If you believe in alternative education choices rather than traditional public and private schools for families, you probably like the pro-choice, Betsy DeVos for education secretary, according to NPR's Anya Kemenetz. Choices like school vouchers and charter schools have gained popularity versus the one size fits all public schools available in most states. DeVos, however, has been mired in the image of offering alternative choices. She has not been able to hone in on which education choices she believes states should favor. This would be needed in order to create a real national movement. In addition, NPR says, she has been involved in rolling back social progress in the already nationally popular movements such as fair treatment for diverse students of all kinds.

Devos, keep it simple with education

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would do well to help states focus on the following positive initiatives, espoused in "The Basic School" by Earnest Boyer: smaller class size, more teachers in those classes, smaller schools, and creating more trusting environments where students can learn in a less competitive environment at their own developmental level. While the federal government wants our country to compete in international rankings, this is not the same as competing in the classroom.

The federal government does not want to manage public education on a national scale. However, it does choose to influence the state’s education programs with initiatives such as the failed, “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core”.

These were standardized testing and curriculum initiatives, respectively. What our public schools need and can achieve nationwide are schools with less than 500 kids, where every teacher and every administrator knows every student in the building. Schools will succeed better when the class size averages no more than 20 students.

In addition, each lead teacher should have a full-time assistant for student guidance. With these ratios, teachers can effectively differentiate instruction to different developmental readiness levels.

Education can be consistent across all regions

DeVos should push her ideas, including more choice, while convincing states that smaller schools are the answer to a collective experience for kids.

Whether it is in Los Angeles or Birmingham, these initiatives would go a long way to producing more competitive national results. This is what Washington seeks. A more consistent school experience in all cities, towns, and states, is what will raise national test scores and make the U.S. more competitive in the international community. Smaller schools with the smaller student to teacher ratios could be supported in traditional public school systems as well as charter schools. Private schools could continue to do what they do, as much of their success is driven by the same fundamentals mentioned here. Already too large public schools, particularly in metropolitan areas, could be physically quartered, with an individual administrative team and higher teacher ratios applied such as outlined.

Yes, this will be very expensive. However, my contention is that human capital is where the brunt of education expenses need to be incurred, not on trying to keep up with ever-changing technology. Technology is changing so fast, that kids are learning it faster outside of school than they can inside the school.

The federal government does not need to push social initiatives but needs to follow them

Mrs. DeVos would do well to curtail her initiatives of rolling back Obama era social progress, under the guise of defeating the Democrats. The world is changing. For the most part, the social gains we make in the name of diversity and equality for all, apply to schools too. While some community groups feel that those changes are moving too fast too soon, once put in place it feels like negative time and energy, to roll them back for what will amount to just a few years.

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