Republican-backed legislation to give parents more control over their children’s education is expected to get a boost in the next Congress if school choice advocate Betsy DeVos is confirmed as President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary.

Some proposals are expected to easily pass next year, such as the reauthorization of Washington, D.C.’s scholarship program, which allows students to use federal money to attend private and charter schools.

But plans to expand school choice nationwide have in the past run into strong opposition from Democrats and some Republicans who see it as a threat to public schools, and hesitation by Republicans to push a federal school policy onto local and school officials, a concept many decry.

Republicans spent most of the past year arguing that the Education Department was interfering in decisions that should be left to state and local officials, such as urging states to adopt Common Core academic standards. Now, to push school choice policies such as federal and state funded vouchers allowing students to attend the school of their choice, they will need to make sure they are not overstepping those same boundaries, said Lindsey Burke, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“The incoming secretary has been a champion of school choice and will hopefully bring that rhetorical support with her, but beyond that it’s fairly limited,” Burke said. “We need to be careful about trying to mandate state and local policy through that federal level.”

Next page: Lawmakers’ efforts to navigate school choice

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