Today Donald J. Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (a billionaire who contributed to Trump’s campaign) has had her name sent to the full Senate Chamber for a vote. Two Republicans have announced that they will not vote for her. She is one vote away from not being confirmed. Of note is how my Senator, Jeff Flake stated he supports her by tweeting “you had me at school choice”. Well let’s examined what school choice is all about in hers and conservative thinking.
Our founders were students of The Enlightenment. As such they knew that for this republic to be governed by the People via her Representatives, the People needed to be educated. Thomas Jefferson himself advocated free education even through University. The majority of the founders agreed. What is interesting is that our current Department of Education wasn’t even in existence until 1980 under President Jimmy Carter. Prior to that it was each State’s responsibility to deal with educating the public. Due to problems with rural school districts in Red states funding education, this department helped defray the costs by infusing Federal funding for education. However, early in our existence each State held true to the notion of free education for the people, many including California offered free college education for her citizens. All of this was tax funded locally, but over time the Feds had to step in to assist and also even the playing field.
Towards the end of the 20th Century depending on the State, the funding of public education, curriculum and various extremist views began to impact how Public Schools were to be ran. As Governor of California, Ronald Reagan took offense that College students weren’t enthralled with him and saying the tax payers couldn’t afford it, eliminated tuition free college in California. Religious groups wanting to promote Christianity with the fallen children of the secular nation started to take control of Public School Boards to change the curriculum and insert misinformation and fables into the lesson plan. In short, they worked to indoctrinate children into their way of thinking.
Now we’ve always had private schools for the wealthy. As you know, especially at the time of school desegregation affluent parents who would take advantage of the Public schools began to make better use of Private Schools. They could afford it, but they weren’t happy with paying both local school board taxes and private school tuition. The solution was a diabolical plan called Vouchers.
Under the guise of “School Choice” a movement was created to divert tax collected revenues for Public Schools to fund Education Vouchers so “any parent can choose a private school for their children.” Sounds good. If it’s a private school then logically it must be better than the old dirty Public School and my kids would do so much better there. So voters were convinced to allow money to be syphoned away from Public Schools to fund the Voucher program. However, it hasn’t worked as promised. Of course this was the original plan.
This nation spends $550 billion on public and secondary education. On average $10,600 is spent on each student. The Federal government contributes around 12% of all direct expenditures for elementary and secondary schools. Because of the premise that these are Public Schools, funded by the taxpayers, as long as you are a local citizen, that education is “free.” However, there are those who want their children in Private Schools. On average, the tuition of a Private School is just over $11,000 per student. Whether it be $10.6K or $11K the cost of education is beyond the scope of families who are impoverished, part of the working poor, lower middle-class, even middle-class. So to educate their children, they only have Public Schools or home schooling (which is another rant for another time).
Well here’s the kicker, the average Voucher to get your kid into a private school is about $4,000. A good chunk of money but that doesn’t pay the yearly costs for either Private or Public Schools. So to use a voucher to get your kid into a Private School, a family must pony up on average another $7,000 per child per year. That is beyond the reasonable reach of most families in this nation.
Keep in mind, vouchers are funded by diverting monies meant for Public Schools. So the more Voucher created, the less money available to the Public School. Less money, the worse off the school is in every sense. Another thing to consider, under Federal Law, a Public school cannot turn away a student but Private and Charter Schools (which are private entities) can.
So vouchers created to facilitate School Choice only benefits the wealthiest among us by subsidizing their children at public expense while public schools go underfunded. Vouchers are a scam to milk the poor and middle-class to subsidize the wealthy, reverse Robin Hood.
Based on economics, there really is no School Choice unless you are wealthy. And one final note regarding vouchers, this is what Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to do with Medicare, subsidize the wealthy to buy private insurance while defunding the publicly funded Medicare program locking the poor and middle-class out.
Welcome to Trump’s American.