U.S. Education Secretary DeVos Visits Northwestern Michigan College

Traverse City played host to a visitor from the Trump Administration on Thursday.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos turned up on campus at Northwestern Michigan College. She toured both the Great Lakes Maritime Academy and the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. It’s where she says the college is “Scratching the tip of an iceberg in terms of what can be – and what should be – for students.”

Betsy DeVos is a Michigander but made her first visit to Traverse City as the Education Secretary. She says, “Highlighting schools like this and helping people become more aware of the variety of opportunities there are for people to pursue post-high school, I think is really important.”

DeVos spoke with students, faculty, and NMC President Tim Nelson. He says, “To bring the Secretary here, who is interested in innovating and questioning how we do things now, but focusing on the most important thing which is learner, as opposed to the organization, I think it’s a big message to send.”

As the carrier of that message, DeVos says she’s happy to be at NMC. This is clearly a very compelling program for a lot of students.” She adds, “What a great opportunity it is and what a great need there is for individuals to enter this industry, the maritime industry is certainly a very important part of our nation’s fabric.”

The visit is part of what’s called the Back-to-School Tour, which the Secretary says promotes education freedom, and college and career readiness.  “Our goal and focus of the tour is to visit schools that are doing things differently and that our innovating the way and the ways that are meeting students’ needs, and are helping students find the right fit for them.”

The Maritime Academy – and the Great Lakes Culinary Institute were selected for the tour because of its career training programs for jobs in in-demand fields.  DeVos says, “The need and the demand is so great, the opportunities are so great, as we have a growing economy, as we have not had for decades, those opportunities continue to increase.”

It’s the third year for the Back-to-School tour – and DeVos says these programs at NMC are a great example of what schools can be. “For too many kids today they are stuck in schools that aren’t the right fit for them. We need to provide more freedom opportunities so that students and their families can find that right fit and be prepared for great opportunities like here at the Maritime Academy.”

While DeVos has faced pushback for her criticism of public education, she says her tour has included stops at public, private, and charter schools from K-12 and beyond. “We have for a long time, particularly in K-12 education, approached it as more of a one size fits all model. And it’s time to really think differently and allow for a lot more freedom.”

She says NMC is an example of a school that thinks differently. “I know that the students here are of all ages and that is another example of how we have to continue to rethink how we do education; and offer those on-ramps and off-ramps for students to get formal education, to change careers, or get a better career.”