Today marks 100 days since Michigan billionaire and school voucher proponent Betsy DeVos took over the reins as President Donald J. Trump’s Secretary of Education. If there’s one thing she’s accomplished in that time, she’s demonstrated her perseverance in pushing for vouchers.
President Donald J. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may think private school voucher schemes are an education panacea, but past federal education officials – including those who worked for conservative administrations – are less optimistic.
“If you try something and it’s experimental, and the experiment doesn’t work, why would you want to do it again and again and again?” Diane Ravitch, who served as assistant secretary of education under former President George H.W. Bush, asked during a speech in Texas in late March. “That’s what we’re doing now with . . . vouchers.”
Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
Nearly 20 years ago, Betsy DeVos and her husband were the primary funders of an effort to strip the Michigan Constitution’s no-aid clause – the provision that ensures the government doesn’t funnel taxpayer dollars to religious institutions, including private religious schools. Their goal: remove the constitutional barrier to implementation of a private school voucher program.
President Donald J. Trump today visited a private Catholic school that benefits from Florida’s tuition tax credit program – a voucher scheme that diverts taxpayer dollars away from public schools.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes voucher programs, including tuition tax credits, because they funnel desperately needed funding away from public schools and into private, mostly religious schools that lack accountability and often perform no better – and sometimes worse – than their public counterparts.
President Donald J. Trump visited a Catholic school in Orlando today for what has been described as a “listening session” on “school choice.” In other words, a rally for private school vouchers.
Trump, kids in school uniforms, and claims about widespread success of a government program may make for good political theater. But, “alternative facts” and anecdotes are a terrible basis for policy. The truth is that vouchers masquerading as “school choice” are a failure.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been criticized for having no experience in public education, and now she is proving she doesn’t understand the history of the “school choice” schemes she so eagerly embraces.
President Donald J. Trump has named Religious Right favorite son Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a committee tasked with finding ways to deregulate higher education.
Falwell, president of the fundamentalist Liberty University his father founded in Virginia, was an early supporter of Trump’s presidency. Falwell previously said he was offered but declined the position of secretary of education, a job that instead went to school privatization proponent Betsy DeVos. The task force will work under the direction of the U.S. Department of Education.
Americans United joined a band of allies through the National Coalition for Public Education to push back against the private-school voucher schemes that are promoted during National School Choice Week.