U.S. Education Secretary DeVos Touts Education Freedom Scholarships, Encourages Kentucky Leaders to Further Embrace School Choice at Roundtable Discussion

U.S. Education Secretary DeVos Touts Education Freedom Scholarships, Encourages Kentucky Leaders to Further Embrace School Choice at Roundtable Discussion

April 17, 2019

Lexington, Kentucky—Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis for a conversation on education freedom and the importance of giving every student in Kentucky the opportunity to access the education option that works best for them.

The Secretary, Governor and Commissioner hosted more than 20 families, educators, stakeholders and elected officials at the Newtown campus of Bluegrass Community Technical College for the roundtable discussion. The participants discussed the Secretary’s Education Freedom Scholarship proposal and how these scholarships could expand education opportunities in the state.

“I am encouraged to see leaders like Gov. Bevin and Commissioner Lewis working to expand education opportunities in their state,” said Secretary DeVos. “They are dedicated to rethinking education and improving outcomes for all students.

“During our roundtable, we received great feedback on our Education Freedom Scholarships proposal,” Secretary DeVos added. “If passed, Kentucky could receive up to $72 million for scholarships for students. These funds could be used for a myriad of opportunities, including access to apprenticeship programs, summer and afterschool education programs, or transportation to and out of district public schools. The sky is truly the limit as leaders here in Kentucky assess their students’ needs and how best to utilize this additional money to meet those needs.”

Gov. Bevin stated, “We are grateful to Secretary DeVos for her visit to Kentucky today and for her strong advocacy for education reform nationwide. In the Commonwealth, we are striving to equip every single child with the best possible opportunity to succeed, and we appreciate the U.S. Department of Education’s partnership in this vital endeavor.”

Commissioner Lewis added, “If passed by Congress, Education Freedom Scholarships could be used to advance the Kentucky Department of Education’s priorities, namely increasing participation in high-quality, early-learning experiences and increasing student access to dual credit coursework and career and technical education courses and programs. We have made a lot of progress but we still have work to do to ensure every Kentucky student—regardless of district, background, or disability status—has access to the rigorous, high-quality programs and courses needed to prepare them for success in postsecondary education and the workforce.”

Today’s event in Kentucky is one of many the Secretary plans to host around the country to highlight the benefits of expanding education freedom through the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.

List of roundtable participants:
Secretary Betsy DeVos
Gov. Matt Bevin
Wayne Lewis, Kentucky education commissioner
Derrick Ramsey, secretary, Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
Linda Hampton, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood
Hal Heiner, chairman, Kentucky Board of Education
Milton Seymore, vice chairman, Kentucky Board of Education
Dr. Gary Houchens, Kentucky Board of Education
Kristina Slattery, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

Business Groups:
Iris Wilbur, Greater Louisville Inc.
Andi Johnson, Commerce Lexington

Stakeholders:
Ryan Cantrell, American Federation for Children
Andrew McNeill, Americans for Prosperity
Andrew Vandiver, Catholic Conference of Kentucky
Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute
Charles Leis, Ed Choice Kentucky
Deana Paradis, Kentucky Association of Independent Schools
Dr. Kris Williams, chancellor, Kentucky Community and Technical College System
Aaron Thompson, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Heather Huddleston, School Choice Kentucky
Kesia Alim Hatcher, parent
Ailiyah Alim, student