Grand Rapids

Betsy DeVos takes questions during W. MI visit

24 Hour News 8 web staff -

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was back home in West Michigan Tuesday for her first public outing in the area since taking office.

DeVos' first stop of the day was at the Van Andel Education Institute, where she met with teachers, fifth- and sixth-graders. DeVos visited their classroom work stations and talked with them about what they're learning.

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DeVos also took questions from the children. Some students had some tough ones lined up, including one who asked her about charter schools, vouchers and how students will get to school if they use those.

"We want to make sure that all parents and kids have opportunities to go to schools that work for each of those children. And some of that can involve helping children get to and from those schools. It really, it really depends upon the situation and the town and the community and what the needs are for students in that community," DeVos said.

"We want to make sure that every single child has an opportunity to really pursue all of their curiosities and learn and really contribute to our country in a way that is to the fullest extent of what they can do themselves," she added.

"Seeing them take that opportunity to ask questions, I hope it honors what we try to teach them, which is their voice is important," Van Andel Education Institute chief education officer Terra Tarango said.

After meeting with students, DeVos took questions from teachers behind closed doors without cameras at the staff's request.

DeVos then visited Grand Rapids Community College Tuesday, where she toured the culinary kitchen, manufacturing technology lab and auto lab, speaking with staff and students. She also sat down with 24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin to reflect on her first six months on the job.

There were some protesters who gathered to voice their opposition to DeVos.

"I agree that they (the DeVoses) have done very positive things in the community, but when it comes to education, I don't believe she's qualified to be in the position she's in," Jenison Public Schools teacher Aaron Brossiet said.

DeVos said her visit showed her "that this community has multiple ways of meeting the needs of students and is doing so very well and very effectively."

"That's not to say everything is perfect or nothing can get better," she said. "We should be focused on continually improving everything we do on behalf of the students we serve."


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