School Choice

The Question Isn't Do You Support Betsy DeVos, It's Whether You Support School Choice

The nominee for secretary of education may be an imperfect vessel but what she represents can't be filibustered forever.


Keith A. Almli, CC, Wikimedia

With the day-long attempt by Democrats to "hold the floor" of the Senate to delay and disrupt the planned confirmation for the next secretary of education mostly in the rearview mirror, it now seems likely that President Trump's controversial nominee, Betsy DeVos, will squeak by on a 50-50 vote. (Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the Senate, will get to cast the deciding vote after two GOP senators said they will vote no.)

There are two basic charges against DeVos, and one is more serious than the other.

The less serious, though mostly accurate, one is that she is plainly inexperienced. Like Trump entering the Oval Office, she has never overseen a public office or department, much less than one with nearly 5,000 employees. The Department of Education, founded only in 1979, is the smallest of all cabinet agencies in terms of personnel and budget ("just" $73 billion in 2016). This is to say it's a minor cabinet office that was so unnecessary the coutry somehow got by without one until the waning years of the Jimmy Carter presidency (in 1980, Ronald Reagan said he would abolish it if he won; instead he just massively increased its budget). DeVos is a billionaire through marriage, to Dick DeVos, the heir to the Amway fortune, and while she invests in a wide range of more or less interesting businesses (including Neurocore, which is trying to use biofeedback to cure depression and other ailments), she doesn't rise to the level of, say, Carly Fiorina in terms of business chops. Similarly, she has never worked at or run a school or district, leaving her devoid of direct experience with education other than as a student and a parent (which isn't nothing, exactly, but still not much).

So that first point is taken: She is inexperienced in running the sort of shop she's about to take over. But then again, if she's a competent administrator, that's really what the job demands. As education analysts such as University of Arkansas' Jay P. Greene and Reason Foundation's Lisa Snell have told me, the education secretary has relatively little to do, as most federal funds are pre-committed through funding formulas that are difficult to monkey with very much. What the secretary can do is set a broad agenda and a tone. And that, not her lack of credentials, is why Democratic senators tried to "hold the floor" against her. DeVos has been very involved in Republican politics at the national and state levels, where she chaired the Michigan Republican Party and has supported all sorts of school-choice plans.

Given that, Senate Democrats and teachers unions are dead-set against her. The DeVos vote isn't ultimately about whether or not a Detroit billionaire runs a program that accounts for only 10 percent of K-12 spending around the country. (The federal government's influence is magnified by the conditions and rules it attaches to schools that receive any federal money.) It's about DeVos's outspoken support for both the general idea of publicly financed school choice and specific plans. Here, for instance, is Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, tweeting his disapproval:


Wyden is one of the most reputable people in the Senate—or in Washington politics altogether. Yet he is wrong here, and on multiple counts. The first is that DeVos or Trump is somehow going to "privatize" public education. From a libertarian perspective, that may or may not be a good idea (I know I like the concept of separating the state from education very much; how do you raise truly independent thinkers otherwise?), but nothing like that is on the table. If you argue that "privatization" of public education happens when, say, K-12 students get taxpayer-financed money to go to private schools, your outrage would be better directed to the college-level Pell, student loan, and other financial aid programs that spend $130 billion a year, much of it going to private schools with religious affiliations.

Beyond improperly invoking privatization, Wyden's critique somehow presumes that not privatizing public education—that is, maintaining the status quo—will in fact "give every child the chance to succeed." The fact is that when you look at the long-term assessments of K-12 education, graduating seniors are doing no better now than when the government started collecting data in the early 1970s (at the same time, American kids are scoring lower than they used to in international comparisons).


None of that might matter if, say, we were also spending the same amount of money per pupil that we were in 1973. But of course that's not the case. In terms of total expenditures measured in constant dollars, we are spending about more than twice as much per pupil now as we were in the early 1970s ($6,253 vs. $13,142). And there's no question that "chances to succeed" are distributed unequally throughout the public school system, with better odds closely tracking the children of wealthier, more-educated parents who attend schools that are more responsive to student needs.

To the extent that lower odds of succeeding are concentrated in poorer, urban districts, the very best fix is to introduce all sorts of programs that give students and parents more choices (and let's be clear: Publicly funded charter schools and voucher programs come with oversight, not least of which is that parents can take their kids and the tuition dollars elsewhere; try doing that when you can only attend a school based on your street address). As Arkansas' Greene has written, it's true that on average charter schools have a similar academic-performance profile to public schools. But once you start doing apples-to-apples comparisons to students attending charters and public schools (randomized-control trials or RCTs), something very clear presents itself:

Students in urban areas do significantly better in school if they attend a charter schools than if they attend a traditional public school. These academic benefits of urban charter schools are quite large. In Boston, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, Duke, and the University of Michigan, conducted a RCT and found: "The charter school effects reported here are therefore large enough to reduce the black-white reading gap in middle school by two-thirds."

A RCT of charter schools in New York City by a Stanford researcher found an even larger effect: "On average, a student who attended a charter school for all of grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86 percent of the 'Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap' in math and 66 percent of the achievement gap in English."

The same Stanford researcher conducted an RCT of charter schools in Chicago and found: "students in charter schools outperformed a comparable group of lotteried-out students who remained in regular Chicago public schools by 5 to 6 percentile points in math and about 5 percentile points in reading…. To put the gains in perspective, it may help to know that 5 to 6 percentile points is just under half of the gap between the average disadvantaged, minority student in Chicago public schools and the average middle-income, nonminority student in a suburban district."

And the last RCT was a national study conducted by researchers at Mathematica for the US Department of Education. It found significant gains for disadvantaged students in charter schools but the opposite for wealthy suburban students in charter schools. They could not determine why the benefits of charters were found only in urban, disadvantaged settings, but their findings are consistent with the three other RCTs that found significant achievement gains for charter students in Boston, Chicago, and New York City.

More here.

I'm sure that most of the Senate Democrats opposing Betsy DeVos think they are opposing an inexperienced billionaire whose secret dream is to loot public school coffers for…what, exactly? Some sort of bizarre right-wing agenda, I suppose. DeVos' brother did start the company called Blackwater, so maybe her dedication to giving poor kids more options than they would otherwise have is really a way of helping her bro staff his mercenary forces?

Or maybe it's just a more simple misunderstanding, one rooted in special-interest politics. The Democrats are closely allied with teachers unions, who threatened by any and all changes to the educational status quo. So of course they oppose Betsy DeVos and they will use any club on the ground to beat down her chances. But to the extent that DeVos—and Trump, too, who has been outspoken on the need for more school choice—are in favor of giving more students and more parents more choices when it comes educating their kids, they are on the side of the angels. A recent poll found that 68 percent of Americans favor expanding school choice, including 55 percent of self-described Democrats, 75 percent among Latinos, 75 percent among millennials, and 72 percent among blacks. Contemporary politics may not allow partisans to admit that (or even see it), but for those of us who are neither pro-Trump across the board or always anti-Democratic Party, the conversation surrounding the DeVos nomination is everything that's wrong with Washington.

Related Video: A Libertarian Builds Low-Cost Schools for the Masses.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Trump Travel Ban in Court Today, Democrats Protest DeVos, Suicide Bombing Outside Afghan Supreme Court

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  1. The most common argument against her I’ve seen is that she didn’t go to public school and she doesn’t send her kids to public school. I have yet to see any evidence any of the previous 6 Secretaries of Educations met either of those requirements. The same thing can be said of Obama for Christ’s sake.

    The second most common complaint is that she’s going to eliminate evolution an replace it with creationism in every school and force kids to be Christian, which is just stupid. I consider the evolution controversy a minor one with very little real-world consequences. It is a problem only in principle. Let’s get our kids to know how to read and do basic math. Then I will worry about creationism.

    1. Creationism in public schools isn’t even that important to many Christians. There are plenty of Christians who don’t want their children being taught creationism in public schools.

      1. And even if it were, who cares? Parents own their children’s educations not the state. If Christians want to teach their kids creationism and atheists want to teach their kids about the wonders of the great evolution, that is their prerogative.

        1. My point was that it’s mostly an unfounded fear. There are plenty of Christians who don’t want their school boards dominated by radical fundamentalists.

          A majority of Christians, last time I checked, supported gay marriage, too.

          It’s time to bury the Christian boogeyman image in the progressives’ heads. They make like everyday average Christians are all like the Westboro Baptist Church–and use that straw man image to divide people against each other.

          1. It will never be buried. it doesn’t matter how many. As long as there is one parent anywhere teaching their kids anything other than approved Progressive Dogma, the Progressives will be unhappy and want such people crushed. It is who they are.

            1. Every religion wants to eliminate its competition.

              1. Bingo! We have a winner!

              2. Bullshit. There are religions such as Judaism that dont want you to join them.

                1. That’s what the Jews want you to think. The whole ‘you’re not allowed in’ thing is just to make us all want in even more!

          2. Good luck on that burial. Progs cling to their various monsters under the bed for eternity. It saves them the trouble of having to make a substantive argument.

          3. Dammit

            */Stops sharpening axe and hangs head in sadness

      2. The biggest bible-thumping, young earth, creationist I ever met was part of a 7-person clan that attended public schools K-12. He was probably the highest academic achiever that I ever encountered with the most premium GPA of anyone I ever met, and also ended up being a very mediocre engineer by trade.

        1. ended up being a very mediocre engineer by trade

          That’s not surprising. Engineering is about questioning assumptions, taking tests (and church) is not.

          1. We do other stuff too.

        2. If only he had fucking loved science more…he could’ve excelled in a notable prog profession…like journalist or barista

          1. He had the work ethic of a motherfucker and at times I shake my head thinking about how he just got swallowed up by the defense contractor industry and nobody ever heard from him again, no publications, no nothing. As Ken points out, creationist children can not only coexist with everyone else in public school, they can thrive.

        3. WTF is it with engineers and creationism? So many creationists are engineers by trade. I just don’t get it.

          1. For my limited exerience, for a guy like that (a young earth creationist of some Protestant flavour) is a sample set of 1, and I have never met anyone like that ever since. I’ve worked with a lot more Mormons but never solicited or understood their feelings about earth age and creationism. Another thing I would add about him is that he struggled pretty hard getting the grasp of a new concept if there weren’t example problems pair with a solution to said problems.

          2. Engineers often have trouble with the idea that order can arise spontaneously; they think of everything as being “designed” because that’s what they do for a living.

            1. Ah. Thanks for that.

              Back to the lab!

          3. I think because there’s a kind of engineer that simply repeats the “normal” equations just with a different set of numbers to put in. Memorize the equations. No originality. Not looking for the best way to do things but the accepted way to do things. I never could figure out why they had that approach, I just knew that there were quite a few who did.

      3. The United States is at least two thirds Christian, I doubt most of them believe in Creationism.

        1. Depends on what you mean by that term.

          The Apostle’s Creed is pretty broadly accepted among the various denominations as central to the faith. It clearly says God is responsible for all of creation. So broadly speaking the vast majority of Christians are creationists.

          If you say ‘creationism’ and mean ‘rejects all forms or concepts of evolution’ then you are probably correct.

          1. It’s possible to interpret the western religion paradigm as a metaphorical framework for reality being equivalent to God. There is no issue with reconciliation of theology and science. Science should only lend itself to this understanding.

          2. As an agnostic, not tied to any one belief, I am attracted to the idea of evolution as the tool creator used, as an artist may use Photoshop.

            Of course a good deal of that is the sneaking suspicion that many animals (the giraffe springs to mind) look like somebody has been playing with the cosmic sliders to see what would happen.

        2. What is a Christian? People who consider themselves to be Christians have been slaughtering each other for 2,000 years. The Deist Thomas Paine summed it up well in “The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition” when he wrote: “The Calvinist, who damns children of a span long to hell to burn forever for the glory of God (and this is called Christianity), and the Universalist who preaches that all shall be saved and none shall be damned (and this also is called Christianity), boasts alike of their holy [revealed] religion and their Christian faith.”

          DeVos will be working to pump a lot more tax dollars into religious schools.

          Progress! Bob Johnson

      4. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do


    2. The most common argument I’ve heard is that she’s ignorant of what exactly the DoEd does and how it does it and therefore isn’t qualified to oversee the continuation of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Same argument with the State Department, how can the State Department keep doing what it’s always done if you’re bringing in people who don’t understand what it is the State Department’s been doing?

      That and she thinks school kids should be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves from grizzly bear attacks – just like Sarah Palin.

      1. My frequent question:

        If the Department of Education were shut down today, is there a school in the country that could not open tomorrow?

        1. You’re not old enough to remember when all schools shut-down in 1979 due to Iran. This led to the DOE opening in 1980 and all the schools reopening.

          1. What on Earth are you talking about? I remember 1979 quite well and was in school at the time. Schools didn’t shut down here because of anything in Iran or anywhere else or anything else. Iranian schools did, but not ours.

            1. I think it was sarcasm. Always assume sarcasm, unless it’s Tony.

    3. I consider the evolution controversy a minor one with very little real-world consequences. It is a problem only in principle. Let’s get our kids to know how to read and do basic math. Then I will worry about creationism.

      Actually, I consider it to be a bit of the opposite. We short-change math and reading to teach students just enough evolution (in public schools) to be retarded biologists. The grade school coverage of evolution is much closer to indoctrination than anything resembling learning, discovery, or expanding horizons. It’s similar to/with the greenhouse effect. Grade school kids get taught the barest of fundamental principles more in an effort to bolster credentialed scientifism rather than to teach them discovery.

      Examples of a fundamental belief in this notion can be found both in and outside of Christian communities and from either side of the aisle. Technically, the whole “can’t bring jobs back” idiocy is rather explicitly founded on the notion that the public education system can’t/couldn’t do what it effectively promises or aspires to do.

      1. Exactly this. My biology teacher in high school was a PhD that liked teaching high school more than being a professor at a local college. He made sure to teach evolution in a very technical manner, and boy, was that class hard. I don’t think any of the other students in my high school were well served by their biology teachers teaching evolution, since their understanding of it wasn’t near the PhD’s.

        1. I had a college history professor who liked to point out that, under the laws of the state of Georgia, he wasn’t qualified to teach history in high school. And then he’d give a knowing nod in the direction of the College of Education building. There were people who couldn’t pass one of his classes who were somehow more qualified to teach than he was, according to the state of Georgia.

          1. Colleges of education were long considered the very bottom of the Academic heap in Academia (my late Father was a college professor). With the various “fill this blank with the name of your favorite politically correct ‘minority'” Studies programs, this may no longer be true…..

    4. While we’re on the subject of disinformation…

      I’m in a conservative county. My third grader’s reading on government (state approved) not only was incorrect about the roles and responsibilities of the branches, it included “diversity” as a key function of government. This was not a passing reference to “diversity”, it received an entire section of extra reading, more than anything else.

      1. If people really understood the crap that is being taught in public schools, no one would say there is any such thing as a “good public school”.

        1. Frankly I’m about at my wit’s end and I’ve got my daughter in a “good” public school. The testing has moved almost completely to computer, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to provide assistance when they struggle because you can’t find out where their thinking went wrong.

          And by February/March, all the teaching moves to prepping for the SOL tests. Forget about anything else.

          1. The half-year SOL stupidity, among other things, finally ticked me off enough to pull my last kid from the publics in VA.

            I have been asked, when mentioning she is in the local Catholic school, if they teach evolution. I like to say that not only do they, they run rings around the publics with respect to rigor and then top it off with letting them know all of the sciences are taught by Dominican sisters.

            My older two often comment on their kid sisters’ class rigor, and they went to the local “gifted” school.

            1. I’ve got my oldest in a Catholic classical school. I think the other two are headed the same way. Just gotta figure out the funding.

            2. I went to Catholic school for k-10. Academics were great, but that teachers and administrators didn’t put up with shit from parents or students was more important imo.

              97% of students went on to college, but more importantly most were independent thinking with a code of ethics who knew how to deal with hearing “no.”

            3. My public school was about as good as the local catholic boys’ high school, but not as good as the best in the city. I completely agree that rigor was lacking, as was critical thinking, from our public school. That’s completely evidenced by the fact that I managed to pilot my 9th grade (lower level, just above remedial class) debate team to a 2nd place finish over all but one Accelerated class, and the one subject that we lost on was Pro-Nuclear Proliferation, and our judge was the Accelerated class teacher, who marched against Nukes in the 60s. The Accelerated kids, for the most part, did not know how to argue, how to hear no for an answer, or how to think critically. I also managed to persuade three of those four we faced in the final debate that there was a point to invading Iraq two years later when I roomed with them on a school trip (I was obviously wrong).

            4. I went to a small Catholic school (~150 students in HS) and it ran circles around the local public schools. The only real downside was its cliquishness. My 2 younger sisters begged to go to public school, and their education definitely suffered. I’ve heard that it’s gone downhill since, but I don’t know. Either way, I am certain that when my son is going to school in a few years, it will be a Catholic or otherwise Private school. Funding is the only real concern.

              1. If you don’t fit in (as I never have and never will), Catholic School is hell on Earth. Worst four years of my life. To this day I wonder if my self-esteem issues were not greatly exacerbated by being made to feel like the most hated person in school for four years.

                Teaching was mostly great, with one substantial exception (a pre-calculus class “taught” by an 85 year old priest).

                1. My Catholic elementary school was pretty meh, a bunch of the teachers were downright terrible, and some managed to be both terrible, and petty little tyrants at the same time.

                  I have no complaints about the girls from the Catholic school when I went to public high school however.

                  1. “I have no complaints about the girls from the Catholic school”

                    Yeah, we didn’t have those. I’m not sure I actually saw a high school aged girl in person my four years in high school.

                2. Voros, I love you.

                  Unfortunately I can’t make it to Phoenix next month. Hopefully next year we can have another beer.

      2. it included “diversity” as a key function of government

        That’s… disturbing.

      3. My boy’s 3-grade civics taught him the the president was the ‘head of the government and has the final say.’

        1. That’s definitely true, remember in Article 8 chapter 19 verse 12 it says, “The president has a pen, and a phone and he can use that to fist everyone.”

        2. Since the president has the final say, did you ask his teacher about that wall?

    5. The first complaint is that she is inexperienced with public schools. Well, given the public school system is widely viewed as failed or failing, why is having no institutional experience, or leadership history, with public schools considered a freakin’ bad thing?

      I’d rather they eliminate the Department altogether, but failing that would like to see someone in the leadership spot that is not beholden to the failed public education system and its administrators.

      1. It’s almost the same argument as those against Pruitt for EPA Administrator. How could someone that sued the EPA possibly know how to administer goodly?

        1. Maybe he knows what’s wrong with it.

    6. Creationism is a strawman. The majority of religious schools are Catholic and the Pope is cool with evolution. Creationist dogma just scares people easily.

      1. The areas of the South where creationism is almost universal, vaccination rates are above 99%. It is in liberal West Coast cities where vaccination rates are at 75% and they are voting to get rid of fluoride in their water because they think it gives them cancer. Which has more real-life consequences?

        1. Grew up Catholic and haven’t met one who disbelieves in evolution wholesale. Evangelicals on the other hand…

      2. Not so much a strawman as a bugbear.

        The vast, vast majority of all Christians, Jews, Muslims, along with many Buddhists, and most Hindus believe in a supernatural force as being responsible for creation of all of existence.

        Taken as a whole they all believe that there is a sentient controlling force governing the universe, and that that force can and does play an ongoing roll in events. To be sure their ideas are spread along a continuum, but the notion that ‘creationists’ are somehow not part and parcel of the group is intended to divide while also disparaging the fundamental belief of all of them.

    7. I consider the evolution controversy a minor one with very little real-world consequences.

      Except for the whole first amendment thing.

      1. The importance of the Amendment has nothing to do with the measure of the problem.

      2. I expect most creationists object to evolution being taught the way it is as a 1st Amendment issue. Essentially the government is giving its imprimatur on a belief system at odds with their own.

        1. Which is just another example of what happens when libertarian principle is forsaken for ‘libertarian’ outcomes.

          If the government was not so deep into ‘providing’ (ie. controlling) education then the teaching of evolution or creationism would not be an issue.

    8. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do


    9. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do


  2. “The Democrats are closely allied with teachers unions, who [are] threatened by any and all changes to the educational status quo. So of course they oppose Betsy DeVos and they will use any club on the ground to beat down her chances.

    That’s the ticket right there.

    They fear a shift in the Overton window.

    School choice has already gone from radical to acceptable, and they’re afraid her confirmation would signal to parents everywhere that school choice has shifted from acceptable to sensible. The teachers unions fear that.

    From a general progressive perspective, too, they just don’t like the idea of average people making choices for themselves over the objections of experts in our education bureaucracies. What’s the point of being an elitist if you can’t lord over people?

    1. It’s all about the gravy train.

    2. And worse, black parents are the ones most harmed by horrible public schools and likely to support school choice. If Republicans deliver them school choice and improve their kids’ education, a few black parents might vote Republican. And nothing terrifies Democrats more than that.

    3. I don’t think school choice was ever particularly radical. Just another uphill battle for the left, trying to overcome logic and common sense with vague criticisms that are immediately overcome by a factual explanation of the program.

      1. Large school districts already have a great deal of school choice; it really just comes down to money and power.

        1. I think the real threat to them is the addition of vouchers. Many school choice systems involve institutions under the umbrella of control of the local district. Having to compete with private schools that aren’t beholden to the county is terrifying.

          A reasonable lefty friend of mine is a 4th grade teacher at a shitty school. She is rabidly anti Devos because she claims that vouchers will only benefit the affluent kids, whose parents will be able to arrange transportation. She also said that kids with IEP’s would likely stay public, saturating classrooms with problematic students who drag the pace of classes to a crawl. Not weighing in on these claims, just repeating them.

          1. I would think that special private schools that deal specifically with IEPs would emerge to capture the extra subsidy IEPs would likely entail.

            1. Interesting thought, presuming there isn’t some sort of bar that would preclude private schools from the subsidy (which would create a self fulfilling prohpecy.)

              1. One of the things that drags down public education is trying to mainline everyone into the same classroom. It’s likely best for all to separate the kids by their ability to learn. The lefties know this when they complain that a school who can choose it’s students does better because it won’t take the problem kids. Well then, have separate classes or schools for the harder to teach kids. Oh, that’s right – it will stigmatize them.

                1. I was in Catholic school from k-10, then a public school in a new state for 11. I was an incorrigible fucker, so they held me back a year and booted me to continuation school. Once in the company of 90 students who were much more hardcore I, being a true rebel, decided to give it up and be good. I completed 2 years of school that year and graduated on time.

                  Moral of story: You’re right. Boot the little fuckers into a concentrated school.

    4. It’s the same mentality that wants to limit speech supposedly because “words hurt” but actually because their world view is so fragile that almost any new idea can disrupt it. Reality is impinging on their world and like their Puritan intellectual ancestors they have to kill witches to prevent their vengeful god from destroying all of existence.

      DeVos is lucky that she isn’t thrown into a lake to see if she floats.

  3. Those DNC coffers aren’t going to fill themselves

  4. Actually thanks to Harry Reid, Devos can’t be filibustered at all. She is going to be confirmed.

    Second, can we stop pretending Ron Wyden is a friend of liberty? Sorry but thinking that the government shouldn’t spy on people, while nice, doesn’t make up for thinking people should be forcibly taxed and required to send their kids to the local public school monopoly.

  5. The objection to this sound pick is yet another testimonial to the criminal scum in D.C.
    Name one good thing about the US public school system that is not actually a function of good parenting.

    The whole system should be dismantled it is such a colossal waste of money with abysmal results.

  6. A couple points regarding Ron:

    1. She never planned on privatizing public education. School choice does not mean getting rid of public schools. It is a mix

    2. What is the fallacy where someone cites well it won’t help 100% therefore we can’t do it at all? Letting perfect be the enemy of good or better

    3. If the public schools were to go away completely since people would send their kids to private….wouldn’t this be a terrible endorsement of the public schools by democrat politicians?

    In other words –> if the dems fear the public schools will be destroyed, this means the dems think the public schools are crappy and they have a low opinion of them

    4. It is funny the people against choice are the ones that send their kids to private. But someone who supports choice and sends kids to private is bad. Doesn’t make sense

    1. Interesting. Is it adjusted for inflation?

      1. Do we need to adjust counts of people for inflation?

        And the one line that has dollars specifically says (billions, 2015 dollars).

        1. “Do we need to adjust counts of people for inflation?”

          Well we do have rampant obesity ….

          1. If you’re not careful, HM is going to post something about inflation porn.

      2. The final line is listed as denominated in 2015 dollars. That means that it is adjusted for inflation.

    2. Won’t somebody think of the librarians?

  7. “The less-serious, though mostly accurate one, is that she is plainly inexperienced.”

    There?right there?within the first inch of this piece is a premise that needs completely rejected.

    Inexperienced? Why?because she’s not a freak’n lawyer or doesn’t have a couple gooey, stinky, worthless educrat degrees?

    To put someone in charge of a department that should not exist in the first place?someone that has shown contempt for what that department has wrought?.I’ll take that any day rather than some predictable dweeb that will just continue more of the same.

    She might cause chaos and damage in that department?

    Any libertarian with even weak creds should be yelling “Bring it on!”

    1. My thoughts exactly. As we all know, most of her staff is frozen in place like every department and the thing largely runs itself. (Because it was designed to.)

    2. my answer to the experience question is, what have all those credentialed professionals managed to achieve?

      1. Nothing good.

  8. “Wyden is one of the most reputable people in the Senate”

    Really? Wyden is OK, only in the fact that he will sometimes quietly challenges government authority (he sheepishly joined Rand’s filibuster), but this is the same guy who tweeted out that Gorsuch was akin to a neo-Nazi. Oh wait, you re-tweeted that. Scratch what I said. I meant you’re a goddamn joke of a man, Gillespie.

    1. Of course, really, because he’s in support of one of Nick’s pet issues.

  9. It would also be helpful to push back against lies like all charter schools are for-profit and that they “steal” funding from public school.

    But no matter, Nick is right that they’ve already lost the argument for public opinion with regard to actual working class families and even middle class families of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Because at the end of the day they have no response for why rich white liberals should have the freedom to choose what schools to send their kids too and not poor families.

    1. The public school system is more segregated and more unequal than it was under Jim Crow. If you can’t afford private school or to pay the premium in rent or housing values that comes with living in a good school district, you are fucked. Your kids are not getting an education. They will be warehoused for 12 years in a publicly funded youth prison where criminal elements are allowed to prey on them.

      But anyone who wants to end that system and empower parents to send their kids to decent schools no matter where they can afford to live is a racist who just hates poor children. God I loath these people.

      1. That’s not totally true. Kids who have parents who are engaged can still get a decent education in a crappy public school. It’s the kids with deadbeat parents who are truly fucked in shitty schools. They might have a chance in good schools, because they’d have teachers doing what their parents should be doing at home. But with neither they are hopeless.

        1. It is not entirely true. But it takes one hell of an engaged parent to get a good education at a lot of these schools. So engaged in fact, they are not much different than home schooling. And the other thing is how much better would those kids with engaged parents do in good schools? Just because not everyone fails doesn’t mean they are not harmed.

          1. Not to mention many of the people trapped in Democratic machine-run systems are themselves multiple-generation victims of failing schools. Imagine trying to teach your child up to a standard expected by even a relatively unpretentious state university if you yourself know little about writing term papers, or algebra.

            Now imagine doing so in a community so instantiated in its victimhood and so rife with criminality that keeping your kid safe and out of trouble is a much more pressing issue than enforcing possibly unachievable academic expectations.

            I’ve related this before: an ex of mine was born in Detroit but managed to spend a year in Jamaica at the invitation of a woman active in the church she attended. She was eleven or twelve, totally a product of her upbringing, and was blown away by the rigor and discipline of the school she attended there. And when she returned she was shunned by her former friends for being ambitious and well-spoken. Her mother responded by getting the hell out of Detroit and moving to Texas.

            Progressives are disgusting on many issues, but this one is especially despicable.

        2. Like with everything else Democrats look at well performing public school in a affluent area and conclude that the its success is due to it receiving more money from its larger tax base rather than the affluent families making up that tax base being better prepared for parenthood rather than poor people.

          Kind of like how they look at homeownership and conclude that putting poor people in homes will make them not poor, ignoring the fact that people who can buy homes with their own money and credit are already financially literate.

          1. But dont those bad public schools receive the most funding in the first place? per student

          2. Generally that is true. But not every kid in a poor school is dumb and not every parent in such places is neglectful. And those kids and parents ought to have the ability to seek something better if they want.

            Also, the needs of the kids who are poor and come from dysfunctional families is different than the needs of the kids who come from good families. Public schools just shove them into a one size fits all school and fail all of them. If you had school choice and parents of kids who had behavioral problems or were not cut out for regular school for whatever reason, could send their kids to schools that catored to those kids and everyone would be better off.

            You can’t overstate how bad our public schools are. Even the “good” schools are only good if the kid is a certain kind of kid cut out for that education. If they are not, they are SOL.

          3. Democrats and leftists in general seem to get cause and effect messed up.

            I remember one time I was talking with this progressive idiot who really believed that watching The Daily Show made him smart. After all, smart people watched that show. So if he watched it then that must mean he was smart.

            Fucking morons.

        3. Possible, I suppose, but the kids going to the shitty schools are not typically among the best-parented. Yes, I’ve heard numerous tales of the single mom busting her ass on two jobs or the couple working like mad, but these are rank exceptions.

  10. Or maybe it’s just a more simple misunderstanding, one rooted in special-interest politics. The Democrats are closely allied with teachers unions, who threatened by any and all changes to the educational status quo.

    Yeah sure Ron. Maybe they mean well but just don’t understand. I think I am going with they are acting entirely in their own self interest here and don’t give a shit about whether schools actually work. In fact, I think they want the schools to fail so they can forever have a justification to rob the taxpayers of more money. Moreover, there is a pretty large dose of “appeal to white suburbanites by ensuring black and poor kids never have a chance to compete with the white suburbanite kids by keeping the poor kids in lousy schools” going on here. All the bullshit about “saving the public schools” is nothing but the unions giving people a rationalization for fucking poor kids.

    1. I think it is more likely that there is a variety of opinions among teacher union members ranging from complete self interest to legitimately wanting to provide the best education they can. Like it or not, a lot of people actually do believe that public schools are the best way to go and that without government schools education wouldn’t be available for everyone.

      1. No. I don’t think anyone who believes public schools are the best way is doing anything but rationalizing their own self interest. Go find me someone who doesn’t in some way benefit from the public schools who says that. You won’t.

        1. There are plenty of teacher union members who wouldn’t be members if their state allowed it.

          1. Yes. And they would go to a charter or private school in a second if they could. The good teachers hate the current system.

        2. Go find me someone who doesn’t in some way benefit from the public schools who says that. You won’t.

          Um, yeah, I will and I do. I can go find you 10 people right now who aren’t teachers or union members and think that public schools are a good thing. Most people understand that there are problems with public schools, but not that many are willing to give up on the idea entirely. If everyone except teachers’ union members thought that public schools should be abolished, they would be abolished.

        3. Go find me someone who doesn’t in some way benefit from the public schools who says that.

          60% of the voters say that every damn time there’s a ballot initiative to raise taxes for the schools, John. The majority of the voters ra?lly and truly do believe the primary problem with the public school system is that they don’t have enough money.

          1. It may be completely stupid, but public schools really are popular. People really do buy into the notion that they are necessary to having an adequately educated society.

            1. People really do buy into the notion that they are necessary to having an adequately educated society.

              yet how many of those same people acknowledge that schools are failing in that goal? My kids went public, too, and had some great teachers along the way. I actually feel sorry for the classroom teacher, as that person is hamstrung by the stupid rules and philosophies enacted by educrats who’ve not been in front of a class in years.

              1. Yeah. I’m not saying a majority of people think public schools are great as they are now, but that they think they are something that government should be obliged to provide and should exist.

          2. And the truth is 60% of them probably are happy with their schools. But a 60% success rate is pretty lousy when you consider the amount of money we spend.

      2. There’s too much self-interest and evidence of putting the union ahead of kids to let them off the hook that much. Certainly, there are teachers who are mostly interested in actual education, but too many are in favor of the educational-industrial complex, rather than students. Of course, plenty outside of education think there’s no option, too, but that kind of thinking is weakening as other options grow more appealing.

        1. That is more or less what I’m saying. Some teachers just go after self interest and want a relatively easy and reasonably well compensated job with lots of vacation. But there are plenty who either really care about teaching in spite of all the bullshit, and some who actually believe the unions when they say that they really care primarily about providing a quality education. Those people may be suckers and dupes, but they are largely genuine.

  11. People keep talking about this as if she is going to be running all the public schools in the country directly. Which of course is not at all what the department of education does. Whatever reforms do or don’t happen in public schools is going to have to be at the state and district level. So most objections to this woman are irrelevant.

    1. It’s just the usual grandstanding

  12. Why not abolish the DoE and let the states privatize or not, as they each decide? I think state control of schools is bad, too, but at least it’s constitutional at the state level.

    1. This is the correct answer. The DoEd is simply a money-funneling operation. Well, that’s all it was until the proggies decided they could capture it and use Title IX to fuck with everyone.

      1. They talk about deregulation, but why not get rid of the more egregious enabling acts? Or, at least, weaken them and the related agencies?

  13. If DeVos somehow comes up short, I hope Trump doubles down on somebody that makes the education establishment even more upset.

    What’s Michelle Rhee doing these days?

    1. Apparently she was Trump’s backup choice.

    2. Give it to me. I was briefly a substitute teacher before law school, and I was a fellow at the EOP during the Clinton administration, so I have the credentials. Right?

      1. Too much of a conflict of interest when you replace the school lunches with the Mounty Python menu.

        1. Well, I have to fund my family somehow.

  14. But you don’t understand what is as stake! School choice would mean robbing the Unions of their power children being taught Religion, with your tax dollars!

  15. The Question Isn’t Do You Support Betsy DeVos, It’s Whether You Support School Choice

    People on the left only understand people. Principles? No comprende. They don’t care about school choice. If someone who the hive approved of liked school choice, then they’d love school choice. And still hate this person. And hate school choice while hating this person. Then love that other person and love school choice too. No principles. No intellectual honesty. No consistency. Just emotion. That’s it.

    1. Yup. Guns, violence, secession, and nullification are all acceptable now and not just the purview of racist rednecks.

  16. This was in my local paper today. Kind of pisses me off. Indiana is a solid red state, but they are considering this because of low enrollment in Gary schools. I say they’d be better off having 100% charter schools.

    Indiana Considering Ban on New Charter Schools in Gary

        1. He’s a leppo.

        2. “Gary, Indiana Gary, Indiana Not Louisiana Paris, France New York or Rome, But Gary, Indiana Gary, Indiana Gary, Indiana, My home sweet home.”

          Actually not mine, just drove through it many times between Cleveland and Minneapolis, but I’ve never been able to get that piece of music from The Music Man out of my head 🙂

    1. Gary School Trustee Nellie Moore told lawmakers the school corporation’s financial instability, caused by students leaving for charter schools

      This is the BS it sounds like, right?

    2. Melton explained last week to the Senate Appropriations Committee that Gary has lost about half its student population, or 5,300 pupils, to charter schools since 2009, dropping enrollment in the city’s public schools to just 5,500 children.

      The solution is obvious! Ban the schools that people are moving to.

      1. You, sir or madam (or other), have a future in government. You are a genius.

  17. I’d also like to make it very clear to these assholes that unless you’re my wife, there will never, ever be such a thing as “our children”.

    One of my biggest pet peeves with politicians is the collectivist thinking with regard to personal spheres like the family unit.

    1. But it takes a village, dude.

      1. One specific village. It’s called the District of Columbia.

    2. I agree. I hate that shit. In fact, that attitude has caused me over time to conclude public schools should be abolished altogether. The price of public education has been to engender the idea that society and worse the government should have more control over children than their parents. And there are few more damaging ideas that a society could have.

      1. That is really terrible and disturbing. Now they seem to be working on getting younger and younger kids into the public school system with all-day kindergarten and pre-K stuff.

        1. Just give everyone a voucher and leave it entirely up to the parents what school their kids go to. And the preK stuff is entirely about creating a jobs program for Democratic voters and indoctrinating children. There isn’t a shred of evidence preK education creates any lasting educational benefit. It is just free daycare and a jobs program disguised as “education”.

          1. Yep. I agree completely with you there.

          2. Is it supposed to be more than daycare? I just thought it was the new word for daycare, and people were saying it should be free like in Europe so poor working moms can work more. I don’t think I ever heard the phrase pre-K when I was growing up.

            1. Hater. The “studies” clearly spell out the societal and academic benefits for broad based pre-K daycare.

              1. From what I’ve heard, the studies mostly show that any benefits of “early education” are gone within several years and there is little or no lasting benefit.

            2. It was called “preschool” my whole life. Not sure why they changed it.

              1. They need “preschool” for the next program for even younger kids.

          3. Don’t you realize that yokel parents will all send their children to fundamentalist, Nazi schools where they’ll be taught Creation Race Hate, that God created white people 6000 years ago and the serpent’s apple in the Garden of Eden corrupted the DNA of white people and created the mutant races comprised of dark skinned, slant eyed criminals, idiots and atheists.

            1. Yeah Bob. You nailed it dude.

            2. Seeing as how parents should be the final arbiter of their children’s education, I’m actually ok with that.

              Anything else would be tyranny.

          4. Like cutting class size from 30 to 15. It created a need for twice as many teachers, but are the kids really getting a better education?

      2. It would be better if we all just admitted public school is subsidized babysitting. Because then there would be no myth about it being necessary and educational. But parents lie to themselves that it’s good for kids, so they don’t have to face up to the fact that they don’t want to watch them. Which makes it easier for the government and unions to sneak in propaganda and benefit financially.

        1. Think about it, if parents just admitted it was babysitting then they would focus on things like making sure the “babysitter” wasn’t an asshole. But the lie that it is educational leads to tolerating horrible behavior in teachers since that is beside the point. But kids don’t learn as much in public school as they would practically anywhere else since parents truly don’t care about that either. So it’s basically a jail with a worse jobs program because everyone is just lying to themselves and each other.

          1. This on stilts. It’s a terrible babysitting center to allow modern households to generate juuuust enough secondary income to be profitable. If you actually care about your child’s education too bad – they’re stuck in the class with Johnny Fuckwit whose junkie parents offload him on your dime.

    3. unless you’re my wife, there will never, ever be such a thing as “our children”

      Yeah! You tell those baby mama hoes to stop riding your ass about the support checks! I feel ya! You got enough on your plate!

  18. I really hope DeVos doesn’t try to use her office to promote her neurofeedback quackery in schools–or at least, if she does, she’ll sell it using a MLM scam and no kid will ever actually see the products.
    I’m normally sufficiently wary of people involved with shady shit like this I want to keep them out of government entirely. But she’s about as good as one could be in Education without actually working to destroy it; plus I want to see those hypocritical fucks who have turned against her lose so bad!

  19. Great article Nick! No equivocation because this is the Trump administration.


    Al Franken called Devos incompetent. Al Franken. Words really fail to describe just how awful these people are.

    1. He did? Horseshit. She is good enough, she is smart enough…

    2. I remember how experienced Al Franken was when he arrived in DC.

  21. Nick, your Mathematica/DOE RCT link is dead.

    here’s one that works:…..3714558292

    please update.

  22. charters are too popular in poor urban areas where they succeed for Betsy’s nom to matter anymore.

    1. I’m not sure i understand your point.

      You think school choice doesn’t matter anywhere except urban areas? or that charters are guaranteed to survive there sans political support’?

      the latter is not my experience at all. All it takes is a change of administration and they can be stamped out, or at least crippled. DeBlasio would have defunded them in NYC if he could have gotten away with it. instead he’s mostly just tried to limit their growth under his regime, keeping tens of thousands of kids on ‘waiting lists’ as he maintains a cap on school expansion.

      1. I would give my figurative left nut to have access to some of the property tax proceeds I paid, to allocate toward a charter, hell, even a Catholic alternative to our local K-8 shitshow. At this point we are expecting to pay the supplemental costs anyway in this mostly rural area. Damn right the desire for school choice isn’t limited to the urban centres.

        1. My folks sent all 8 of us to Catholic school, saving the district a shitload of money. My dad fumed over not having some kind of tax incentive for doing so.

          1. “All 8”

            fuck man your parents must not have had television huh?

            1. Ev’ry sperm is sacred

              1. With the exception of yours truly, all of em’ are college educated, well adjusted, successful, tax paying people. I do pay taxes at least

  23. I said it above but will say again….since the dems are worried school choice would end public schools, isnt this them admitting they aren’t all that good otherwise what do they have to worry about?

    If prog ideas were so great, not sure why they have to be mandatory.

    1. Heard a somewhat more articulate claim that special needs students will stay public along with poor kids whose parents don’t have the means to arrange transportation (I have serious doubts about the latter claim.) The conclusion is that classrooms will be concentrated with problematic students whose needs will grind down the pace of learning for everyone.

      1. Seeing as parental involvement has a strong correlation with kid’s success, it does seem likely that expanded school choice will lead to poor-performing students (who are also mostly from financially poor families) being concentrated in public schools, and that private-but-cheap school that was pimped by Reason a few weeks back explicitly didn’t take special needs kids.

        So it’s seems reasonable. I don’t have enough data to assess whether I think it’s likely.

        1. They are already concentrated in these schools to begin with so at worst school choice results in status quo.

          It is beneficial to the kids and parents who care about education wanting to get out of a school where mainly others dont care

        2. On a more philosophical note, that parental involvement correlates to academic success leads to a larger view of culture. I read a piece on the 7 most successful demographics in the US by education and income which included Cuban Americans, Indian Americans, Nigerian Americans, Mormons, Jews, Chinese Americans and … can’t recall.

          Anyways, the point is that they all place high value on education, hard work and making something of one’s self. On the converse, hood culture (I’ve lived in several) tends to place “being the man” above all else, even in opposition to academic achievement. Having gone to private school, the fact that all of my friends were going to college was more of a push than the solid education I received there.

          I’m skeptical as to how much impact education policy can have on something so pervasive and wary of the unintended consequences resulting from well intentioned meddling. This doesn’t negate the potentially positive impact school choice may have for parents who wish to move their kids into a different educational environment.

      2. Our grandkids spent a couple years in early elementary in a local Mennonite school which was a 15 minute drive away. Despite covering the whole city, they had full sized buses and smaller vans that went to where the kids were and got them to the school. We choose to take them most of the time because the buses had longer routes as they were only occasionally picking up kids and took a longer time to get to the school – but they got there.

    2. “If prog ideas were so great, not sure why they have to be mandatory.”
      Frankly, humans are terrible at delayed gratification and longterm planning. It’s why people are terrible at saving for anything, be it college, retirement, house downpayments, or their next video game. People are very susceptible to short-term rewards while putting off the payment, which is why credit cards are a dangerous trap for many. People are shitty at math, which is why gambling is a lucrative enterprise.

      In short, people -as a group- don’t behave very logically.

      So it’s a cute jab, but whether you’re talking about “prog” ideas, “conservative” ideas, “libertarian” ideas, or even “small fuzzy creature from Alpha Centauri” ideas, just being “great” is never enough.

      1. Well then that is their problem. It is not my responsibility or yours to make decisions for others and nanny them

        Progs claim how great min wage raising is for business, how great singlepayer is, how great social security is, how great free college is…if so then can be made voluntary.

        1. Voluntaryism seems like a very difficult concept for progressive thinkers to accept. I don’t know if it’s because of the “us vs. them” narrative, if it’s because of simple envy, if it’s because they think the instrument of state will never be directed against them, or if they genuinely think humankind is perfectible with the right application of violence.

          1. Progs in a sense i have observed tend to be control freaks

          2. Progressives don’t think that anything is voluntary. Every human action was pre-determined by events in their lives which is why you can’t let people say just anything that they want. Words can bend minds, so words must be carefully controlled, especially in schools.

      2. In short, people -as a group- don’t behave very logically.

        … which makes the application of progressive ideas fundamentally flawed. Governments are groups of people. Put a bunch of illogical people together and you do not spontaneously create logical thinking.

    3. This isn’t even about prog ideas.

      This is purely about power and money keeping certain people in elected office.

  24. The #1 fear about DeVos is that she might actually succeed. If that happens, the jig is up for educrats.

    Shitty public schools are the result of compulsory education. You know school is a stupid idea when the graduation rate exceeds the literacy rate. We’re almost there.

    We don’t need an education system and we don’t need a health care system. Free markets will perform better. Free markets will NOT be perfect, and perfection is what the bureaucrats keep trying to sell. Slowly people are realizing that the bureaucrats can’t deliver better results than the free market. And everyone can see what near-compulsory education has done to college education – it’s made it more expensive and less useful.

  25. DemocRAT politicians are dependent on $ from teacher’s and other unions to continue the abysmal “education” dept. The system that has failed so many since the 1960’s. The pol’s send their own kids to private schools while working to eliminate any reforms that would enable the common people to choose the best option for their own.
    The Dept. of Education created by Pres. Jimmy Carter has used billions of taxpayer $ while the quality of public education has steadily decreased. Time for some competition and freedom of choice.

  26. Why do we need public schools, again? Health is a fundamental aspect of society, on par with (or even more important than) education, yet most hospitals are private and people essentially have a choice as to which hospital to go to. There is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy, but if the hospital system is not nationalized, why should schools be?

    1. If you don’t think children should be forced into the educational equivalent of the DMV for hours on end everyday…well, you just hate children

      1. educational equivalent of the DMV

        I’m stealing this.

    2. Because we have had them for as long as anyone can remember. So people assume they are necessary. Why would we have had them in the first place if we didn’t need them? (goes the reasoning in my imagination)

      1. They were designed for the purpose of creating “good” citizens who all had “sufficient” education and training to fit into the role of a faceless industrial worker.

  27. I just hope that vouchers can change the education culture. It is astonishing to me how parents can divest themselves of all responsibility for the education of their children. They instead think, “oh that’s the school system’s responsibility.” I even had a friend tell me that as she didn’t teach her two stupid children to read before sending them to school. She was a principal at a public HS and is now a Superintendant. I can only hope that if parents had to do something with a voucher instead of just putting their kid on a bus, they might be more engaged.

  28. Liberals don’t like DeVos because her attitudes are strongly shaped by the political wars she’s experienced in Michigan, white Republicans warring with black Democrats, to oversimplify (just a bit). DeVos hates teachers’ unions because they’ve been her primary obstacle, and she figures that if she eliminates public schools, she’ll get rid of the unions as well.

    DeVos (and others) don’t realize that in many areas of the country, people like their public school system. At her hearing, she displayed ignorance of many basic aspects of public schools. Furthermore, DeVos isn’t simply an advocate of charter schools, which were strongly pushed by both the Clinton and Obama administrations, though Hillary’s support waned in 2016 thanks to pressure from resurgent “paleolibs”. DeVos also pushes for public aid for private schools, but she resisted holding privates to the same accountability standards applied to public schools. Public aid for low-income students to attend private schools is feasible, but could easily be converted to a subsidy for the upper middle class, like deductibility of mortgage interest payments.

    In addition, DeVos, like not a few billionaires, has a billion dollars’ worth of attitude.

    1. How would she eliminate public schools as you have said here?

    2. DeVos hates teachers’ unions because they’ve been her primary obstacle, and she figures that if she eliminates public schools, she’ll get rid of the unions as well.

      Yeah, her goal is to destroy the unions and just wants to destroy public schools to do that.

      DeVos also pushes for public aid for private schools, but she resisted holding privates to the same accountability standards applied to public schools.

      If parents have the choice to send them there, there is no reason to hold them to a standard. The parents will. We hold public schools to a standard because their funding is guaranteed.

      You are just a half wit Venneman. You are so stupid and dishonest, I feel a bit embarrassed for you.

      And your move is always the same. Come onto a dead thread, post a long and utterly idiotic and dishonest post, and then run away to avoid the rhetorical beating that you deserve. Its pathetic. You are the worst troll on here not named Mary Stack.

      1. If parents have the choice to send them there, there is no reason to hold them to a standard. The parents will. We hold public schools to a standard because their funding is guaranteed.

        Moreover, private schools are held to standards by the states. You can’t just open Billy Bob’s School for Learnin’ Good and start collecting state funds. At the very least, there are curricular standards to meet to get and maintain accreditation.

        1. which are in most cases applied much more rigorously than they are to public schools. Venneman is appalling .

          1. “Not held accountable” is progtardese for “Not following the curriculum mandated by Top Men”. To them, that’s terrifying. Because kids might learn things other than “climate change is the most important problem of our time” and “WW2’s stimulus ended the Great Depression”.

    3. “Public aid for low-income students to attend private schools is feasible, but could easily be converted to a subsidy for the upper middle class, like deductibility of mortgage interest payments.”

      The fact that people who send their kids to private schools still have to pay taxers that go to pay for public schools is a fairness problem.

      Fairness isn’t just a function of whomever has the least amount of money. “The victim was rich” is no excuse for larceny.

      1. I am not here for your convenience.

        I’m living life for me and the people I care about.

        No apologies.

  29. Enigma what is your position? Is it people are not smart enough to run own lives therefore these experts are needed?

  30. Ok let’s stipulate that people make stupid decisions regarding long term planning.

    Why are public schools the way to go then in terms of long term planning as opposed to school choice? these experts promoting the public schools seem to choose private for their own kids

    If public schools were the best option, then that will be the choice of parents

  31. Seems kind of proggies consider themselves good long term planners….yet latch onto socialism as sound economic policy. It may work great for a few years but past that it becomes a disaster

  32. So it’s official.

    DeVos made it through on Pence’s vote.

    Score +1 on Trump’s libertarian scorecard.

    I’m not saying that Trump is pushing for a libertarian agenda, mind you. It’s just that libertarian solutions are pragmatic, and Trump seems to be going with what works.

    Even if you make blunders in the roll out, you can still push competent policy. There’s something to be said for basic competence in policy–something that’s been lacking for the last 16 years (at least). Obama was slick with the roll out, but if they were terrible policies he was pushing, so what?

    Now if only Trump can squeeze out some more absurd tweets about crowd sizes, whether the media covers terrorist attacks, or something eIse appropriately distracting, maybe he can get Congress to officially do away with the individual mandate and Dodd-Frank while the media runs around in circles screaming about whatever with their panties in a bunch.

    If that happens, we libertarians should be beside ourselves with joy.

    1. Lol seriously? Good job dems and now we get sessions as well?

      Wtf was the point of that

      1. Note: i dont think sessions is good. But wondering what the hell they are doing that they couldnt block her and now also get sessions

    2. This is the best news I’ve heard all year. The Teacher’s Union racket can’t come crashing down soon enough.

  33. The problem is that she is woefully ignorant about education policy. Over 90% of students go to public schools. In rural areas, having a choice of schools is a fantasy. You need to know something about the department that you wish to change. I am all for school choice; the problem is that public schools don’t get choices.

    Public schools have to service everyone; they can’t pick and choose the students that they want. Some children require a multitude services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nursing services, and counseling services. The local school district is expected to pay for all of it. Public schools get a lot of federal mandates with no federal funding. Not only do you have to service everybody, you can’t just remove a student who is disruptive. Even future prisoners have a right to an education in a regular classroom.

    There are too many regulations that public schools have to follow. You have to be a lawyer to understand half of them. A lot of these regulations stem from lawsuits for things more ridiculous than spilling a hot cup of coffee. Private schools don’t have to follow these laws and that is why they are or at least appear to be better. Private schools also don’t have parents threatening to sue because the teacher gave their kid a detention.

    1. DeVos needs to start by lowering all of the regulations that schools have to follow. The teachers that I know just want to teach. They are professionals who want to do their jobs. Instead, they lose a month of instruction because all students (many countries don’t test all students) have to take mandatory standardized tests. These tests do not measure the skills that students really need: critical thinking, creativity, perseverance and entrepreneurism. Instead, the testing companies create tests to prove that schools are “failing” and then sell their other educational products to fix the “problem.” Teachers don’t fear choice or competition. Many teachers even support charter schools. They just want the rules to be fair.

      1. I can tell you for a fact that they didn’t measure anything but my level of boredom. I bubbled in “ABBACADABBA” and wrote Led Zeppelin lyrics in the open response blocks. It was enough that my teachers were furious and when I said, “You said it doesn’t affect whether I pass or fail. Why should I care?”
        I didn’t care. I couldn’t have cared any LESS, to be honest.
        I carry a 4.0 GPA at the University of Kentucky Graduate School currently, so I can tell you it wasn’t an indicator of my work ethic or my intelligence. I was just sick of what I considered bullcrap and I wasn’t the only one.

    2. Rural areas do have options. My family wakes up at 5 to make sure my youngest sibling gets to his school. We carpool with a few other kids in town. They spend hours planning caepools and arranging rides, deal with scheduling issues.

      1. The majority of people don’t live in rural areas.

        1. Right, so it’s even easier for those in cities to take care of the transportation question.

    3. That’s the nature of the public sector. Live by the state, die by the state. No market mechanisms for self-regulation and quality control. Ignorance about education policy is a red herring, because it never should have been the federal government’s job to influence policy. People who believe that matters are technocrats who think one-size-fits-all solutions are somehow preferable to a free market with a variety of offerings that consumers can choose based on their own unique preferences.

    4. 1. She will not run public schools. You can’t criticize her knowledge when you don’t understand that.

      2. There is no logical reason a private school cannot do the same job as public with that money.

      1. She will not run public schools

        This point can’t be stressed enough. The states and localities run the schools. The DoE wields the cudgel of civil rights law to shuffle money around.

        1. I so wish that was true. It should be at the state and local level. But to get the federal money, you have to comply to their rules. Some federal rules have to be followed, even without money. If you don’t follow special education requirements, parents can sue the school district. There are lawyers that practice just special education law. It is that big.

          There are a lot of different budget lines and grants that schools apply for. A big factor for funding at the state and federal level is the number of free and reduced lunch students that you have. With each line of money, comes a line of rules with it. The amount of paperwork alone is mind-boggling.

    5. I hear the bumper sticker argument “public schools don’t get a choice” from public school teachers all the time. It most often comes from the SAME people arguing that the state should not only fund everyone’s education, and not only administer education, but make it compulsory. If you’ve held a gun to everyone’s head and forced them to utilize only your business, it’s pretty rich when you bitch about everyone demanding the business actually deliver service for their individual kid.

  34. Again, we ignore the core issue. Money and location are not the issue. Quality, content, curriculum, and teacher skill is.
    Those studies fail to ask one question: Why? What are these schools doing differently than public schools? Answer that and it solves your problem. Almost overnight, really. No vouchers needed. No extra money from anybody anywhere. Just a simple readjustment to what is already in place. It might even save a few billion.
    Moreover, I have questions: What do we do with the kids whose families cannot afford the costs of whatever the voucher doesn’t cover? (That will happen.) What do we do with areas in which there isn’t a viable private alternative? (There are plenty) What happens if a huge influx of people start using the vouchers and new taxes need to be made, or existing taxes increased?
    All policies have unintended consequences. I feel like, in our zeal to celebrate an attempt at creating a “free market solution”, we are ignoring some very important questions with dire implications. (The same kind of thinking that gave us the ACA)

    1. What do we do with the kids whose families cannot afford the costs of whatever the voucher doesn’t cover? (That will happen.)

      Charity. Also, there will still be public schools.

      What do we do with areas in which there isn’t a viable private alternative? (There are plenty)

      Well, it may not happen overnight, but the vouchers create an incentive to create alternatives. Also, there will still be public schools.

      What happens if a huge influx of people start using the vouchers and new taxes need to be made, or existing taxes increased?

      Lay off the administrators and teachers who are no longer needed. The voucher programs I’ve seen don’t give as much as the department’s spending per pupil. So, the district will have fewer students to teach but more money to spend on each of them. They won’t need as many staffers if they don’t have as many students, though.

      1. Yep at worst it is status quo.

      2. Yep at worst it is status quo.

    2. What do we do with areas in which there isn’t a viable private alternative? (There are plenty)

      See how many private alternatives spring up quickly when government doesn’t get in the way of their creation.

  35. There are people who understand education FAR better than Betsy DeVos does AND who support school choice. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    1. Can you name some? What would understanding public education entail here?

      1. Actually, a better question would be “Can you name some who are willing to be associated with the Trump Administration?”
        The problem isn’t a shortage of qualified people. The problem is that those people won’t touch this cat’s presidential term with a ten foot pole.

    2. Thank you for saying that the problem is her lack of knowledge and experience. Maybe if I give a lot of money to the New England Patriots, I will get a chance to play on the team.

  36. It is easy to win when you don’t have to play by the same rules. Private schools don’t have to follow all of the federal and state mandates for education.They get to pick and choose their students.

    Private schools usually don’t have:

    1) Students with severe emotional or behavioral disturbances;
    2) Students with physical disabilities that require a full-time nurse or special equipment just to be in the regular classroom;
    3) Parents who sue or threaten to sue because their kid doesn’t have special accommodations;
    4) Students who come to school that are so hungry that they pass out (not an exaggeration);
    5) Students that come to school right after being severely physically, mentally, or sexually abused;
    6) Disruptive and violent students that you can’t kick out because they have a “right to an education”;
    7) Students and parents with significant substance abuse issues;
    8) Multiple standardized tests every school year;
    9) Students that by law require special services: OT, PT, speech, counseling, etc;
    10) Students that require 1:1 tutors because they have IEP’s;
    11) Students who are homeless, have no heat or running water;

    Just to name a few…

    1. What a load of whiney horsepucks.

      Private schools frequently do have students with severe emotional or behavioral disturbances. My private school took in one kid who’d been kicked out of the public school across the street for aggravated assault.

      Very, very, very damned few students require a full-time nurse or special equipment just to be in the regular classroom. Silly. Do you think that the rest of us have never been in a school?

      Parents who sue or threaten to sue because their kid doesn’t have special accommodations? Well, the parents wouldn’t have to sue if they could move their kids to schools that actually responded to them.

      Students who come to school that are so hungry that they pass out (not an exaggeration). It is an exaggeration. You might have seen it once or twice but public schools are awash in funding for school lunches, breakfasts, teachers’ aides, etc. If you want school breakfasts to follow the kids, I am all in favor.

      My guess is that all schools see some students who are the victims of abuse. Is this a reason to deny them a quality education?

      If you could kick disruptive students out, their behavior would doubtless improve.

      The rest of your bleating is equally silly. No one says that students don’t have problems or that school choice will fix all problems. But it will provide choice and that competition will improve everyone’s education.

    2. If you think that charters/private schools don’t have to deal with these issues, then you probably don’t know a lot about them. Especially in charter/lottery systems, they have no choice but to take every child who wins the slot in the lottery. There’s no picking and choosing at all. Your population is identical to the general public school population. Yet somehow, even so, the kids with problems of whatever sort still do better than those who are stuck with the public schools.

      Now, not every private/charter school is going to be top of the line. But at least if a private school isn’t doing their job right they get put out of business instead of continuing to be propped up and yet problems ignored as they are in the public schools.

    3. Parents having fewer choices isn’t the solution to any of the problems on that list.

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  38. A lefty here:
    Another complaint I hear is what about students in poor rural areas? How is the voucher system going to work for them? Also, can private schools reject any students with this system? This could led to more segregation.
    Another possible problem is school accountability. If we move to an private system how are we measuring educational growth?

    1. These are huge questions that need to be addressed. Will private schools have to provide busing, lunches and all of the other services?

      I don’t want my tax dollars going to religious zealots so they can have their kids learn more about creationism. That is not science.

      1. First, DeVos will need to learn what educational growth means. I don’t know if I would want a job that would make me feel dumb every day.

  39. I’m beyond delighted that a school choice advocate who has spent years (and millions) striving to better educational choices for disadvantaged children will serve.

    Competition works – and for too long the public school system has been a Petri dish of cronyism in support of adults, not the children they were formed to serve.

    We’re not educating for the factory anymore, either. The system is a failure and in desperate need of reform.

    Now, if Betsy can only hire Michele Rhee as a second in command…

  40. For deacedes the Public School monopolists have been screaming that on change or another would “destroy the Public School System”. It’s past time we started asking them, “And this is a problem, how, exactly?”

  41. For deacedes the Public School monopolists have been screaming that on change or another would “destroy the Public School System”. It’s past time we started asking them, “And this is a problem, how, exactly?”

    1. Sorry about the double post. My finger stuttered.

  42. “… the conversation surrounding the DeVos nomination is everything that’s wrong with Washington.”

    And that would be the conversation from Democrats who are dead set against school choice, in spite of overwhelming public support for it, especially from minorities. Rather than accepting what is clearly better and wanted, they seek reasons they wouldn’t, and haven’t used against most political appointees rather than being honest that it threatens their campaign funds from teacher’s unions who don’t have any competition thanks to a monopoly government force protects.

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  46. Only the progressive socialists know what’s best for your and your children. They’re pro choice, they choose what’s best for you, a mere dunce, and you must comply.

  47. Good article (sometimes I read stuff on Reason that doesn’t seem ‘reasonable’, but this article seems pretty good).
    I’m sick and tired of unions, especially when they have too much power. How many articles have I read over the past decade showing the unions couldn’t give two craps about the kids – it’s about what’s in it for themselves. Ok it sounds obvious, but when my tax dollars are being sunk into a schooling system, I expect that the people my tax dollars are hiring to educate my kids … are actually educating my kids. So, politics should have no place in school whatsoever.
    Teach my kids math, English, geography, chemistry, physics, music, literature, whatever. But .. keep your damn politics to yourself. I don’t want my kids indoctrinated by some progressive wing nut who just has to push his/her gay, lesbian, transgender, women’s lib, climate change, white privilege, micro-aggression, or whatever other stupid thing the progressives have come up with over the years. You want to teach your own kids those values – BE MY GUEST but don’t indoctrinate my kids or use my dollars for it.

  48. More than anything DeVos is simply a religious fanatic wanting to roll back thinking she doesn’t see consistent with her beliefs. No different than the leaders in rag head countries.

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