INDIANAPOLIS – The students at Providence Cristo Rey High School were ready. It’s not every day they welcome the U.S. Department of Education secretary.
And especially here, where a vast majority of students receive school choice vouchers, Betsy DeVos was welcomed with open arms.
“Good morning, how are you?” DeVos said, greeting students as she arrived Tuesday morning.
DeVos toured the private, Catholic high school hours after telling a crowd in Indianapolis Monday evening President Trump’s administration would propose a historic expansion of school choice nationwide, albeit with few details.
“I know that with any kind of prospect of change, there’s a lot of fear and resistance,” DeVos said in an interview with CBS4 Monday night.
At Cristo Rey, DeVos met privately with school administrators, looking for input on how the federal government can help schools that embrace school choice. Students also presented, sharing their experience as part of the school’s work study program that partners with local corporations.
“What I want her to carry on is this opportunity really does benefit us, not only throughout our school experience but throughout our lives,” Cheick Diallo said, a senior who receives vouchers and plans to attend the University of Notre Dame next year.
“For us it’s opportunity,” he said. “It has been a great opportunity, and I’ve tried to take advantage of it.”
DeVos’ visit to Indianapolis was also welcomed by protests Monday before she addressed the American Federation for Children, the organization she once chaired.
"We will not sit back and be quiet as public schools in Indiana and nationwide are threatened,” Theresa Meredith said at a rally, president of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association.
For DeVos, the visit to a private religious school was purposeful Tuesday as President Trump’s first budget proposal was made public, one that proposes cuts to traditional education programs while increasing the federal investment in school choice, an investment DeVos called the most ambitious in U.S. history.
DeVos wouldn’t comment publicly on the proposal during her stop but is scheduled to testify before a House committee Wednesday.
“The specifics of how that will be accomplished remain to be seen,” she said Monday. “But we’re going to be talking about the necessity about really empowering states in a big way to make this decision.”