The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education →
Look at that headline. To the left, wealthy + right-wing + religious = evil! It’s important to get the ad hominems in early.
The conservative policy institutes founded beginning in the 1970s get hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy families and foundations to develop and promote free market fundamentalism. More specifically, their goals include privatizing social security, reducing government regulations, thwarting environmental policy, dismantling unions — and eliminating public schools.
What of the government agencies that extract billions of dollars - by force! - to develop and promote redistributive fundamentalism? More specifically, their goals include socialized entitlements, handouts to “green” corporations, eliminating the individual through enshrining of unions - and one-size-fits-all, no-choice state indoctrination?
Whatever they may say about giving poor students a leg up, their real priority is nothing short of the total dismantling of our public educational institutions, and they’ve admitted as much.
Not only are those two concepts (“giving poor students a leg up” and “dismantling… public education institutions”) not mutually exclusive, history has shown that the less competition involved in and more unearned money dropped into public education, the less successful and prepared the students become (copious links below).
Cato Institute founder Ed Crane and other conservative think tank leaders have signed the Public Proclamation to Separate School and State, which reads in part that signing on, “Announces to the world your commitment to end involvement by local, state, and federal government from education.”
But Americans don’t want their schools dismantled.
Let’s read those last two sentences again. This is classic leftist deflection/red herring, an often-used tactic that employs a failure in logic: the argument “end involvement by… government in education” is deftly changed to “schools dismantled.” Of course, one does not at all mean the other, but this is the crux of how statists win support.
You aren’t against teachers’ unions or state-sanctioned curriculums or no choice in what school your child can attend, you are against the students. You aren’t against theft for an ostensibly good cause, you are against [the children, the poor, the environment, minorities, single mothers, or other group or cause that few people are actually against].
So privatization advocates have recognized that it’s not politically viable to openly push for full privatization and have resigned themselves to incrementally dismantling public school systems. The think tanks’ weapon of choice is school vouchers.
I do not necessarily disagree with this, but it is because of the aforementioned dishonest propaganda that it has become difficult to have people understand that “separating school and state” will actually improve education.
Vouchers are funded with public school dollars but are used to pay for students to attend private and parochial (religious-affiliated) schools.
Religion! Voluntary association! Ahhh!
The idea was introduced in the 1950s by the high priest of free-market fundamentalism, Milton Friedman, who also made the real goal of the voucher movement clear: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.”
How do you make Milton Friedman scarier? Call him a priest.
And while the voucher system is absolutely a transitionary step, why is that - in and of itself - devious? Isn’t everything the left does out of the Cloward-Piven playbook meant to function as transitionary steps toward the goal of democratic-communism? Didn’t Obama’s close advisor and Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (aka Regulatory Czar) Cass Sunstein write a book called Nudge that talks about methods of influencing people, primarily through public policy, by nudging them and inching them toward making the choices that those who know better (the state and its favored corporations) would like them to make?
The difference between this and the DeVos family is that (1) donations are voluntary while taxes are not and (2) their “nudge” is toward a more voluntary society while the left pushes for state aggression.
I want a complete end in state involvement in education. I also want to end state social security (among other things). But to eliminate them outright and immediately is logistically inexpedient. There is no fraud in employing steps to achieve a goal, particularly when the steps and goal lead to a more cooperative, non-aggressive, voluntary society.
Jumping out a window may get you to the ground floor more quickly, but sometimes it’s best to take the stairs (though maybe two or three steps at a time).
The quote is in a 1995 Cato Institute briefing paper titled “Public Schools: Make Them Private.”
Joseph Bast, president of Heartland Institute, stated in 1997, “Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.” Bast added, “Government schools will diminish in enrollment and thus in number as parents shift their loyalty and vouchers to superior-performing private schools.”
But Bast’s lofty goals have not panned out. That’s because, quite simply, voucher programs do not work.
The longest running voucher program in the country is the 20-year-old Milwaukee School Choice Program. Standardized testing shows that the voucher students in private schools perform below the level of Milwaukee’s public school students, and even when socioeconomic status is factored in, the voucher students still score at or below the level of the students who remain in Milwaukee’s public schools. Cleveland’s voucher program has produced similar results. Private schools in the voucher program range from excellent to very poor. In some, less than 20 percent of students reach basic proficiency levels in math and reading.
Just like having a gold standard would be far superior to the fiat currency of Federal Reserve banking but still inferior to free banking, so is a voucher system superior to our current geographical monopoly state-system but inferior to government out of schooling altogether.
The failure of public education should not be in question.
Using a sample size of 2,000 years, it has been shown that “the freest, most market-like education systems consistently outperform … state monopolies.” Indeed, standards were higher and more local a century ago. You can throw money at state schooling - as we have done - and still never find that it is enough. In the last forty years, public education employment has risen ten times faster than enrollment. In fact, while state spending in education has more than tripled since 1970, performance has either remained stagnant or gotten worse. Indiscriminately throwing money at education has only made things worse. The lack of competition naturally breeds complacency and corruption. In public education, bad teachers are protected by their union and the bureaucracy of government - and unpunished bad teachers demoralize the good teachers. It should come as no surprise that high levels of unionization in government creates greater difficulty in efficiently managing finances and other aspects of their operations. This public school nightmare only hurts students as its destruction of individualism and internal discipline is inherently anti-educational.
I’ve previously explained that a free market in education is “a win for students, a win for parents, a win for taxpayers, a win for the poor, a win for liberty, a win for good teachers and administrators, a win for society. The only losers are inept/harmful teachers and administrators, bureaucrats, and unions (aka the bad guys).”
And while vouchers are not themselves the answer to providing the education our children deserve, it’s a step in the right direction. And in places where voucher programs have been nurtured - instead of cut-off at the knees by unions and their cronies - they have seen great success. But here’s the rub: if a school is not succeeding, the parents can take their kids elsewhere. When there is no guarantee of income, when you must please students and parents with a safe, healthy, nurturing learning environment in order to receive any funds, then there is incentive to not be complacent.
Most Americans do not want their tax dollars to fund private and sectarian schools.
Right. Most people don’t want to fund things they don’t agree with - but that’s exactly what government does. This argument cuts both ways. Eliminate tax money going toward schooling and you eliminate this problem across the board.
As I’ve previously mentioned: “Completely private education means that if one set of parents wants their children to learn a little bit of everything like they do now, they can. But if enough parents would prefer their children to learn about environmental accountability and social justice, the market will fill that demand (though not where I’d send my children). If another set wants to their children to be taught strictly from the Bible, done. If some children are better at math or creative writing or computer programming, let them go to a specialty school. Some children are just not built for typical all-encompassing curriculum, so let them learn the basics that could lead to a trade; instead of promoting the cycle of failure that leads kids to turn to crime since their exposure to ‘responsible society’ has been a fruitless source of frustration.”
Since 1966, 24 of 25 voucher initiatives have been defeated by voters, most by huge margins.
And by “voters,” you mean “teachers’ unions.” Their salaries are a concentrated benefit to them while it’s a dispersed cost to everyone else, which means they have more incentive to vote than the average taxpayer. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the left’s red herrings have been so successful at duping a populace who has “educated” by that public school system to fail at logic.
Nevertheless, the pro-privatization battle continues, organized by an array of 527s, 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and political action committees. At the helm of this interconnected network is Betsy DeVos, the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement.
I know nothing about the DeVos family, but if this author wants to talk about PAC’s, non-profits, and special interests - her side is not short of them. In fact, public sector unions are one of the biggest special interest groups in the country, and 91% of their contributions go to Democrats (in fact, of the top 50 special interest groups by industry, 42 give more money to Democrats than Republicans - and Republicans aren’t exactly noble when it comes to palm-greasing). Teachers are a super-special interest, with unparalleled sway over Democrats especially, and an incredible ability to get money out of taxpayers.
The above author’s preferred tactics may be to demonize opponents and employ red herrings, but the fact remains: liberty is always the answer, especially when state education is such a disaster.
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