Governor Phil Bryant: DeVos good for Mississippi schools, good for US

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Betsy DeVos has what it takes to serve as secretary of Education: ideas, vision and leadership. For nearly three decades she has been a powerful voice for parents who simply want the ability to enroll their children in the learning environment that is right for them. Through word and deed, she has elevated the debate in America about the need to treat every child as a unique individual and deserving of a quality education, regardless of zip code or family income.   

In recent conversations with Mrs. DeVos, her passion for kids is evident. She exhibits an urgency to tackle the devastation that chronically underperforming schools have had on generations of children and a determination to create options for parents who desperately want their children to have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful and lead fulfilling lives.

{mosads}During her confirmation hearing she said, “For me, it’s simple: I trust parents, and I believe in our children.”  That sums up the Betsy DeVos I know. An entrepreneur, she will be a transformative leader for the Department of Education at a time when dynamic change is underway. She understands that states and local communities are in the driver’s seat but she will use the platform to play a supportive role, encouraging states to reach higher and do more to create a fertile environment for all students to achieve and thrive. She recognizes that students learn in different ways and at their own pace and that today’s educational system should be redesigned to accommodate this reality.

As governor, I understand the importance of developing innovative policies that put parents front and center in improving education outcomes. Such policies have paid dividends in Mississippi. We have been recognized for our innovation. For example, in 2016, Mississippi received the Frank Newman Award — the Heisman Trophy of Education — from the Education Commission of the States. The award recognized Mississippi for its bold and courageous policies to significantly impact student achievement in the state.

Most importantly, there have been tangible results in our classrooms. Last year, Mississippi’s fourth-graders led the nation in scoring gains on their reading and math tests. More than 90 percent of our third-graders passed their reading exams. Our high school graduation rate is higher than it has ever been.

The same education establishment that opposed the reforms that led to those improvements in Mississippi have now made it priority one to attempt to derail the confirmation process for Betsy DeVos. Mrs. DeVos has devoted her time and resources to improving educational outcomes for all children, and has been willing to break away from the status quo to do so. She deserves swift confirmation because innovative principles she would apply as secretary of Education have proven to work, in my home state and across the country.

Mississippi has become an ambassador of innovation in education. As chairman-elect of the Education Commission of the States, I am looking forward to working with Ms. DeVos to advance states’ educational agendas and to help parents make the best educational choices for their children.  

President Trump has made the right choice in Betsy DeVos. With the Every Student Succeeds Act returning decision-making power to states, Mrs. DeVos is poised to lead the way with her 30 years of experience in education advocacy and innovation. She is the right leader at the right time with decades of experience in school reform.

She believes, as she said in her confirmation hearing, “It’s time to shift the debate from what the system thinks is the best for kids, to what moms and dads want, expect and deserve.” I couldn’t agree more.

Phil Bryant is the Republican governor of Mississippi.

The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Betsy DeVos Education Mississippi Mississippi Republican Party School choice Trump Administration United States Washington D.C.

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