Highlights from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' Remarks to the Council of Chief State School Officers

Highlights from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' Remarks to the Council of Chief State School Officers

March 20, 2017

The following remarks were given today at 4:30 p.m. ET at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"Thank you, Chris, for that kind welcome. And thank you all for the work you do on behalf of the parents and students of your state."

"I think most of us would agree that common sense doesn’t always win out in Washington. Too often, the Department of Education has gone outside of its established authority and created roadblocks – wittingly or unwittingly – for parents and educators alike.

"This isn't right, nor is it acceptable. Under this Administration, we will break this habit."

"As all of you are aware, the Department released the revised consolidated state plan template last week.

"I know the members of this room are familiar with the technical aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act, but I believe it’s helpful to take a step back and examine why this law matters.

"At the end of the day, we should measure everything we do by one question: how does this impact individual students?

"Every child is different, with varying skills and learning styles. We shouldn’t then force them into a one-size-fits all education system. Our education approaches should be as varied as the students they serve."

"Public policy can provide the framework to encourage flexibility and diversification within our education system to meet the needs of students and set them up for success in adulthood. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of ESSA."

"As Chiefs you are often the ones who sit down and figure out exactly how your states can maximize the freedom and flexibility given to you under ESSA. You’re the ones who have to make 'the trains run on time.'

"The purpose of giving you that latitude is to ensure that all students have access to quality options for education.

"One of you who deserves recognition for his attention to this issue is John White, Louisiana’s superintendent. John has led the charge in his state to protect the hard-earned reforms that have expanded school options for parents and more importantly gave students a learning environment that best fit their individual needs. Thank you, John, for your continued work.

"I’d also like to recognize Tony Smith, the superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education and a member of CCSSO’s Board of Directors.

"Before coming to Illinois, Tony built quite a reputation for turning schools around in California. As the superintendent of Oakland schools, Tony inherited a district with a 40 million dollar deficit. In four years, he was able to balance the budget while also making Oakland the most improved district in California according to the state.

"In Illinois, he’s taken the lead on working to give more educational opportunities to underserved populations throughout the state. He’s also spearheading an initiative to ensure 60 percent of the state’s students have some form of high-quality postsecondary credential by 2025, thereby giving them a better chance at a good-paying job. I applaud Tony’s commitment to his state’s students and his continued work on behalf of Illinois."

"We must never lose sight of our mission: providing each child with the chance to pursue a great education in a safe and nurturing environment.

"I know you’re ready to lead in a new way. You’re ready to innovate. You’re ready to work with your local partners, district by district and school by school, to ensure that every one of your students can grow and thrive."