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Betsy DeVos is in New York City — and so far, she’s only touring religious private schools

Betsy DeVos talks with a student in a health sciences program at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Betsy DeVos talks with a student in a health sciences program at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Marta W. Aldrich

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited a private Jewish school in Manhattan Tuesday — a tour the federal education department would not confirm in advance, and was added to her public schedule after she arrived at the school.

But the visit to the Manhattan High School for Girls is just the first stop in a multi-day tour that has kicked off with remarkably little fanfare.

DeVos is scheduled to visit at least one other private Jewish school while she is in New York City, the Yeshiva Darchei Torah Boys School, in Far Rockaway, Queens.

The decision to visit multiple private Jewish schools will likely invite scrutiny. While DeVos has toured religious schools in other states to make the case for school choice policies, local ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools have been criticized for leaving students without basic reading, math, or science skills.

Still, at least one thing appears certain: The country’s top education official has not made plans to visit any district schools in the nation’s largest school system while she’s here, according to city education department spokeswoman Toya Holness.

And it’s unclear whether she reached out to any of the city’s high-performing charter networks, which would be an obvious way to promote school choice, one of her signature policy goals. Spokespeople for three large networks — Achievement First, KIPP, and Uncommon Schools — all said Monday they were not aware of DeVos reaching out to set up a school visit in New York City.

A spokeswoman for Success Academy, the city’s largest charter network (and which has been slower to distance itself from the Trump administration) would not say if they had been contacted or if a visit was planned.

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