School Choice

Donald Trump Supports School Choice. Here's Why You Should Too.

We're spending more than double what we used to spend per pupil with no improvement on tests for high school seniors.

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Nick Gillespie

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump did something good: For the second year in a row, he issued a proclamation supporting National School Choice Week, an annual event that promotes interest in and discussion of ways to bring more options to K-12 students and their parents. The full proclamation is after the jump, but here's a snippet:

Communities that provide academic options — traditional public, public charter, private, magnet, parochial, virtual, and homeschooling — empower parents and guardians to select the best educational fit for their children.

School choice helps alleviate common hindrances to success and creates the space necessary for students' aspirations to flourish. Families that participate in school choice programs are not the only ones who benefit from expanded educational options. Children in traditional public schools benefit as well. In fact, 29 of the top 31 empirical studies on the topic find that freedom of school choice improves the performance of nearby public schools.

I disagree with Donald Trump on many, probably most, issues. But he's absolutely correct in insisting that parents should have more choices on where to send their kids to school, curricula to choose from, and how to individualize learning. America is a post-industrial country and we no longer put up with standardized food, clothing, lifestyles, or housing. Why should something as fundamental as education—"Life in the United States starts with a 13-year mandatory minimum K-12," quips Earn.com's CEO Balaji Srinivasan—be as ossified and stratified as it is? Across the United States, per-pupil spending averages over $13,000, which is up from about $6,000 in 1970 (in constant dollars). I'd wager there is no other area in our lives where costs have skyrocketed by more than double while the underlying good or service has not radically improved or been completely superseded by something else.

Yet the most basic measure of outcome, scores on standardized tests for graduating seniors on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, has not improved:

NAEP
NAEP

So we're spending tons more money per student and yet getting the same basic result.

There are, of course, many ways to dispute this. Kids today are more disadvantaged (not true), schools are expected to do so much more (not really true, or, same thing, schools choose to prioritize all sorts of stuff over learning), teachers are underpaid compared to the past, so the current crop is simultaneously less good and unmotivated (not true, not true).

Beyond anything related to test scores, which are at best a bad proxy for knowledge and achievement, we might ask whether that $13,000 per K-12 student could be spent in ways that make learning more interesting for kids. The answer here is: Of course it can be. There's a reason why school choice—whether in terms of charters, vouchers, Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs), scholarship programs, and more—is growing and it's not because traditional residential-assignment schools are popular. As University of Arkansas researcher Jay P. Greene has put it, the move toward broadly defined school choice has "reached escape velocity" because parents and students are demanding the same sort of flexibility, personalization, engagement, and attention from education that we take for granted in all other parts of our lives.

Here is Trump's full proclamation:

All American children deserve the opportunity to achieve their dreams through hard work and personal integrity. Our Nation's education policies must support them on their journeys, recognizing the diverse career goals and academic needs of students in communities across our country. During National School Choice Week, we honor those dedicated educators, administrators, and State and local lawmakers, who promote student-focused academic options for all families, as we increase educational freedom for all Americans.

The United States is one of the most educated countries in the world. Almost 90 percent of American adults attain a high school diploma or GED. But our students deserve more than just a paper diploma. Indeed, they deserve access to an education that provides the tools needed to succeed in our ever-evolving world. To maintain our global leadership and strengthen our modern economy, America's education system must prepare students for the unforeseen challenges of the future. Communities that provide academic options — traditional public, public charter, private, magnet, parochial, virtual, and homeschooling — empower parents and guardians to select the best educational fit for their children.

School choice helps alleviate common hindrances to success and creates the space necessary for students' aspirations to flourish. Families that participate in school choice programs are not the only ones who benefit from expanded educational options. Children in traditional public schools benefit as well. In fact, 29 of the top 31 empirical studies on the topic find that freedom of school choice improves the performance of nearby public schools.

My Administration is refocusing education policy on students. We are committed to empowering those most affected by school choice decisions and best suited to direct taxpayer resources, including States, local school boards, and families. As part of my steadfast commitment to invest in America's students, I signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December. One of the bill's provisions includes an expansion of 529 education savings plans so that their funds can be allocated tax-free to K-12 public, private, and religious educational expenses. By giving parents more control over their children's education, we are making strides toward a future of unprecedented educational attainment and freedom of choice. Under the leadership of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, we will continue to advance school choice so that every child in America has access to the tools best suited to enabling them to achieve the American Dream.

During National School Choice Week, I encourage parents to explore innovative educational alternatives, and I challenge students to dream big and work hard for the futures they deserve. I also urge State and Federal lawmakers to embrace school choice and enact policies that empower families and strengthen communities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 21 to January 27, 2018, as National School Choice Week.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Reason is a proud media partner of National School Choice Week, an annual event promoting the ability of parents and students to have greater options in K-12 education. Go here to get more information about events and data about how increasing school choice—charters, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and more—is one of the best ways to improve education for all Americans. For a constantly updated list of stories about school choice, go to Reason's archive page.

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92 responses to “Donald Trump Supports School Choice. Here's Why You Should Too.

  1. Ixnay on the OnaldDay UpTray upportsay…this is not how you win friends and influence people. What’s Beyonce’s position?

    1. I need Ja Rule to make sense of this. Where is Ja?

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    3. Was this cleared with Shitma? Are you SURE there isn’t some hidden agenda against people who sneak into the country and sign up for the dole? Surely Shitma is looking into this even as we speak.

    4. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

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  2. I don’t think Trump is getting the teachers union endorsement in 2020.

    1. I think that it is very good news for me that Donald Trump involves the educational process!
      I think that it will be better if he will involve on companies that help students cope with their homework writing tasks like speech writing task! Because there is a good company about which you can “read more” and there are also a lot of companies that are bad and proposes very bad services for students!

  3. Unionized public schools is a religion to the left. My prog roomate hates all form of school choice and even denies there are bad schools, etc. Granted we grew up in a nice area with good schools so I imagine he’s never been to an east side san jose school…

    The wealthier suburbs don’t need this; I have family down in San Marcos and their schools are incredible. No problems with the public school quality so you don’t need competition. But many of the people moved to that area just for the schools and will move out when their kids graduate, other people don’t have that chance

  4. Trump’s getting credit from Reason…Trump’s getting credit from Reason…

    1. I’m heading to Hell for an ice skating session.

    2. Reason is a libertarian new site.
      Privatizing everything is a standard libertarian position.
      [Insert any name here] wants to privatize [insert anything not privatized here] is always going to get approval from libertarians.

  5. teachers are underpaid compared to the past

    LOL someone’s pants are on fire for that whopper

    All of these programs are fancy variations on a simple theme: restricting or eliminating the power of teachers unions. They have managed to take care of their pay quite nicely – I mean, who’s gonna stop them?

    1. Yeah, the genesis of the idea that public school teachers are generally underpaid is teachers union public relations, and the myth has rooted.

      1. Everyone is underpaid. Just ask them.

    2. I general where student performance is the lowest, teacher’s pay will usually be lower in that area of the country. Poor people cannot support a school system as well as upper class people can. That is why it is good to have a leveling out system of school resources.

      1. Actually, there are ‘incentive packages’ offered to teachers to accept assignment to ‘under performing’ schools. The teachers refer to these a ‘combat pay’.

      2. Hmm, does this explain Washington DC? Oh of course, they have WONDERFUL schools. They must, since they are among the highest paid.

        Seriously, numerous studies have shown no relationship between spending and educational outcomes. There is surely some connection at the extremes, but it is small enough to drown in the larger picture.

        1. If there is no relationship between spending and educational outcomes, just spend $0. Right?

    3. Not a whopper.

      According to the NCES, salaries have fallen 1.3% since 2000 on average across the country. 10% decrease in Indiana and 14.7 in North Carolina. But other states have increased, like 16% up in North Dakota and 4% in Nevada.

      There are other issues with the findings in the article that I’ll cover separately, but this isn’t as simple as you or the author try to make it out to be.

      NCES.ED.GOV

  6. teachers are underpaid compared to the past

    Ahh yes, the old insanely wealthy robber baron one-room schoolhouse teachers of yore…

    Or we can go even further into the past when parents were responsible for teaching their own children. How much did that pay again?

    1. Teacher pay will vary across the country. The city and suburbs pay well and rural areas usually have lower pay. You get what you pay for.

      If you are expecting low pay and high performance out of teachers, that won’t happen.

      1. Teacher lay isn’t really the problem. Look at all the shit junior high and high schools spend money on. So many activities that could be easily outsourced to the private sector with better results. Then the schools could spend less money and produce better educated graduates.

    2. You could train them to take care of you after you got to old to plow – – – – –

  7. “I disagree with Donald Trump on many, probably most, issues.”

    Don’t forget to add that caveat Nick, wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re a deplorable.

    Has it ever occurred to you Nick that maybe, just maybe, you would find yourself agreeing with Trump on more issues if you weren’t suffering from a debilitating case of TDS?

    1. Trump disagrees with himself three times before getting out of bed. Granted, he doens’t do that till noon.

      1. Billions in free publicity! Thanks Tony.

      2. Trump believes what he watches on Fox and Friends each morning.

        1. I hear they’ve taken to directly talking to him.

          Steve Doocey, the fate of the world is in your hands.

          Oh god.

          1. The guy even says good morning to Trump on occassion.

      3. Tony, why are you still Drano free? Your life has no value. So drink up.

    2. TDS becomes a meaningless term when applied to anyone who doesn’t like Donald Trump. I guess we all must have had ODS the previous 8 years.

  8. Commifornia has this great tool to see what BS regarding pay is coming out of that state.

    Diana Marie Kenney Teacher, 2016 salary: $92,400.00 total with benefits: $118,255.00
    TransparentCalifornia website for Alameda County schools administrators and teacher’s pay

    1. Median pay = Teacher – 185
      Alameda Unified, 2016 $55,109.00 reg $60,929.00 year $6,395.00 benefit $67,324.00 total

      1. Yup. Those substitute teachers really bring down the average don’t they?

        4 pages of teachers making under $50k with benefits and 10 pages of teachers making over $50k total.

        1. So you use the highest salary you could find, well outside of multiple standard deviations, to prove your point. Then you retreat to the “statistics lie” retort because using the mean is misleading?

          1. You’re the one attempting to be misleading. Also, go look at the money they waste on administrators. I have teacher friends down in the LA area that constantly come,win about the salary and perks packages those people get.

          2. The liar here Eric, is you.

            First consider only full time employees.

            Second, consider that teacher certification tests have been changed over the last 20 years to make it easier to become certified …. because too many of them were failing the test. (Reading at the 10th grade level after being certified is what improves education)

            This becomes REALLY obvious when you see the private schools starting to focus on getting “subject matter experts” (you know, a degree in History to teach History) and sponsoring them to get certified.

            Most of those public school teachers are OVERPAID and UNDER-QUALIFIED.

    2. Thanks for the link! Even in my rural neck of the woods, $75K+. Underpaid my ass!

      1. This website is gem to use against these types of pay arguments.

        The superintendent of that school district makes $280k with benefits. Members of Congress make $170k and they are way overpaid but at least they do manage an entire nation.

        1. If only they did in fact manage the nation — — —

    3. https://goo.gl/pc5qSv

      I grew up in this small rural school of Stockton Illinois. Wages are around half of what is in the cities and suburbs. In general rural schools are made of honest hard working families and children. The quality is high for the money, but it really has nothing to do with people not performing better over time. Teachers are also limited to the performance and interest of the children, and their parents. This varies all over the board in what people want out of their education.

  9. What if we innovated how schooling is done but kept right-wing ideologues and their billionaire sugar daddies out of the room?

    The idea of giving parents more choice in this matter is frightening. Some parents want to chain their kids to beds and teach them the earth is 3,000 years old. If we’re going to have a socially responsible and globally competitive citizenry, we have to have some measure of standardization.

    1. “The idea of giving individual citizens more choice in this matter is frightening. Some people want to sodomize their partners in bed and have same sex marriages. If we’re going to have a socially responsible and globally competitive citizenry, we have to have some measure of standardization.”

      See how that works?

      1. Are you referring to total moral and factual relativism? Yes I see how conservatives are on an ironic death march to implement these things across America.

        1. Are you referring to marxism? Yes I see how leftists are on an ironic death march to implement these things across America.

          1. But they’re not. You make yourself look like an idiot when you make such ridiculous claims.

            If you’re saying that a normal, fact-based education is equivalent to marxism, well then you’re part of the club I referred to, and you can go fuck yourself, you sadistic relativist.

            1. How long have you been teaching Tony?

              1. Tony is all for fucking the little boys, but not so keen on having to turn in even half a day’s work to eat the opportunity.

                1. You know those part time teachers who bring the average annual pay down? Well, Tony does that to average IQ.

      2. “The idea of giving individual citizens more choice in this matter is frightening. Some people want to practice the religion of their choice. If we’re going to have a socially responsible and globally competitive citizenry, we have to have some measure of standardization.”

        Hey, this is fun.

    2. The idea of giving parents more choice in this matter is frightening.

      Indeed. The only responsible option is to make every child a ward of the State immediately after birth. In fact, every adult should be made a ward of the State as well. It’s the only way to ensure they don’t make choices that Tony disapproves of.

      1. So whether a child is properly educated, or taught a bunch of horseshit or nothing at all, should be totally dependent on the luck of who their parents are? And then you’re going to tell them they get to compete in a capitalist system and that it’s a level playing field?

        1. Funny. Poor blacks, asians, and brown people tend to do great in the free market with good education without all that maxism.

          1. Look, idiot, Marxism is a dead ideology. The only places that even get close to practicing it are places like North Korea. America and the rest of the civilized world, even Scandinavia and even, increasingly, China, are all capitalist societies. It won. Take your win and stop bitching.

            1. But you and your treasonous pals are always trying to change that. Eh, ‘comrade’?

            2. Good to know that Marxism is a dead ideology. So how long is it going to take you to give up on the ideas behind it?

    3. Teachers, on the other hand, are the most pure-hearted and noble of beings. You can tell because they’re always complaining about how they’re not paid enough.

      1. Libertarians, who hump the legs of welfare-queen billionaires as their primary hobby, bitching that schoolteachers are paid too much is just a bit on the nose, don’t you think?

        1. I wonder why lefties want to keep “educator’s” scam going? You cannot brainwash a nation without your ideologues.

          1. Were you homeschooled perchance?

        2. The guy who defends corporate bailouts and green energy subsidies claims we’re the ones who support welfare for billionaires. Rich.

          1. Tony is nothing if not a huge hypocrite.

            1. I for one am glad Tony is here. I need something to look forward to, and I figure Tony’s IQ is going to break into double digits any time now. Who wants to miss that?

    4. How about we keep all those left-wing ideologues(ie, Marxians) and their own sugar daddies (eg, Soros, Bill Gates) out of the room?

      1. By that you mean normal people teaching history and science, right?

        1. Socialists killed 100M+ people last century. Capitalists raised billions out of poverty. Interesting which ones you side with.

          1. I side with the capitalists just like literally everyone else in the civilized world.

            1. Except Marxians, all the ones you love so much.

              1. ^^ This is why libertarians shouldn’t be at the education reform table.

            2. Tell me about how you feel in regards to healthcare and state control.

              1. You can’t have capitalism without a government, and since we’re going to have a government to set up the conditions for capitalism, why not have a few public services too?

                1. Ok Tony,

                  So I favor going with the shorter list.

                  Tell us what things you believe the government should not regulate, tax, or monitor at all.

                  chirp…..
                  chirp……
                  chirp

            3. LOL

              Well OK then!

              Pfft!!

      2. Hey, there ya go! Nothing like advocating for freedom of speech!

    5. You’re right. We can’t very well have parents teaching their children anything you don’t approve of. That would be disastrous.

  10. School choice (including home schooling) is one of those topics that I kind of hate.

    Because in a perfect world, I wouldn’t care. It’d be like “sounds great”.

    Unfortunately, the world we actually live in includes folks like that California couple that got arrested a few weeks back for mistreating (including starving and chaining to furniture) their thirteen kids. It includes sending vouchers to schools that teach creationism. It includes segregation, racism, bigotry and so-on.

    It’s a lot like the abortion debate, really. I’d be a lot more sympathetic to the “conservative” angle if it weren’t for the conservatives pushing it.

    So school choice? Great in theory. But I’m unwilling to sign-off on anything at-large, because there are so many bad actors involved.

    1. What’s wrong with creationism? What you think happened 6000 years ago has almost no effect on what happens today. If they wanted to teach 2+2=5, that would be a different issue, though even that would not prevent them from going into a field like ***** studies or some else as worthless.

      1. What’s wrong with creationism?
        In a church? Nothing.

        But we aren’t talking about “Church choice”, are we?

      2. Unless you form policy based on it.

      3. Creationism is the scientific version of 2 + 2 = apple.

        When kids learn evolution, they also learn the scientific method. If they think a deity created everything in 7 days and the dinosaurs co-existed with humans, they’re not going to be prepared for any sort of STEMM major in college.

    2. Unfortunately, the world we actually live in includes folks like that California couple that got arrested a few weeks back for mistreating (including starving and chaining to furniture) their thirteen kids. It includes sending vouchers to schools that teach creationism. It includes segregation, racism, bigotry and so-on.

      Your first example is a straight up pure case of child abuse that has no relevance whatsoever to people making their own educational choices for their kids.

      What you are basically saying is because a statistically insignificant minority of people might choose to send their kids to magic voodoo academy, the overwhelming majority of people should be forbidden from making choices themselves.

      In light of the fact that the current restrictive, politically powerful, and strongly resistant to change dominant education providers are chronically failing millions of kids, you might want to re-consider just who the bad actors are.

      1. What’s your evidence for “statistically insignificant?”

        And, to pick nits: people have school choice right now. They don’t *have* to send their kids to public school. They can send them to any other school they can afford or home school them.

    3. I guess that’s why so many people who go to Catholic or Orthodox Hebrew schools can’t get ahead in the world. Poor souls were taught creation (shudders) and now they’re locked out of higher education and prominent jobs.

      1. I don’t disagree with your overall point about education and choice, but the Catholic church does not teach Young Earth Creationism, and accepts evolution. YEC and evolution denial is generally what people object to. I don’t know enough about Orthodox Judaism to comment on them.

        1. the Catholic church does not teach Young Earth Creationism, and accepts evolution.

          Bullshit. The Catholic church’s idea of evolution is that the Bible is correct when it says God created man, andother creatures, and evolution (by decree) is not incompatible with it

  11. School choice pretty much misses the real problem imo. Schools have two very different types of costs. The basic capital/non-classroom costs of schools mostly benefit nearby land/homeowners whether they have kids or not. That notion dates back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Anyone who says that stuff is not a major driver of home prices is lying. It should be funded through some sort of flat land/location tax and land/homeowners should be the ones holding local authorities/boards accountable.

    Classroom stuff benefits kids and the community of parents (not individual parents) should be the ones making the main decisions re that stuff. Funding that piece is a bit tougher but some combo of fees/endowments or supplemental tax would probably suffice

    Schools can easily be multi-use facilities. A flat land tax would encourage denser housing (and hence lower taxes per person) in areas with great facilities. ‘Charter’/choice stuff shouldn’t require a completely separate school. That is merely a decision as to how classroom space is scheduled and who gets it. Curriculum doesn’t have to be a majoritarian cramdown – ‘great books’ can coexist with ‘creationism’ with ‘new math’ with ‘happygoldstarsforeveryone’ with ‘semi-homeschool’ stuff. And that sort of educational diversity within their own neighborhood and kids they play with would benefit kids a hell of a lot more than being treated as the property of their parents with tax vouchers that can only turn into cronyism.

  12. Nick Gillespie is Ajit Pai’s cock holster.

    That aside, he is rather selective on what he thinks government should do.

    If asked about gay marriage before it was deemed legal, he begs off saying “government should not be in the business of marriage.” But he knows that it is, and it only allowed heterosexuals to marry. By taking the stance he did, he was basically for status quo, after all, he wasn’t fighting to eliminate marriage from government.

    Result? He (and many “principled” libertarians got to oppose gay marriage with a non sequitur)

    And now, he wants to be a Drumpf cock sucker.

    No “government should not be in the business of education”

    Instead, he is saying “well, as long the government is controlling education, might as well let …”

    Fuck you Nick!

  13. There are, of course, many ways to dispute this. Kids today are more disadvantaged (not true), schools are expected to do so much more (not really true, or, same thing, schools choose to prioritize all sorts of stuff over learning), teachers are underpaid compared to the past, so the current crop is simultaneously less good and unmotivated (not true, not true).

    Let’s start with the obvious… he says “not true” a lot but doesn’t back that up with anything–on a site called “Reason” no less.

    Let’s start with teacher salaries. Since 2000, the average K-12 teacher salary has dropped 1.3% across the country. The rates vary widely by state, though, so you’ll see some states with healthy increases. Teachers are required to have college degrees and as they are the main “resource” in education, it’s good to compare their wage growth with other college graduates over the same period of time. The wage difference, on average, is 17%. Workers requiring similar educational levels have starting wages much higher (average teacher starting wage is $30,337. Average nurse is $45,570.)

    [cont]

    1. [cont 1]

      But enough of the statistics… let’s just look at good ‘ol logic. There is a massive teacher shortage in the US. Libertarian/economic theory says that if there’s a shortage, wages should go up and attract new entrants into the market. But average wages haven’t gone up since 2000. People who could be teachers are taking other, higher paying jobs. So the question of whether teachers make too much is already being answered by the market–they don’t make enough money to attract enough of them to fill all available positions. Forget year-over-year wage growth charts; the real story is entirely market based.

      If potential teachers are avoiding the field and selling their skills to different employers, it’s because being a teacher isn’t compensating them enough.

      1. [cont 2]

        Other reasons why this is a bad idea:

        1) It shifts tax dollars up from the poor and middle class to the rich. (This is because the rich would get their private schools subsidized by tax dollars which would be subtracted from the budgets of public schools.)

        2) It subsidizes churches with tax money. Imagine what conservatives will say when their tax dollars are being used to fund Muslim religious schools.

        3) Some religious schools have issues with things like science. How do you get a STEMM education at a school that can’t teach the scientific method because it conflicts with scripture? (re: Creationism) I hope parents won’t think their kid is going to get into a good college if their idea of biology is an old bearded guy ripping ribs out of men to magically create women.

        4) Schools in poor neighborhoods will have their budgets cut by the amount that now goes to subsidize private schools for the rich. What sort of “school choice” will those families have operating on a smaller budget per child and no personal income to add to it?

  14. I wounder if people will ever stop qualifying what they say when it agrees with Trump.

  15. Test scores are a function of two key variables: The quality of the stock of students (IQ is the best proxy for this), and the quality of the schools ($ per pupil is unfortunately the best proxy for this). The first variable is consistently getting worse (third world immigration), the second variable is consistently getting better (spending) so of course the test scores are flat.

    Only the worst fake libertarians like Nick don’t get this.

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