College of Education Mike Addonizio, professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies quoted in "How much power will Betsy DeVos wield over states' schools?Return to news listing
Detroit Free Press, 2/7
How much power will Betsy DeVos wield over states' schools?
By Lori Higgins
As U.S. Secretary of Education, West Michigan native and billionaire Betsy DeVos will have wide latitude to set the agenda for federal education policy, including pushing for school choice. But how much power will DeVos wield? Experts say she'll have very little power to mandate school vouchers, which allow taxpayer money to be used to send students to private schools. But she will have influence over other key issues, such as how civil rights complaints are handled and how colleges handle campus sexual assaults. "She doesn't have that much power at all," said Brandon Wright, editorial director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education reform advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., and Ohio. Part of the reason, said Mike Addonizio, a professor in the college of education at Wayne State University, is that the federal government only provides about 10 percent of the revenue used to operate K-12 schools. In Michigan, a combination of other sources — including state and local funding — provides the largest bulk of school funding. Meanwhile, DeVos' ability to push for vouchers is limited by laws in individual states like Michigan, which bars them. It would take a constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters to change that, and the most recent attempt — in 2000 — failed by a large margin. "It’s ultimately a matter of state law," Addonizio said.