Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Economics, Education, Freedom, History, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags: Black Lives Matter, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, The Teachers' Unions
Oooops! Black Lives Matter just exposed their organization as entirely political, and not much interested in the lives of black children. Betsy DeVos, newly confirmed Secretary of Education, was blocked from attempting to enter the Jefferson Academy middle school in Washington DC by Black Lives Matter protesters blocking he way and heckling, reportedly organized by the Washington Teacher’s Union.
The Alliance For Educational Justice claimed, “Today, families, residents and community leaders joined to block U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from disrupting learning at Jefferson Academy.”
“Betsy DeVos has a track record of privatizing and undermining public schools that serve Black students for financial gain,” said Makia Green, an organizer with the Washington, DC chapter of Black Youth Project 100. “Today’s action made it clear: our community will do everything in our power to resist DeVos‘ destructive policies and her attacks on an entire generation of Black students.”
DeVos responded in a statement following the incident saying, ” I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”
The reason that Betsy DeVos was nominated to be Secretary of Education is that she has been a long time advocate for poor black children trapped in poor schools, and pushes for charter schools as the best answer to the need for parents to have a voice in their children’s education.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about “charter schools.” Charter schools are public schools. Some presume that because of the word “charter” that they are somehow private schools. Not so. Those who wish to start a charter must develop an educational plan to submit to the state, and when their plan is made public—gather enough interest to make a separate school viable. They may have more freedom from federal and state regulation than regular public schools.
A study reported in Forbes in 2014 showed evidence that charter high schools had 7-11% higher graduation rates than their public school peers, boosted college enrollment rates by 10-11 percent, were more apt to complete at least 3 years of post-secondary education, and charter school attendance was associated with an increase in maximum annual earnings between ages 23 and 35 years of age, about 12.7% higher than those who attended a traditional high school.
Different states have different rules. Charter schools usually operate on a smaller budget—but better ideas, teachers are often paid less (because they get to really teach—some teachers go for it) (a big part of the reason that teacher’s unions oppose charter schools and charter teachers are not necessarily members of the unions). Like much in American life, schools operate under far more rules than they used to. I’m not sure if all states even have charter schools. New Orleans has the highest percentage of students in charter schools, over 90%. Here are five facts about charters from the Reason Foundation, in simple graph form.
Here in Washington State, the state teacher’s union lobby has fought endlessly to ensure that all public funds are given only to traditional public schools. As the populous Seattle area is reliably Lefty, the Supreme Court broke with the precedent set by six other states that faced similar battles, ignored the vast amount of evidence that charter schools improve academic outcomes for students, ignored the over one million students currently on wait lists for admission to charter schools, and their parents who favor charters, and ruled that public funding of charter schools was unconstitutional. The legislature has found funding from Lottery revenue for charters, but the state should work to ensure that funding follows the children, not the teacher’s unions. A better education means so much to minority children trapped in failing schools that it is particularly interesting to see Black Lives Matter opposing charter schools and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
You have perhaps noticed that leftists seem to always appear in organized groups — Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the list goes on and on, but when you get down to what they actually advocate, it’s often just hard-left politics, not black lives, nor $15 an hour, nor economic equality.
A group of 160 black education leaders are fighting against the NAACP’s proposed stance against charter schools, which shows the diversity of views of charters.
An article from AEI last August tries to offer some clarity on the battles, showing that advocates of different positions are relying on different evidence, and doesn’t clarify anything at all.
More troubling is a report from the Minneapolis/St Paul Star Tribune on the trend for violence in the public schools, and the dangers that teachers face. School disciplinary policies have removed many consequences for bad behavior in response to liberal demands for an ideology of “equity.” In St. Paul schools in 2010-11, “15 percent of the district’s black students were suspended at least once — five times more than white students. This racial differential mirrors those in schools across the Twin Cities and throughout the nation…. St. Paul school leaders have assumed that differences in discipline rates are the result, not of higher rates of misconduct by black students, but of the racism of teachers and administrators, who are believed to unfairly target black students.” To eliminate statistical disparities, they abandoned meaningful penalties. I read a lot, but I haven’t seen much reporting on violence in schools—just enough to suggest that it is perhaps far more prevalent than is realized. Do read this whole article if you care about kids and education.
Betsy DeVos has long been a passionate advocate for poor black children facing failing schools, and suggests that more charters will help. It’s a big job and I certainly wish her well. Progressives believe that all things are better done by the federal government, with themselves in control of the government. Conservatives believe that there are few things that the federal government can do satisfactorily, and that most tasks should be devolved to the states, or to the closest government to the people who are affected by the tasks. That old “We the People” thing.
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