Liberals, Conservatives Agree: Big Mistake for White House to Push Private School Choice
Having just sent a memo to the Democratic caucus Wednesday morning outlining a strategy to oppose the Trump administration’s plans to push private school choice, Sen. Patty Murray headed to the left-leaning Center for American Progress to further condemn the idea.
“Unfortunately, our system breaks down completely when it comes to public money going to private schools,” the Washington Democrat and ranking member of the Senate education committee said to a room of mostly like-minded liberals. “Without accountability and without transparency, too many students fall through the cracks and we fly blind without the information we need to make sure all students are succeeding.”
At the same moment, across town at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, a panel of conservative and libertarian education policy experts waxed on the very same private school choice proposal. And, like Murray, they also concluded – though for very different reasons – that the Trump administration should not be pushing such an agenda.
“This is something that would be a huge issue if the federal government gets involved,” said Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at Heritage.
Neal McCluskey, the director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, agreed: “I don’t think it’s something that we want.”
“The only thing that worries me about school choice is government intervention,” added Robert Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice.
So if Democrats don't support private school choice on the basis that the underlying education policy flies in the face of the principles of a public education system, and Republicans are hesitant to support private school choice because they don't believe it's an appropriate role for the federal government, then who does want the Trump administration to pursue that agenda?
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for one. The billionaire and her family have spent millions of dollars lobbying for private school choice policies in her home state of Michigan, and have been major players in the proliferation of charter schools and voucher programs that allow students to enroll in religious private schools in and around Detroit.
That DeVos would want to expand policies she’s familiar with and has experience with is not unusual. In fact, it’s exactly what former Education Secretary Arne Duncan did under the Obama administration by pushing an aggressive reform agenda that included expanding charter schools, evaluating and paying teachers based in part on test scores and fixing failing schools by shuttering them – all policies he experimented with as CEO of schools in Chicago and that were at the heart of the administration hallmark education Liberals, Conservatives Agree: Big Mistake for White House to Push Private School Choice | Education News | US News: