Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to attend Colorado Springs school choice luncheon

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will come to Colorado Springs on June 26.

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Colorado Springs businessman and real estate developer Steve Schuck and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been friends and allies for a long time.

So, when he invited her to Colorado Springs to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the nonprofit organization Schuck and his wife, Joyce, started to help low-income children attend schools of their choice, she was all in.

“We’ve done national school-choice work together for decades,” Schuck said, “so we’re friends and co-conspirators in the battle for school choice.”

DeVos will attend an invitation-only luncheon June 26 for Parents Challenge, which provides more than 200 scholarships of up to $2,000 annually for qualifying students to attend schools outside their neighborhoods.

“I helped him with his campaign as a businessman running for governor, as opposed to a politician,” said Schuck, who sought the Republican nomination to run for Colorado governor in 1986.

DeVos will discuss school choice at the luncheon and meet with students and parents representing the four types of schools Parents Challenge recipients attend: traditional public, charter public, private and homeschool.

About 400 invitees, primarily beneficiaries and supporters of Parents Challenge, are expected to attend, he said. DeVos is not planning other appearances while she’s in Colorado Springs, he added.

The event will be at James Irwin Charter Schools’ high school field house. The James Irwin network of charter schools, founded 19 years ago in Colorado Springs, is known for producing high-performing students. Minorities make up 70% of enrollment.

Schuck said his organization considered up to 30 schools in the Pikes Peak region at which to hold the event and chose James Irwin because it serves the diverse, low-income demographic Parents Challenge targets for assistance.

“Her highest priority without any question is what is best for the children, especially the disadvantaged kids who are assigned to the worst-performing schools,” he said.

Parents Challenge is funded by about 200 private donors, Schuck said, and doesn’t dictate what type of school students can use the money to attend. About half choose private schools, 20% public charter schools, 15% traditional public schools and 10% homeschooling, he said.

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