had a decline so out of that. what are the innovations that you see that that could be more sustainable that could last for a longer period of time post pandemic. well, i think a lot of these experiments out of necessity some of the little homeschool consortiums where a few families got together and they hired a
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teacher who was upset with how you know his or her district was handling the situation and so they had a teacher for you know, a handful or 10 or 12 kids seeing those kinds of solutions and for many families that they're working very well the policy to support that really is around these education savings accounts, which would families the greatest flexibility to address the needs of their children based on what they've discovered has worked for them and those kinds of innovations really need to have room to continue to grow and and more of them to be established if if they're successful for some families, they will certainly be successful for others and i think it's actually a great opportunity for teachers as well because again, i think many teachers were very frustrated with how you know how their system and how thus system navigated and handled this and
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so i think for teachers to have the same sorts of freedom and innovative creative opportunities themselves is a real real opportunity in a real bright silver lining from the pandemic as well. what do you think of this the explosion of what they're calling pods? yeah. micro schools call them what you want. it's what it amounts to essentially as a handful of people getting together saying we're going to learn together. you know, it's also it's often multi-aged children, you know multi-level learning and sort of the one-room schoolhouse model again and and again because we have so many more tools and so many more resources in terms of curriculum and ways to receive and and and you know move through curriculum many mastery
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based programs, which are perfectly suited for kids who don't want to sit and be measured by how much time they sit in their seat, but how they progress through concepts really the the pandora's box has been opened and and now policy has to support families finding those solutions that are working for their children. the exciting part of this is that this is parent driven. this is yes, this is parents now, i guess they were the teachers for months of their kids. they saw the lack of response to their needs in some districts and got frustrated. and from this. it's been a spark i guess to to really have significant parent engagement, which is the way education freedom will will you know move forward right? exactly exactly. i think parents have have sensed a a pout they've been awakened to the need for them for them
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for to be involved in their kids education in a way that many of them had had not realized before and in doing so they've also realized that they really they really do have an important role to play and an importantly they can figure this out. they do have the ability to help make sure their kids are in a place in a way that is is really engaging them and in a place where they're learning. absolutely, so we briefly mentioned the learning losses. i haven't seen any studies research-based kind of data that would suggest there have been learning losses, but anecdotally it appears to me that the losses are devastating particularly for younger kids particularly for the kids that were struggling prior to the pandemic. what are what are the aid are there? is there data now that's been collected that verifies what i think is likely to be a really
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serious challenge and be what are the what are the recommendations that you? believe need to be made. what do you recommend that that policymakers and schools across the country do to deal with this huge gap that probably is built up. well the studies that i've seen or the references i've seen have have been mostly anecdotal as well. but i know that mckinsey had even before we've come completely out of the pandemic had estimated five months to well over a year learning loss again, depending on how long a child was out of the classroom and and this is going to be a longitudinal issue right there. we're going to have to keep keep measuring. i did see though that sweden just released a study the earlier this week. they had not other than the two weeks initially two or maybe two maybe two to four weeks initially had not closed down schools. they went immediately back to
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school and they have determined no learning loss for students in sweden. so it's it is a it's going to be really concerning even more concerning for students in the us that were out for a year or in many cases and as talked about the ones that were out of class the longest or out of in class in-person learning the longest are the ones who can least afford it the most vulnerable kids and and you know in some cases their families were able to find other options through some of these other creative solutions, but the the point being that only with policies that support education freedom are we really going to see the opportunity for many of these kids to catch up and and then surpass where they were before because going back to and doing the same thing, you know is not going to bring about better results for these kids. so you mentioned the book that?
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that that education freedom parental choice in the pandemic environment in the post-pandemic environment has exploded across the country and you're correctly. i think i agree with you that these are the state policy drives this and local implementation is the key. give us a little rundown on the states that you're most excited about in terms of transforming the system where parents are really given the power as informed consumers where they get the information and make choices best for their kids. well, i always i always reference florida which of course you jeb led the way on creating options and opportunities and education freedom and and thankfully your successors and success of state legislatures have continued to build on the significant steps. you took now more than 20 years ago to provide these opportunities and i see florida
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continuing to push forward on that and to making those options know i i think i hope that florida is the first state to offer universal education freedom time will tell but i'm also very encouraged by what governor ducey and legislators in arizona have continued to push on and and same for, indiana, you know, wisconsin, ohio have have some signs of real real progress and growth as well and then importantly we've seen this this issue really inform many of the the primary races this year in states where there haven't been programs and where there's been there's been legislation introduced in the past, but there's simply hasn't been broad enough support, but this issue has really popped to the top of the list for many states and importantly so i
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think in this next year or two, we're going to see some more major gains. i i agree with you. and i think if you look at this. as both of us are kind of veterans in this fight, you know some states started earlier on the journey, but now many states are expanding charter schools looking at esa's aggressively pursuing parental options and states that 10 years ago would have never considered or are starting to do it. so exactly and i think and i think parents are the ones that made that happen that's kind of that core element of the book that you're you trust parents over bureaucracies and i wish more people did. yeah, and i i have great optimism also for my home state of michigan, which is in the middle of of getting an education savings account a significant one established after the governor vetoed the legislation.
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we have a citizen-led petition initiative to represent that same legislation back to our state legislature and if if they successfully pass it again. it will become law without her signature and this will provide opportunities for tens of thousands of kids in michigan. awesome. so let's let's switch to a place where the department of education has more of a say. which is higher education, but it has more of a say for a financial reason not necessarily well, it's bad policy, which is our student loan program. tell us about where we are with the student loan program president. biden is talking about granting immunity if you will for thousands and thousands of borrowers. what's the status of the student loan program? and what would you do if you if you had a magic wand, what would you do differently?
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well, this is something that i started sounding the alarm on early on in my tenure the student loan program or the student debt at that point was just shy of 1.5 trillion dollars. it's now grown to over 1.7 trillion dollars and it is it is just inconceivable to me that we have not addressed the the fact that federalizing student aid in 2010 supposedly to pay for obamacare, which it did not do clearly was was the start of more runaway costs on the part of in and you know tuition increases on the part of higher ed institutions and more students taking out student debt that for higher higher degrees, but where we are now is, you know, president biden's under tremendous pressure from the far left. give all kinds of student debt.
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not only is that ill advised its illegal and and also even if there if it was legal to do it has no merit two out of three americans have not taken out student debt or attended higher education. and so the notion that we would ask two out of three of them to pay for the student debt of those who knowingly made that decision is simply unfair and untenable. secondly. what about all the students that faithfully have paid down their student loans or whose families saved for their higher education. or for the veterans who earned their higher education funds through the gi bill none of nothing about this is right or fair and even if you did wave a wand and forgive a bunch of student debt, where would that leave you it doesn't fix anything. it doesn't change anything. and so congress and the president really need to go back
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to the drawing board and i would argue wind down the federal student loan program and allow it to go back to the private sector as it was before and and in in the process of doing that expect more from institutions on you know, showing how their value really matters to the students. they're supposed to be serving. so there's it seems to me that a bottom-up approach if you've phased down or phase out the student loan program the bottom up approach could create all sorts of interesting options. i mean you look at our friend mitch daniels who? has completed his tenure at purdue a great university. he is not raised tuition for how many years now eight over 10 years 10 years. sure. i mean at the his whole time in office better outcomes low costs states like tennessee are providing incentives for for kids on merit-based basis to to
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earn credits in a very low cost way florida has very low tuition. it seems like you're punishing the people that are doing the innovative work by by allowing the federal governments involvement in the student loan program to take away the incentives for innovation. yeah. absolutely. that's absolutely right and there is every opportunity to really support a lot of these innovations in in meaningful ways that are not going to penalize the innovation and and are not going to keep rewarding those that keep doing the same thing the same way and providing less results for students. so the term wokeness a term that i didn't know until about four or five years ago is a very interesting topic on our in our universities today the council culture the illiberalism of the institutions themselves you were secretary when this kind of took hold and became much more
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relevant all across the all across the country. how do we deal with wokeness? how do we how do we make sure that our universities are places where there's inquiry where your views are challenged where you learn rather than being doctrinated. well arguably much of this starts in the k-12 years where students today for, you know by and large are not learning how to really debate ideas and to analyze concepts and and are going into higher ed institutions very malleable and and then getting pushed by a far left leaning faculty and bent on so many college campuses. we were very clear to go and push back on those instances. where the first amendment the opportunity to speak freely about lots of different things was being abridged and we made sure that we would highlight
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those those incidents wherever we could this is got to be something that collectively we we say enough we have got to we have got to change direction and ensure that first of all students arrive at college prepared for the experience of college, and i would you know again argue far too many of them are not prepared to do first of all the work of higher education and secondly, contend with a lot of different ideas education is for honing your your core philosophies and exchanging ideas and debating, you know debating. the merit of different issues, and and i think that the woke 10 trends have have certainly now gotten the attention being paid to them is is good because i
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think common sense people are going to start to push back and say we don't, you know, we're not going to sign up for this and be part of this any longer and i that has to extend to corporate america as well. absolutely, so you're actively reengaged in from philanthropic endeavors. what's the role of philanthropists in this in this case? i mean a lot of these universities. receive hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy donors that love their universities, but is there is a role for them to play to be able to kind of accelerate the the the purging of wokeness. well, i think a lot of philanthropists who for whom this issue is very important and who are paying attention are actually either, you know, pausing or or withdrawing their support for these institutions that are not standing up and saying, you know, we actually support and protect the free and
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open exchange of ideas on our campus and and i think that this is not you know, a light switch moment. it's more of a reest or a dimmer moment where i think we're going to see more pressure put on institutions if they do not readjust and and take a different tact in this in this whole battle and issue. so there's a growing awareness in our country that a four year degree still has value, but it's not the only path for people to live purposeful lives and to rise up. talk to me about the career pathway movement. is there a role for washington apprenticeships? how do we accelerate a logical trend to to give different paths for the you know, the great diversity of the of young people in our country? well, this is something that our administration really put focus
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on in an effort to help provide new vehicles and and support for the industry recognized apprenticeship program, which had has great promise for alternate career pathways. beyond high school was just in the in the early stages of being implemented in in, you know partnership with private enterprise and you know many companies who on their own are actually addressing these issues and providing their own solutions, but the iraq actually was going to help provide more robust and integrated opportunities and predictably the biden administration canceled the program almost immediately that should be reinstated and an expanded and and in with that there needs to be more i think more research
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not research. there's plenty of research done, but there has to be more report on what the you know, the the four year institutions that students are graduating from today with presumably not insignificant student debt. we added information to the college scorecard that will help provide data will help provide meaningful data for students to look at. down to the field of study in at each institution to see importantly what you will make what you will earn after you graduate from that particular program previously. it was reported as an average by institution which of course masks very significantly the highest and lowest and of the spectrum and so for many of these graduate or undergraduate degrees, there are there is not a payoff there is you you look
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at and and you look at the cost versus what you're like later earn in years one, two, three and four and i hope that will help students become more discerning about the directions they take and to evaluate, you know, do i go to a four-year institution and take this this area of study and look forward to earning this or is another career pathway really something i should look at more closely. so with a few minutes we left i thought it'd be appropriate to talk about january 6th. you were in dc. can you talk about your experiences on that day and lessons learned on a really tragic day, i think in american history. well, i was i was in my office that morning and and then was urged to go to my home because there was rumors there were rumors of of unrest and the more i the more i saw and the more i
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thought about what children were seeing and viewing that day the more upset. i became you know, the president could have been should have done more to stop what was happening to call people back and when that didn't happen, it really was a bridge too far for me. and as you know, i i submitted my letter of resignation the next day. i had come to washington to serve students and to serve the american people and it was an honor to have that opportunity from president trump, but i i had i had been frustrated after the end of or after the election. that we had a window of time where we could have conceivably gotten the education freedom scholarship tax credit into the second covid relief bill and but
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there was so much, you know. chaos and not focus within the white house itself around what some of the possibilities were and and that was you know, that was frustrating. i i got to a point, you know, we knew we had done everything we could for and on behalf of students. so, you know, january 6th was was kind of that the lack of action there really kind of sealed things for me. well, i know you love the constitution and i think it's your prayer and hope that high school students particularly, but across the country that we reconnect with our heritage with the you know that we're understand our history and respect the institutions that have created the greatest country in the face of the earth. i that's one thing that i'm very optimistic about a lot of things but i worry about the disunity
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that exists because we don't appreciate our common heritage. well, that's another very good argument for why we need to ensure that all students have an understanding of the founding of our country the founding documents the you know, the the history that we have continued to build upon and the constitution. anchors that all so betsy, thank you so much. this is a great book. i really enjoyed reading it. i hope people will will pick it up and read it before i let you go. can you tell me what book you're reading right now? right now i am reading a book called under money. under money, i think i read it. yes. it's a it's a it's fiction, but kind of not it's kind of yeah, it's fiction. but kind of not we'll leave it at that. well, thank you so much you you
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served with distinction and honor and i admire you so much for all that you've done. well, thank you so much jeff. it's great to great to talk with you and i look forward>> officew
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book. lessons we learned through improving health care around the world.


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