Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday will visit the Manhattan High School for Girls at 154 east 70th Street, the secretary’s first visit to an Orthodox school since taking office. The school website states it is committed to “developing within each student three pillars of excellence — spiritual, intellectual and social — to condition success in her current and future roles and produce a happy, self-fulfilled individual.”
But according to Chalkbeat, a DeVos spokeswoman would not confirm the Tuesday visit, which is also not reflected on the secretary’s agenda for Tuesday.
Back in March 2017, DeVos met with a delegation of Agudath Israel of America’s leadership mission to Washington, which invited her to visit their affiliated schools.
DeVos is known for her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools. She is known as a “fierce proponent of school vouchers” that would allow students to attend private schools with public funding. According to The New York Times, it “is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos.”
The Manhattan High School for Girls, which caters to Haredi and Chassidic young women, encourages students to move on to college after graduation and offers preparation for the SAT and ACT exams. “For good or bad, standardized tests are an important part of the college admissions process,” the school website argues. “Most colleges require either an SAT or an ACT score. (Some colleges require both and some don’t require any, but these are the exceptions.) Not only do high scores improve your chance of getting into a good college, they can also lead to tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships.”
“The results of your SATs and/or ACTs are the second most important part of your preparation for the college admissions process-right after your grades,” the school tells its Haredi students.
Lst June, Secretary DeVos described the role of religion in her life to the NY Times: “My faith motivates me to really try to work on behalf of and advocate for those who are least able to advocate for themselves.”
DeVos’s children were mostly educated in private Christian schools because of their proximity to home and the DeVoses’ preference for faith-based learning. All four of her children graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School. DeVos said she had preferred Grand Rapids’s Christian school over others because its philosophy was to “engage with the world, not hide from the world.”