School choice advocate and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made two stops in Tallahassee this week, visiting a public and private school on Tuesday.
DeVos spent the morning at Holy Comforter Episcopal School, a private Christian school, and then made a stop at Florida State University School Tuesday afternoon. An “A” rated public school, FSU High School is affiliated with the Tallahassee-based university’s School of Education.
Holy Comforter is home to around 550 students in pre-K through 8th grade, while the FSU School has more than 1,700 students from kindergarten to the 12th grade.
“It is an honor to have a national dignitary come onto our campus and see what is unique about our academic community,” Virginia Culpepper, Holy Comforter’s director of communication told the Tallahassee Democrat.
DeVos was scheduled to make a third, previously unplanned stop at a Tallahassee voucher school, Bethel Christian Academy, on Wednesday.
A strong proponent of school choice, DeVos has spent quite a bit of time in Florida since she was confirmed as the country’s Education Secretary earlier this year.
DeVos visited Florida twice in March, tagging along with President Donald Trump at an Orlando Catholic Elementary School to spread the word about school choice programs.
For years, DeVos was a tireless advocate of school choice programs in her home state of Michigan, where she headed up the state’s Republican Party. DeVos also served as a top donor and fundraiser in Michigan, where she also fervently supported the Detroit charter school system.
Supporters of school choice say programs like school vouchers and tax credit scholarships are critical because they allow students -- who come from primarily low-income backgrounds -- the opportunity to attend different schools and take control of their education.
The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association, lambasted DeVos’ visit on Monday.
“It’s no surprise that Betsy DeVos will be visiting a private school among her stops in Tallahassee,” FEA president Joanne McCall said in a statement. “She has long shown her opposition to public schools, her support for unfettered vouchers and for-profit charter school chains and her desire to privatize all education in this nation.”
The FEA has been largely critical of DeVos since she was rumored to be in the running for the Education Secretary position earlier this year.
DeVos’ time as Education Secretary has not been met without criticism. She was narrowly confirmed to the position in February in a tie vote from the U.S. Senate, broken by Vice President Mike Pence. The tie-breaker was the first of its kind in Senate history.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.