The Monopoly Must End

The phrase “No good deed goes unpunished” is attributed to Clare Boothe Luce, who was ambassador to Italy, a playwright and wife of Henry Luce, publisher of Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated.

It is a fitting testimonial to the efforts of our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.  Ms. DeVos as Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Education Committee explained, “She has been a leader in the movement for public charter schools, the most successful reform of public education during the last 30 years.”  She has devoted herself and her treasure to help low income children have more choices of better schools.

Nonetheless, the Senate Democrats put up a furious fight to deny President Trump his choice for Secretary of Education.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mrs. DeVos can now get on with work, but this episode shouldn’t pass without noting what it says about the modern Democrat Party.

Why is Betsy DeVos the one nominee Democrats go all out to defeat?  After all, education is not Treasury or Defense and it controls not much money.  The Journal’s answer is the cold-blooded reality of union power and money.  The teachers union and environmentalist are the most powerful forces in the Democrat Party today.  To keep this political machine going, they need to maintain their monopoly control over public education.

Mrs. DeVos, the Journal writes, is not a product of that monopoly system.  Instead, she looked at this system’s results, its failures, and lives doomed to underachievement, and has tried to change it by offering all parents the choice of charter schools and vouchers. Above all, she has exposed that unions and Democrats don’t really believe in their high-minded rhetoric about equal opportunity.  They believe in lifetime tenure and getting paid.

We saw that recently in Oklahoma when the State School Board voted unanimously to sponsor a new charter school in Seminole, after the local school board twice rejected their application.  One business owner told the State Board that he could not recruit new employees to Seminole.  He was told, “Why should I move to Seminole where the ACT average score is 19 versus where I am it is 25?”  This question and complaint can be found and heard across the state.  That is one of the reasons Oklahoma colleges and universities have 44,000 students attending, but not getting college credits.  They are in remediation classes, because they lack math and reading skills.

Norman Public Schools also in February rejected charter application of Le Monde International School, which was seeking to offer immersion programs in French and Spanish.  Norman Superintendent Joe Siano cited concerns about teacher certification, instructional design and curriculum, and budget and cash flow projections among the reasons for denying the revised application.  The Le Monde governing board plans to appeal the decision to the State Board of Education.

In 2012 then Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey said, “I cannot ever stand up and stand against a parent having options, because I benefited from my parents having options.”  He even scolded President Obama for not sending his girls to Washington, D.C., public schools.  “I got a governor in the statehouse, he does not send his kids to Trenton Public Schools,” said the mayor.  He ended with, “I am going to fight for the freedom and liberty and the choice and the options of my people.”  These words were spoken at a Conference of the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group chaired at the time by Mrs. DeVos.

All those claims went out the window on February 7 when Mr. Booker, now a U.S. senator, voted no on Mrs. DeVos’ cabinet nomination.

Getting rid of failing public schools should be our first priority.  We do this by giving all parents options that they never had only a few years ago.  This maybe an uphill battle, but it needs to be won.  Our children deserve much better from the education monopoly.