Reason Roundup

Federal Appeals Court Upholds College Degree Requirement for Child Care Staff

Plus: how voters respond to vague criticism, U.S. lawmakers still at war with TikTok, and more...


A federal court has allowed a burdensome licensing requirement for child care workers to stand. In 2016, D.C.'s Office of the State Superintendent of Education passed a rule requiring all child care professionals to have a college degree. The rule—which applies to staff at day care centers and at some home-based child care operations—says workers must have at least an associate degree in a field related to early childhood education and that workers who already have a college degree in some other subject must complete early child education courses.

The education requirement was supposed to take effect in 2020, but has been postponed in part because of a lawsuit filed by two D.C. child care workers—Altagracia Sanchez and Dale Sorcher—and one parent, Jill Homan. Sanchez is an immigrant from the Dominican Republican who is licensed to watch children in her home and has a law degree from a school in her home country but no U.S. college degree. Sorcher teaches children ages zero to three at a child development center and has multiple college degrees but none in early childhood education. Sanchez, Sorcher, and Homan are represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ).

A U.S. district court dismissed the suit, and IJ appealed. Now the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has affirmed the judgment of the lower court.

In one perplexing part of the decision, the judges defend the associate degree requirement—which compels people to take a variety of classes unrelated to education or children—by noting that "even if some elective courses might have limited relevance to aspiring childcare workers…a variety of courses outside the early-childhood major, from math and English to art and history, could be beneficial to someone tasked with the educational development of toddlers—as any adult who has been flummoxed by a two-year-old repeatedly asking 'why' can attest."

"If the government can force you to take college classes in anything a two-year-old might ask about before you can take care of toddlers for a living, the government can do just about anything," said IJ attorney Bob McNamara in a press release. "The question for D.C. regulators—and for D.C. parents—is why in the world they would want to."

The ruling could put longtime child care professionals out of work and drive up child care prices in a city where they're already the highest in the country. It also threatens to turn a lot of home-based child care providers into outlaws.

"Today's ruling clears the way for D.C. officials to go forward with their initial plan to throw countless loving, experienced childcare providers out of work because they don't have the right piece of paper to change a child's diapers," said IJ attorney Renée Flaherty in the group's press release.

The court's decision may also encourage other cities or states considering a rule like D.C.'s. As the court notes, D.C. "issued its regulations in part based on a report from the National Academies recommending a bachelor's degree requirement for all educators of children ages zero to eight."


A new paper looks at how voters can be persuaded—and challenges some conventional wisdom about campaigning. Study co-author David Broockman details the findings in this Twitter thread:

One thing Broockman and co-author Joshua L. Kalla tested was the effect of vague critiques versus informational statements.

"Vague statements were largely from real campaigns—broadside attacks that aren't specific and substantiated. An incredible amount of campaign attacks are super vague," tweeted Broockman. They tested this against more informational messages, which many in politics believe to be inferior at persuasion.

But while conventional wisdom says facts don't change minds, "that's not what we find," Broockman wrote. "More specific & factual treatments were much more effective!"


U.S. lawmakers are still at war with TikTok. The exceedingly popular video app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, was a major target of President Donald Trump's ire. And "while the app appeared to fade as a political flashpoint after Mr. Trump left office last year, lawmakers and government officials have privately grown frustrated over the Biden administration's lack of progress in policing TikTok," The New York Times reports.

The concern—which has never made much sense—is that TikTok user data will be leaked to the Chinese government for some sort of nefarious purpose. This fear is part of larger paranoia around Americans using foreign apps. More from the Times:

With more than one billion users, TikTok has become a prime engine for cultural phenomena, like the scores of young people who posted last month about dressing in suits to see the latest "Minions" movie. Today, 67 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds in the United States use the app, according to a report last week from the Pew Research Center….

The White House may be preparing to act soon on broader policy around apps that could expose data to foreign adversaries. Earlier this year, it circulated a draft of an executive order that would give the government more power to intercede in cases where data is at risk of being exposed to an adversary. The Biden administration is also expected to issue guidance soon for a committee that vets transactions involving foreign companies, telling it to be especially sensitive to cases that could expose Americans' data to other governments. It is also considering ways to review whole classes of potentially risky deals, rather than approaching them on an individual basis.


• Less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked Beijing's anger by visiting Taiwan, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers is now visiting the country. Between these visits and proposed pro-Taiwan legislation, Congress keeps making "dramatic gestures without considering the negative consequences for other US interests," Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, told Bloomberg News. Bloomberg notes that "China responded to Pelosi's trip by firing 11 missiles in to the seas around Taiwan, sanctioning the speaker and suspending a series of military and climate talks" with the U.S.

California lawmakers have sabotaged a bill to decriminalize psychedelics. "The legislation on Thursday passed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee," reports the Los Angeles Times, "but was amended to become only a study of the decriminalization proposal."

• A man crashed his car into a U.S. Capitol security barricade early Sunday morning, then fired several shots in the air before shooting himself. The man's motive is still unclear.

• Former Louisville detective Kelly Goodlett—accused of falsifying the search warrant used to justify the 2020 raid on Breonna Taylor's house and then filing a false report to cover her tracks—is expected to plead guilty to federal charges.

• Author Salman Rushdie is doing better after being stabbed before a lecture in upstate New York. Rushdie "was taken off a ventilator and able to talk," the Associated Press reported yesterday.

• Legislation efforts from Students for Life of America and the National Right to Life Committee "illustrate how the antiabortion battlefront now reaches beyond traditional bills seeking criminal penalties for doctors who provide surgical abortions in hospitals or clinics, instead targeting organizations that assist women with mail-order abortion prescriptions and safety protocols for self-managed abortions," writes Kimberly Kindy at The Washington Post.