School choice is not an option for rural areas, three senators told U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her in Senate testimony Tuesday.
The two Democrats and one Republican cited long travel times and a lack of both students and infrastructure in explaining why school choice programs would fail in rural school districts.
“We don’t have that luxury of [school choice], because we have a lot of schools consolidated already, closing because of lack of students,” said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Accounting for cuts to other programs in the Trump administration’s proposed budget, he asked, “How can we make up that difference?”
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Vermont’s Patrick Leahy also raised concerns about the ability to expand school choice. DeVos proposed that states not benefitting from school choice could use their ESSA plans, which require her approval, to address rural students’ specific needs.
This is just the latest pushback DeVos faced for her focus on school choice from those who represent more isolated areas. (Read more about those issues here.)