Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visits South Florida schools

MIAMI (WSVN) - United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made a visit to several schools in Miami-Dade County, Thursday.

DeVos began her first visit to Care Elementary School in Northwest Miami-Dade, where she spoke to fourth-grade students. This was DeVos’ first visit to a public school as the Secretary of Education.

“An awesome example of the opportunity provided through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program,” DeVos said. “Nearly all of the students here are participating in that program and wouldn’t be here were it not for that opportunity.”

DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice and voucher programs, for which she has been praised and criticized.

Vice Principal Patrice Smith, who has taught in both private and public schools, said she enjoys teaching in a private school.

“I think both systems have their advantages, but I really enjoy private school because there is a close relationship, and the class sizes are smaller,” Smith said.

DeVos read to the classroom of 15 before handing them a proclamation from President Donald Trump in honor of National School Choice Week.

DeVos then made a stop at Florida International University, where she took a tour of The College of Nursing & Health Sciences and FIU’s Research Center. It was her first visit to a public university since becoming secretary.

Supporters of public education protested DeVos on the university’s campus. Among the signs they held, some read, “Protect our education,” and “Public education no privatization.”

DeVos answered questions about her department’s support for public education.

“The focus of this administration is really to help empower states and locales when it comes to education because all of those decisions are best made, to the greatest extent possible, at the local level,” DeVos said, “and FIU is a great example of that.”

Before noon, she wrapped up her tour by visiting Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM), a public charter school in Miami founded by Pitbull, who also made a special appearance on Thursday.

“What we’re doing here today is deeper than politics,” Pitbull said.

Pitbull opened the vocational school in 2013 in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

Pitbull shared the impact teachers had on his life with the group of students being recognized for making honor roll. DeVos congratulated and shook hands with the students.

“Miami-Dade in particular has done a tremendous job of recognizing that students are individuals,” DeVos said.

Friday morning, DeVos will visit Royal Palm Elementary School and Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

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