Fund students, not systems. - Corey DeAngelis
After the outcry from parents against radical gender ideology and critical race theory resulted in one of the most historically significant nationwide movements since the Tea Party movement, the Biden administration has added fuel to the fire by getting the Department of Justice involved in the matter.
Notwithstanding the fact that local law enforcement is already empowered to act against violent threats, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he will be sending FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officers to identify and prosecute threats connected with protests against public school officials.
As the battle lines harden, many wonder if there is a way to avoid the inevitable conflict.
I believe that the answer comes in two words: school choice. Ironically, this bipartisan solution is hindered by one of the Left’s largest special interest groups.
Breaking with my usual editorial format for the Red Pill Blog, I decided to interview one of the leading researchers and influencers for the school choice movement, Corey DeAngelis. Corey is the National Director of Research for the American Federation for Children.
The following has been edited for clarity:
JJ : What have we learned about school choice throughout the pandemic?
CD: The past 18 months have shown parents of all backgrounds that a one-size-fits-all system doesn’t work. According to a Real Clear Opinion Research Poll , there was a 10 percentage point jump in support for school choice nationwide from 64% in April 2020 to 74% in June 2021.
The battles about school reopenings, masking, and curriculum are all symptoms of a larger problem which is the one-size-fits-all government-run school system.
The solution is to have the money follow the child to the education providers that best align with their family's values and preferences.
JJ: There are few political issues with that much support. What motivates this embrace of school choice?
CD: While many Republicans supported school choice well before 2020, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, I discussed how a recent Echelon Insights poll found that 82% of Democrats would support allowing families to take their children's education dollars elsewhere if their public school did not mandate masks.
People may disagree on the reasons for school choice, but amid the divisions there is unity when it comes to giving parents educational options.
JJ: With so much support, why do we not see more states adopting school choice?
CD: Teachers unions: while a majority of constituents support school choice, Democratic politicians in particular face tremendous political pressure from teachers unions and as a result often vote against school choice policies.
That is not always the case, however. In a viral video, for example, Nebraska Democratic legislator Justin Wayne powerfully called out his colleagues' hypocrisy by challenging them to send their own kids to public schools.
JJ: Which states are leading the way on school choice?
CD: Florida has been leading the way when it comes empowering families with educational options for a while now, and the state continues to expand those opportunities.
Florida recently passed a bill which is the largest expansion of school choice in state history.
This legislation includes the purest form of funding students instead of systems: Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs).
This very robust policy framework is working for many families and the public schools have gotten a lot better at the same time.
University of Arkansas researchers found that increased school choice has been associated with an improvement on NAEP (Nation’s Report Card) scores in public schools.
In fact, 25 out of 27 rigorous studies on the topic find that private school choice competition leads to better outcomes in public schools.
Florida used to be in the middle of the pack and is now near the very top on NAEP after adjusting for student demographics. In addition to Florida, 17 other states have expanded programs to fund students instead of systems this year.
JJ: What is the strongest argument for school choice?
CD: We should fund students, not systems.
We already fund students directly with Pell Grants for higher education and with pre-K programs. We also fund people directly with food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers.
With all of these programs the money follows the decision of the family.
We should apply the same logic to K-12 education and fund students directly. School choice could also alleviate poverty because a great education is a ticket to upward social and economic mobility.
The most advantaged families already have school choice.
They're more likely to have the resources to afford to live in neighborhoods that are assigned to the best "public" schools.
They're more likely to have the resources to afford to pay for private school tuition and fees.
Funding students directly allows more families to access educational alternatives. School choice is an equalizer.
Jonathan Jakubowski is the Author of a newly-released book that has gained national attention, "Bellwether Blues, A Conservative Awakening of the Millennial Soul." More information about Jonathan may be found here. Read Jonathan Jakubowski's Reports — More Here.
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