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Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos Visits Salt Lake, Touts School Choice

Lee Hale
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visits with students at Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was in Salt Lake City Tuesday. She spent the morning visiting with students and school leaders at the Granite Technical Institute, part of Granite School District.

DeVos was given a tour of the vocational school which included a stop at a manufacturing lab where students were making objects out of carbon fiber.


She chatted with students about the hands-on nature of the class, which is part of a statewide Pathways program meant to equip students career-ready skills. DeVos said she was impressed with what she saw.


Later, speaking with the media, DeVos reiterated her support of school choice.


“All children should have an equal opportunity for a great education and we are committed to empowering parents to be able to make more of those decisions on behalf of their children," DeVos said.


Government funded vouchers which would allow students to attend private schools for free have not been a popular option in Utah.


Despite the state legislature and Governor approving a voucher program in 2007, Utahns voted it down with a veto referendum. More than 60% of voters were against vouchers.


DeVos acknowledged that this should be a state decision.


“If the state of Utah decided they didn’t want to participate in something they certainly would have that right," said DeVos. "I would certainly hope to encourage leadership to consider otherwise.”


Later in the afternoon DeVos addressed participants at an education tech conference downtown. She again emphasized school choice and said her job is to get the federal government out of the way of education innovation.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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