South Carolina

US Education Secretary DeVos to visit SC Thursday

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is visiting South Carolina Thursday to tour a West Columbia pharmaceutical company and participate in an education roundtable in the Upstate.

DeVos will tour Nephron Pharmaceuticals in West Columbia at 9 a.m. Thursday as the Trump Administration celebrates the more than 250 companies that have signed a “Pledge to America’s Workers” and promised to boost jobs in the U.S. by offering new investment in education, training and workforce development. Nephron has signed that pledge.

DeVos, whose pro-choice advocacy has made her one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet officials, also plans to use the trip to promote her department’s proposed Education Freedom Scholarships. That plan would encourage people to donate to state-based scholarship programs by offering $5 billion in federal tax credits to donors.

DeVos and S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, R-Saluda, will tour Nephron together.

Then the pair will join Republican Gov. Henry McMaster at a 1:30 p.m. roundtable on the Education Freedom Scholarships at Hidden Treasure Christian School in Taylors, S.C.

DeVos also visited South Carolina in February, touring a struggling school district that had to be taken over by the state Education Department.

Nephron, a private company that focuses on respiratory medications, also was featured by NBC News last week for hiring 650 teachers part time at its West Columbia plant.

Note: This story, originally published Tuesday, was updated Wednesday when more details were released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Avery G. Wilks is The State’s senior S.C. State House and politics reporter. He was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. He grew up in Chester, S.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina’s top-ranked Honors College in 2015.