Back in 2004, a majority Republican Congress, under a Republican president, George W. Bush, established the DC Opportunity Scholarship program, specifically targeting underprivileged minority youth.
The voucher program was successful by every measure. The children not only outperformed traditionally schooled minority children, but traditionally schooled non-minority children.
One would think that the first black president, aware of these statistics, would keep such a program alive. After all, these are the very children, in speech after speech, Barack Obama claimed he wanted better outcomes for.
Yet it was under President Barack Obama that this innovative voucher program got the kibosh — not that special interest groups like teacher’s unions had anything to do with it, right? *wink*
But, in the most stunning case of irony, the president’s daughters attended the chi-chi Sidwell Friends School. At the time, tuition per child was close to $25,000 per year…times two girls! And, that was just for the lower school. The tuition was higher for the upper grades.
Fast forward to 2017, and things haven’t changed much.
Betsy DeVos was narrowly confirmed as Secretary of Education. In fact, it took an historic tie-breaking vote by the vice-president to do so.
Ms. DeVos was vilified as being wholly unqualified for the job. This is interesting despite decades working with charter programs and other innovative school choice efforts. But, the narrative is what it is: unqualified.
But, just as then, so we see now: most of those decrying Ms. DeVos send their children to pricey private schools.
As reported by the Daily Caller:
At least seven of the 46 Senate Democrats who voted against Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s newly-minted education secretary, currently send or once sent their own children or grandchildren to expensive private schools.
DeVos, a long-time school choice advocate from Michigan, was the architect of Detroit’s school charter system and formerly led the Alliance for School Choice advocacy group. She headed the American Federation for Children — which backs school choice for poor and underprivileged families — when Trump nominated her.
It’s a stunning game of “rules for thee, but not for me…” using the most precious capital our nation has: our children.
The article goes on to (rightly) state:
Trump has called school choice “the civil rights issue of our time,” especially for African-American children, who are unequally stuck in some of America’s worst public schools.
School systems in overwhelmingly Democrat-ruled strongholds — Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Baltimore — are failing…and have been failing for decades. Despite billions thrown at them, despite “the nine most terrifying words, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help…’” Despite everything, our children are increasingly left out of being able to compete in the global marketplace.
Then, along comes a woman who believes in school choice. Who believes parents should have a voice. A woman, oddly enough, who’s receiving tacit praise from the tech community – because they know charter schools and other alt-ed programs are STEM and STEAM incubators.
Like all the silly protests against a president only in office barely a month, let’s hold off on judging Ms. DeVos until we can see if her approach works to rescue a system on life support.
And, for those legislators who opposed her, but send their kids to “alternative” schools (read: private schools), you of all people should understand the innovation that occurs, and clearly you understand the issues public schools have!
Let’s all work to put the needs of children and families first! Make education great again!
[Note: This post was written by Marie Stroughter. Follow her on Twitter @MarieStroughter]