NASBE: Conference Session with Secretary Betsy DeVos

Live blogging, updating as we go...

Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO, welcomes attendees, introduces Jay Barth, NASBE Board Chair.

Secretary DeVos is on-site, awaiting her introduction.

Amundson: Excited to introduce our first speaker at this conference. NASBE has always had a relationship with the Secretary of Education. We are among the first to hear from the new Secretary.

DeVos: Thank you all for the warm introduction. Especially great to see folks from Michigan. Thank you all for what you do on behalf of children. I know you're all anticipating a discussion of ESSA, but I want to talk with you about my background. Shares her personal story about getting involved in her son's education in kindergarten, how, "as a mom", she could make decisions about the best school for her child. Wants to break the "bad habit" of Department of Education being in your way. The President's Budget reflects this. Says the Budget also supports our most vulnerable. Budget supports states and school districts. Now, regarding ESSA. The revised template was released last week. Why this law matters: How does this impact individual students? Every child is different with different learning styles. Need individual approaches, not a one size fits all. Talks about Denisha Merriweather (sp?) from Florida. ESSA will serve all students, with an eye to reducing rules, red-tape. Says all states are different, mentions West Virginia, Nevada. Flexibility within ESSA makes it possible to have state plans that are specific to each, unique state. Under ESSA, hope you will implement policies that best serve students, families, and schools. Nothing short of excellence should be a common theme. We should not rest until each child has an opportunity to learn and thrive. I know you're ready to innovate. Your success is key to America's prosperity. Thank you again, and I look forward to working with you in the coming years.

Steps off dais. Waves to all, says, "Thank you all. I wish I had time to say hello to each one of you."


KA: Clearly there are some areas where we can agree. The power that has been devolved to States is wherever you are. Some State Boards of Ed (SBEs) are empowered via State Constitution, others by Statute. All are the citizen's voice in education. Draws on NCAA basketball: "Keep your eye on the ball". The ball for all of us is equity for all. Secretary said, "Nothing short of excellence". If not, what are you going to do about it? [Plays video - mom does whatever it takes, sees what needs to be done.] Our program today and tomorrow with people on topics that will help give you tools necessary to build coalitions, address key issues, increased access to choice ("which is clearly coming"), and the political landscape.