Betsy DeVos

NPR Explains How School Choice Might Look Under Betsy DeVos

And it's pretty, pretty good.

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C-SPAN

The nomination of Betsy Devos to head the Department of Education passed the relevant Senate committee on a party line 12-11 vote, after a brief delay when Democrats objected to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voting by proxy.

NPR has a piece today explaining "how school choice might work" under DeVos, drawing from a ranking by the school choice advocacy group Americans for Children (AFC) which DeVos chaired. The group ranked Florida's school choice program number one in the country, although NPR noted the group only ranked states were students were explicitly allowed to choose religious schools. Later, it explains that according to Florida's school choice scholarship organization, students benefiting from the program are overwhelmingly African-American and Hispanic, and more than 70 percent of scholarship money goes toward religious, predominantly Christian, schools. Denying students such a choice severely limits their opportunities for little discernible reason other than a distaste for religious-run institutions, many of whom serve as important providers in marginalized communities.

Religious schools, Christian and otherwise, have a long history in the United States, including being looked at with suspicion about disloyalty during the xenophobic period surrounding World War I. More importantly, such schools have track-records in the communities that they serve. Comprehensive school choice ought to give parents the opportunity to access a wide array of educational options, including public schools and private schools, magnet schools and charter schools, or even homeschooling.

The competitive pressures all the different educational providers face in an environment of increased choice improves the quality of services and the outcomes across the board. It doesn't mean charter schools, let alone private schools, religious or otherwise, are against public schools, and, despite posturing by teachers' unions, the reverse shouldn't apply either.

Florida's program was ranked number one, NPR reports, because of its "broad eligibility, reaching families with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level; for the generosity of the tax break to donors, a dollar-for-dollar match with a cap that increases automatically each year; and for the large size of scholarships, nearly $6,000."

The scholarship program is set up as tax credits and matching programs that permits corporations, other organizations, and individuals to choose to fund private scholarships, thus largely bypassing concerns about "public money" going for religious purposes (although the vast majority of so-called "religious schools," once known as parochial schools, have largely secular curriculums, with components aimed at the religious life of the student that are usually sensitive to children of different faith or even none at all). The objection to religious schools, like the objection to homeschooling, is based on an inaccurate biased belief that these modes of education are somehow inferior or intellectually lacking, as well as an irrational fear of religious organizations and motivations, despite both private schools and homeschooling becoming more popular in large part due to failing local schools.

Opponents of Florida's school choice program, notably, do not specifically claim that the schools at which students use the state scholarship's money are somehow subpar. Instead, when the teachers union and other interest groups sued, they argued the state constitution required "uniform education."

A spokesman for the Florida Education Association (FEA) told NPR that non-public schools Florida students can go to thanks to state scholarship funds "don't have to follow the state curriculum, don't have to participate in testing, don't have to hire certified teachers. They don't have to follow the same rules."

In other words, students are not trapped in the cartel run by the teachers unions and its friends. Students in more states should be so lucky, and NPR is certainly right about looking to Florida as a model. As an expert they spoke to noted, there's little "fungible" money in the federal education budget; Florida's model offers an opportunity to make funds available for school choice despite that challenge—likely DeVos is considering it, but if not perhaps NPR gave her a good idea!

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  1. The progs re more unhinged and deranged over Devos than anything else. Strikes them to the core.

    How else with they use taxpayers to pay for the brainwashing of a generation?

    1. “Strikes them to the core.”

      Something there was done by you and seen by me.

    2. To their inner common core, can we say?

  2. The competitive pressures all the different educational providers face in an environment of increased choice improves the quality of services and the outcomes across the board. It doesn’t mean charter schools, let alone private schools, religious or otherwise, are against public schools, and, despite posturing by teachers’ unions, the reverse shouldn’t apply either.

    Oh, Edward. Edward, Edward, Edward.

    1. Two educational providers enter, one educational provider leaves!

      Thunder-School!

      1. “Two educational providers enter, one educational provider leaves!

        Thunder-School!”

        Wait, I thought that was College Algebra?

    2. If you’re in favor of school choice, you’re against public skoolz!

    3. Well, are they competing or not? If they’re competing, then they are competing “against each other”, aren’t they?

  3. I didn’t read the article, but my hunch is it involves rich people literally eating children. Am I close?

    1. #infowars

      1. I’ve seeing a lot of jokes about Alex Jones’ fluoridated water conspiracy lately from the left, as if they’re completely unaware that it is the uber liberal areas of the country who are removing fluoride from their water because they think it gives them cancer. Those same super liberal areas also usually see the lowest vaccination rates.

        1. Yeah. If you’re looking for guidance on who counts as a nutty conspiracy theorist, you should definitely listen to the people who believe Vladimir Putin controls the Western media, the outcomes of Western elections, and an army of omnipotent super-hackers.

          1. We have a hardcore chemtrails nutter in east Tucson. Puts up signs along the roads. Hadn’t seen any for awhile – either he violated his probation, or didn’t want to compete with campaign. Regardless, he’s back. I kinda missed them. I’d love to meet the guy, but I have a feeling he’s probably not in good shape mentally.

            1. I’d love to meet the guy, but I have a feeling he’s probably not in good shape mentally.

              Wear a nice black suit, shades, and rent a black SUV (if you don’t already have one) before paying him a visit. Should be far more entertaining.

              A good pair of sneakers, the extra insurance on the rental that you probably normally turn down, and body armor (with trauma plate) might also be a good idea too.

        2. One of my dental hygienists once gave me that nonsense. Her exact words:

          “It gives you the dumbs. Look it up on Google when you get home.”

          If, in a professional capacity, you say “the dumbs”, I automatically mentally circular-file any advice given.

          1. I like it. I plan on working “the dumbs” into my work vocabulary.

            “Looks like accounting has a case of the dumbs again.”

            1. Sometimes I think I’m living in my own Truman Show.

              1. The Trump Show is entertainment at its best!!

            2. Accounting is the crucible of truth. You must have them confused with marketing.

        3. “Those same super liberal areas also usually see the lowest vaccination rates.”

          “Many Marin parents are deciding against vaccination for their children, raising concerns about increased risks of disease and giving the county the highest vaccine-refusal rate in the Bay Area.”
          http://www.marinmagazine.com/S…..the-Shots/

        4. “Those same super liberal areas also usually see the lowest vaccination rates.”

          So, Liberalism, left to its own devices, is self-eliminating….

    2. There is no eating of children; the rich merely hunt them for sport.

      “Release the Hounds!”

    3. Why would we eat children? We’re much better off when they toil in our monocle-polishing mines.

      1. I’ve heard their meat is much more tender, kind of like veal.

        1. Not the working ones – you have to cage them at a young age if you want tender.

      2. They are tender ?

  4. Preeeety, preeeety good.

    [Narrowed searching gaze scanning back and forth]

    1. Ed didn’t say the T-word. Not even once. That’s a man who understands his audience.

      *puffs bubble pipe*

      We shall watch his career with great interest.

      1. *** snorts ***

        Why should he mention *terrorism* in an *education* art….Oh. OHHHH!

      2. I am an unabashed Eddie Kray fanboi, and have been for some time.

        Always consistently good stuff from Ed, imo.

      3. Taint? In an article about children? What’s wrong with you you sick pedo?

    2. Preet? Where? Where! WHERE?

      Hide yo’ children, hide yo’ wife, they chippin’ errybody up in here!

      1. Did not one get that that was a Curb Your Enthusiasm reference?

  5. Sharia School.

    1. School choice does not include Sharia schools. Only schools that don’t threaten our national security.

      1. There goes my idea for the School of the Inquisition.

        1. So you say, but we all know surprise is your greatest weapon!

        2. Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

  6. But that will leave children in failing public schools!

    Yes. That is what we want to happen, so they’re abandoned completely by and allowed to shutter. Since we allow unions to keep terrible teachers without any public veto power over it, there is no other choice but the nuclear option.

    End public sector unionization. Fire shitty teachers/cops/bureaucrats. This problem will rectify itself. Otherwise, get ready for the vouchers.

    1. i prefer the term “exit” over abandon.

    2. I never got how people on either side don’t see that the problems with teachers unions and police unions are identical. They’re bullying corrupt organizations opposed to any reforms who protect the few very bad apples among them at extremely high cost, tarnishing the majority of good ones.

      Of course I also never got how people on both sides don’t see that the Drug War and gun bans rely on the same failed principles. Where a market for something exists, somebody will provide. When the government bans it, the product simply goes underground to gang-controlled black markets, leading to more violence.

      1. Why are you limiting it just the teacher and police unions? How about every single union ever formed? Actually, name one industry where the union actually made the industry better. As a bone, I’ll throw you the professional sports unions, but even they are highly debatable. UAW. United Steelworkers. And who can forget the whole Hostess bankruptcy debacle?

        1. Before unions became sanctioned arms of the government thanks to NLRA, they did advocate for redressing some legitimate grievances (like getting killed on the job). That’s not to say they didn’t get out of hand at times (e.g. armed confrontations). Also, when the bargaining power between unions and employers is not tipped too far out of balance to favor the unions, they can function as employee advocates and employment agencies (but they also have incentives to police their own).

          But most large, stagnant unions in this country are as parasitic as teachers’ and police unions. But the private-sector unions have generally seen their power wane as they kill of the host companies and economic activity moves into non-union business.

        2. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of unions. It’s actually a very libertarian idea.

          The problems begin when they’re used as political tools. Vote our way so that our current competitors are punished and new entrants to the market have so high a regulatory burden that they can’t compete.

          The problem is not that unions buy politicians. It’s that politicians are worth buying. End their power and see which unions shrivel up and which ones remain to serve their workers as promised.

          tl;dr: Fuck you, cut spending.

          1. What he said.

          2. The problems begin when they’re used as political tools.

            The problems begin when they are given privileged legal positions and the backing of the government.

          3. “There’s nothing wrong with the idea of unions. It’s actually a very libertarian idea.”

            Aren’t they (mostly) compulsory – violating the idea of freedom of contract?

            1. No? On the second. Why can’t someone choose to contract with a group to only hire labor represented by that group?

              1. In strong union areas only the union officials have a choice. Neither the employers nor the employees can opt-out.

            2. Not in the PUBLIC sector.

        3. As a bone, I’ll throw you the professional sports unions, but even they are highly debatable.

          Yeah, it’s debatable. Considering that pro soccer players, who have no collective bargaining, are better-paid than baseball, football, or basketball players in North America, and have considerably more freedom to change teams for better opportunities.

          1. The sports union v team owner thing has always had a distinct whiff of Dems v Reps to me – its a show, meant to pacify the public and/or the union members. They are just two sides of the same team.

            Disclaimer: this impression is based on total ignorance of the facts. The way I like it.

  7. DeVos, whose family has long supported causes associated with the Christian religious right, has publicly called education reform a way to “advance God’s kingdom.”

    “Well, isn’t that special education?”

    1. The John & Eddie signal is lit!

      1. Argh! It was just supposed to be a Church Lady joke!

      2. Worst superhero team ever. Eddie’s hairshirt costume is particularly horrifying.

        1. +1 Cilice and self-flagellation.

        2. Eddie throws dead fetuses at the villains while John just stands there and berates them.

          1. No, John whips them with the bloody shirt he’s always waving.

            1. +1 Lance of Longinus

            2. No, Yes, and

              Basic rules of improv, SugarFree.

              1. I adhere to no rule but the rule of threes.

          2. John just stands there and berates them.

            You mean he doesn’t actually have mind-reading and/or hypnotic powers? That his Jedi mind trick doesn’t even work on the feeble minded?

  8. With school choice, will I have the option to send my legal orphans to the mines during the day? I mean, they don’t like to be away from the undocumented orphans for 8 hours.

    1. “Legal” orphans?

      And you call yourself a libertarian.

      When I get a new batch of orphans, they all have to burn all identification and other personal items during the ritual “Culling of the Noobs”.

    2. I’d call it “Hands-on Tradesman Apprenticeship” and have less paperwork to fill out, but yes.

  9. not bernhard rust no matter how hard progs try

    You so cray, Kray.

  10. See i don’t think the brainwashing goes on at schools that would be affected by this school choice. This I suspect is largely in more liberal areas with better public schools and private schools to begin with. Also college

    They don’t like this because:

    1. The poor may not be poor anymore since they have options now
    2. The unions obviously will lose out

  11. My youngest brother goes to a private school an hour north of my parents home. Our town has a decent public grade school and a shit high school. I went through the whole thing, as did my closer brother. I’ve been in a few arguments with my former teachers, and they really don’t see the writing on the wall. They can not admit what they did there. The high school sent undesirable students to a tech center so they wouldn’t have to deal with them for half the day. They had favorite students who really weren’t anything but suck ups. These students got credits for doing approved progressive side projects and clubs. The approval process was something like “is the student in the approved group that we’ve been bowing to for 5 years? Are they family friends with the teachers or other faculty?”

  12. . Denying students such a choice severely limits their opportunities for little discernable [sp] reason other than a distaste for religious-run institutions

    You say this as though its not *more than enough* for most prestige-media editorial writers

  13. students benefiting from the program are overwhelmingly African-American and Hispanic

    So one could still technically claim that minorities are hardest hit.

    1. Hardest hit . . . with knowledge!

  14. Students in more states should be so lucky…

    Austin’s debating it right now, so’s the rumor. I still haven’t decided how I feel about it. On the one hand, they’re talking backpack funding.

    Picture this. The debit card is for $6k (let’s say). Private School A says tuition all-in costs $5500; ISD B says, “The debit card is for us, just hand it over and we’ll take care of it.”

    Some people will hand over the debit card to the public school and keep doing what they, their father and their father before him has been doing. Others are going to be thinking, “… but if I send my kid to private school, I still have $500 left for supplies and clothes and shoes.”

    Four families withdrew from the local ISD to homeschool this year, that I know of. It is not a large school. They likely had to trim the budget; another four families, and they would definitely have to trim the number of teachers.

    Now hand the parents backpack funding.

    It’ll be a decimation.

    To the left, those words translated into practical reality come with baggage. When I think about receiving a state debit card to fund my children’s education, my mouth puckers up.

    1. I don’t understand the problem here.

      1. You have summed it up nicely.

      2. Read between the lines and you’ll see a pastor screaming at children that evolution is a lie and women are objects while simultaneously raping them.

    2. But that’s unfair to the children who have shitty parents!!!

      1. They used to have shitty, well-funded schools not educating them. Now they will have shitty, well-funded parents not educating them. At least the parents don’t require a dozen pensions per class.

        I dunno. We can spitball, and it’s fun, but locally this will be uncharted territory. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

  15. Perchance the commenters here could help me with a response to an argument that was brought before me from an anti-voser.

    Choice is fine. Being an enemy of public schools and disabled kids programs is not the person who should be in this position. Not to mention that she has no clue what’s involved; she bombed several questions involving the most fundamental elements of education. And she’s never even been to or put kids through public school. Nightmare.

    I have a pretty solid idea how to argue against those views, but any additional input would be a huge boon! Thanks Reasonites

    1. When the people that “understand” education do such a bad job of it, perhaps a little ignorance is valuable.

    2. And she’s never even been to or put kids through public school.

      I don’t understand this point. Perhaps that’s why DeVos believes in school choice. Maybe she believes more people should have access to the non-public alternatives she had.

      1. And she’s never even been to or put kids through public school.

        Weird how this kind of real-life test is applied so . . . selectively.

      2. I went to public school, and I’m all for school choice. In fact, I say privatize it all.

        1. I went to the School of Hard Knocks. Something I think everyone should experience!

    3. What? Voucher can go to any school that meets minimum qualifications. If you’ve got a disabled child, why wouldn’t funding a school that caters specifically to their disabilities not be valuable?

      Democrats playing ‘gotcha’ games in questioning are unpersuasive. Rubber-stamp Obama appointees, blacklist Trump appointees. Education should be run by partisans for sure.

      Yeah, and the voices from inside the public school system are doing so very well. It’s about time that an outsider steps in and cleans up the damned mess.

      This is all “muh roads” repackaged as if education would never happen without our intrepid public servants.

      1. There seem to be a lot of people who argue that disabled children deserve to be at the same schools as everyone else, so sending them to special schools is bad. Which seems to be stupid. I’ve seen some disabled kids make amazing progress at schools specially tailored to their particular disabilities who were just getting nowhere being “mainstreamed” at the public schools. And then there is the effect on students who actually could learn something at public schools, but get ignored because they have to deal with all the kids with disciplinary problems and disabilities.

        As usual, a big part of the problem is the assumption that one solution must work for everyone.

        1. As usual, a big part of the problem is the assumption that one solution must work for everyone.

          In Trump’s America, you must be referring to the final solution, especially referring to disabled children. I can’t believe you’d even suggest that, Nazi scum. Back to the alt right with you!

    4. Do you know how old the Department of Education is? Just what has it done since its inception? Why would you want a Department of Education that someone whom you disagree so violently with might get to run some day?

      We can both hope that she simply gets Congress to shut it down. Right?

      1. Do you know how old the Department of Education is?

        Current version as a separate department? 1980, so 37 years.

    5. Fundamental changes don’t often happen from the inside.

    6. She has staff people to explain to her the various BS regulations, and attorneys to figure out how to work around those regulations.

      She’s not stuck in a rubber room with a copy of the rulebook and told to figure it out herself.

    7. Choice is fine

      No – it’s a fundamental human right.

      Being an enemy of public schools and disabled kids programs is not the person who should be in this position

      That’s just name-calling. If asserting the fundamental right of choice in education is “being an enemy of the public schools,” then the public schools became my enemy before I became theirs.

      The “enemy of disabled kids programs” is just a gotcha. Not being aware of all the ways ADA shakes out, and even being critical of some of the colossally stupid and destructive ways that it shakes out, is not the same as being “an enemy of disabled kids programs.”

      She was asked no questions that I know of regarding “the most fundamental elements of education.” And I’m speaking as a former teacher. She was asked to repeat some insider shibboleths, which she admirably failed to do, as these “debates” about methodologies are red herrings. As DOOMco points out, the voices from inside the failing system are probably not the first ones to put stock in.

    8. And she’s never even been to or put kids through public school.

      If you want me to take a dump in a box and slap a “Guaranteed product of Public Education” sticker on it, I will. I’ve got time.

  16. I’d prefer that there be a system of tax credits rather than letting private schools put their snouts in the taxpayer trough, BUT…given a choice between the government paying for the previous failed system and the government supporting parents who go to schools of choice, I guess I’d choose the latter.

    But beware the higher-education example.

    The sooner it gets to a system of taxpayer choice, where taxpayers decide whether to support their local public school or a private/homeschool option, the better.

    1. Hmmm…maybe I should at least glance at the article:

      “The scholarship program is set up as tax credits and matching programs that permits corporations, other organizations, and individuals to choose to fund private scholarships, thus largely bypassing concerns about “public money” going for religious purposes”

  17. That’s all well and good, but we’re losing sight of the big picture here – what does this mean for refugees?

  18. By the way, credit where it’s due…the staff avoids Religion Derangement Syndrome…I hope they don’t think I have only critical things to say about their coverage.

  19. Americans for Children

    I suppose the suggestion is that you’re either for children or against them. I’m going to start my own group: “Americans Indifferent to Children”.

    1. You sound like a heartless liber… oh, hey there.

    2. How about “Americans Against Children Unemployment”?

      1. *Child

    3. How can you be indifferent to children, they make such docile slave laborers!

  20. The disabled kids thing is a red herring. If government truly exists to help the most vulnerable members of society, then surely it can shoulder the kids with special needs. Let the rest of the pack run as they will. Sort of like we do with food.

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