By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
As everyone knows who has been following the hearings, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate 51-50 with Vice President Pence voting with the Republicans to break the tie. Many of the confirmation hearings have been problematic as the Democrats have slow walked the confirmation process, but the hearing for The Secretary of Education was particularly vehement. The Democratic donor base relies strongly upon the Teachers unions who funnel millions of dollars to the Democrats to protect their power base and union jobs. Unfortunately, the Teachers Unions have done a very poor job educating American children, particularly those students in poor minority neighborhoods.
Betsy DeVos stands for school choice and school choice in the form of private school vouchers and charters schools have done what public school have failed to do and that is educate. Daniel Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal why charters are so important in educating American children and the unions have fought against it with such fury:
The charter-school movement emerged first in Minnesota in 1991. Wisconsin passed the first school-choice legislation in 1989, authored by a Democratic black activist named Polly Williams. Some of us thought then that Polly Williams was the start of a new, bipartisan civil- rights movement. How naive we were.
The movement persisted. According to a 2016 study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, using state databases, these are the percentages of students now enrolled in public
charters only: In now-famous Flint, Mich.: 53%. Kansas City: 40%; Philadelphia: 32%; the District of Columbia: 45%; Detroit: 53%.
In Louisiana, which essentially abandoned its failed central-administration model after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans charters are at 92%. The steady migration of poor families to these alternatives is a historic saga of social transformation. It happened for two reasons: to escape public-school disorder and to give their kids a shot at learning.
This is one of greatest civil-rights stories since the mid-1960s. And the Democratic Party’s role in it? About zero. Other than, as in the past two weeks, resistance. In 2002, the Supreme Court, with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ’s deciding vote, ruled that Cleveland’s (still successful) school voucher program was constitutional.
In 2013, the Obama Justice Department sought an injunction against Louisiana’s voucher system, arguing the alternative schools were . . . too black. By this logic, children are wards of the state first and the free sons and daughters of their parents second. Let’s be clear. We are talking about the professional Democratic Party and their full-time adjuncts. Many Democrats, some as “wealthy” as Betsy DeVos, abandoned the party’s hard- line resistance and supported charters and choice.
America’s inner cities are the foundation of the Democratic Party. Now, its urban political arm, the teachers unions, is shrinking. And its moral foundation of black parents is drifting away. Hillary Clinton explicitly promised more of the status quo. They didn’t turn out for her. This relentless erosion of an unreformable party explains the rage over one woman, Betsy DeVos.
Some of the least attractive elements of this opposition reemerged, notably anti-Catholicism and anti-Christian bigotry. Stories cited as reason for opposition to Mrs. DeVos her support for “Christian schools.” It’s true. Those Christian and Catholic schools, supported by vouchers, have sent thousands of black and Hispanic kids on to college, the first in their families to make it that far.
Frederick Douglass, speaking in 1894 in Manassas, Va., said, “To deny education to any people is one of the greatest crimes against human nature.” That in 2016 this reality should be redefined in our politics as it was so clearly by the fight against Betsy DeVos is one for the history books.
With DeVos at the helm, American student hopefully see their learning and international standing improve. But don’t expect the Teacher’s unions to go quietly. They will fight reform to their last breath, and drag the Democrats with them.