Tag Archives: School Choice

Which presidential candidate will help minorites get a better education in better schools?

One of the major issues affecting blacks and Hispanics in America is the issue of poor-performing public schools. Because the administrators and teachers are unionized, they are immune to criticism, discipline or termination for poor performance. And many of the administrators and teachers have no real-world experience at earning money in the private sector. Who will fix it?

Here’s Daily Wire reporting on Trump in his own words:

On Thursday, President Trump redeclared his commitment to enacting school choice, a conservative pitch most popular in the black American community, many of whom have grown weary of sending their children to government-funded public schools.

Speaking at the “Transition to Greatness” roundtable, the president called upon Congress to enact school choice now, hailing it as the great “civil rights issue of our time.”

“We are renewing our call on Congress to finally enact school choice now, school choice is a big deal, because access to education is the civil rights issue our time,” the president said. “I’ve heard that for the last, I would say year, it really is, it’s the civil rights issue of our time.”

President Trump elaborated on the benefits of school choice by forcing underperforming schools to better improve their methods.

“When you can have children go to a school where their parents want them to go, and it creates competition, and other schools fight harder, because all of a sudden they say, ‘Wow, we’re losing it, we have to fight hard,’” the president said. “It gets better in so many different ways, but there are groups of people against that. You have unions against it, you have others against it, and they’re not against it for the right reasons, they were against it for a lot of the wrong reasons.”

So basically, Trump wants schools to work more like companies in the private sector that are accountable to customers. When private sector companies compete, you get Amazon, Apple, Dell, Samsung, LG, etc. Competition gives you more choice, so you can find better quality for less money. Public schools don’t work like that, and children suffer as a result.

And note:

President Trump’s push for school choice at this turbulent moment in history is not coincidental, being that black American voters routinely have expressed support for it alongside criminal justice reform, which the president helped to enact with the First Step Act.

The Washington Times reports on more differences:

President Trump is pushing schools to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying parents want it, the children can handle it and the economy needs it.

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden says the teachers don’t want it, the children can spread the coronavirus and the country can’t stomach another surge of COVID-19 cases he fears would result.

[…]Beyond school choice, Mr. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have rescinded Obama administration rules on school discipline, racial disparities and gender identity, and have given states more flexibility in meeting federal mandates.

And here’s Biden:

Mr. Biden counters Mr. Trump’s parent-centered approach to education with a teacher-centered platform, promising the money will flow to public education instead.

Mr. Biden counters Mr. Trump’s parent-centered approach to education with a teacher-centered platform, promising the money will flow to public education instead.

He wants to triple federal spending on schools with significant low-income populations and require that much of that cover higher salaries for teachers. He also would increase the availability of student loan forgiveness for graduates who go on to work in education.

Mr. Biden’s campaign says he will hire up to 60,000 more psychologists for schools to help with what he warned is a mental health crisis.

His unity platform, reached with former opponent Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, opposes vouchers that support private schools and takes a dim view of public charter schools.

The Biden-Sanders plan would impose bureaucratic standards for diversity and discipline on charter schools, cut off money for those deemed underperforming and impose an outright ban on federal money for for-profit charter schools.

I don’t see the profit motive as a problem, as it is profits that causes people in the private sector to produce quality goods and services for their customers – or risk losing those customers to competitors who do a better job of pleasing customers.

You can see from this chart how well throwing money into a unionized monopoly has worked over time:

Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores
Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores

In public schools, administrators and teachers are not paid more or less based on pleasing their customers (parents) by achieving results (student performance).

Reason.com is a libertarian web site, interviewed Education Secretary Betsy Devos. I liked this:

You are someone who has advocated for more choice, more local decision making, in education. But then you were thrust into the role of national education official. It had to be tempting to use that position to really push local governments to implement more of the ideas that you have. But your idea is that there shouldn’t be some person in charge of telling everyone what to do. Do you ever feel this tension?

I do. The previous administration went exactly the opposite direction and overreached in multiple areas. Much of what I’ve had to do is come back and undo a lot of that. But at the same time, there are plenty of folks who’ve been critical of my not implementing all kinds of conservative policies that, in my view, would be desirable for students and their families. But I think my [approach] here has been one of restraint, and that I believe is ultimately a big accomplishment.

I view this department as one that probably never should have been stood up. I think there are ample arguments for it having gotten more in the way of students and their futures than actually being any kind of value-add.

Should the Department of Education be abolished—or gradually abolished, perhaps?

I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job. I think that states and local communities and, most importantly, the family has to be the epicenter of these decisions. The 40 years since this department has existed, there’s been over a trillion dollars spent to close the achievement gaps. They haven’t closed one little bit. They’ve only opened in multiple areas. So why would we continue to advocate for doing more of the same thing and expect something different?

Do you like having Betsy Devos in charge of education policy? I do. For me this is just another reason to support Trump for President.

Related posts

Trump makes his case to black voters in opinion-editorial that appeared EVERYWHERE

Trump had 4 years to build a record of achievements for blacks
Trump had 4 years to build a record of achievements for blacks

In this post, I want to hit the high points of the case for Trump as president for black voters. Black voters are incredibly important in this election, because we’ve lost a lot of white voters who are focused on abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, etc. Things that Trump can’t compete on. So let’s see some of the reasons why a black voter might pull the lever for Donald Trump.

I found Trump’s final address to black voters posted on the Dallas Weekly web site. I thought some of his points were interesting. Clearly, he thinks that he has done some things that out to get thoughtful blacks to give him another look.

As your President, I’ve done more for the Black community than Democrats like Joe Biden have done in 47 years, and we are going to do so much more. As part of our efforts, we’ve unveiled my second term agenda called the “Platinum Plan” for Black Economic Empowerment, to ensure even more Black Americans have the opportunity to succeed over the next four years.

The plan is built around the pillars of opportunity, security, prosperity and fairness. I’ve committed to adding 3 million new jobs for the Black community, creating 500,000 new Black-owned businesses and increasing access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 Billion to create an era of new prosperity and to finally close the wealth gap.

We are increasing access to capital and economic empowerment for the Black community as a way to build Black generational wealth.

[…]The unemployment and poverty rates for Black Americans hit record lows just before we were attacked by the China Virus. Wages are now growing faster than they have in over a decade, especially for blue-collar workers.

My Administration is fighting to stop illegal immigration, which hurts Black communities, protect school choice, giving parents more options to access better schools for their children, create new and high-paying jobs, and increase investment in low-income areas — these initiatives create unprecedented opportunities for long-forgotten communities across the country.

I was also honored to work with U.S. Senator Tim Scott to create the Opportunity Zones program established through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has already attracted $75 billion in new private investments and created 500,000 new jobs in struggling, underserved communities.

When it comes to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), it was my honor to be the first sitting President to invite all HBCU leaders to the White House, address the HBCU Week Conference and permanently fund these important schools through the FUTURE Act.

I am proud that we also passed landmark criminal justice reform to undo the damage of mass incarceration. This is helping people, who in many cases have served harsh sentences for non-violent crimes, to have a second chance at their American Dream. This is widely viewed as one of the greatest bipartisan victories in a long time, and a testament to what we can achieve together.

When there was increased violence and deaths in Democrat-controlled cities, we started Operation Legend, after young LeGend Taliferro and we are seeing results. When lawless criminals kept looting, burning and destroying Black businesses and communities, I said we needed peace, law and order in these same cities to keep communities, and families safe.

In Black communities across the nation, there’s been a reckoning to the reality that the Democrats have failed them for generations. D.C. Democrats are happy to leave urban communities mired with failing schools, no jobs and lost hope while wasting time and taxpayer money on baseless and partisan politics.

The truth is this: Democrats despise my America First agenda because it broke up their taxpayer-funded gravy train that enriched their friends and families, shipped jobs overseas, supported illegal immigrants and continued endless wars while leaving Black American families high and dry.

I will continue to work with any and all Americans who want to Make America Great Again by bringing back American jobs, improving our schools, building safer and more prosperous communities and reuniting families through meaningful justice reforms.

When I promised to stand for the forgotten men and women of this country—whether they live in Chicago or Charlotte, Detroit or Dubuque, or if they are black or white—I meant it. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In 2016, Trump got 8% of the black vote and 28% of the Hispanic vote. He needs to double those numbers in 2020, in order to guarantee a win over Biden.

The far-left The Hill reported on the polls:

Rasmussen’s most recent “National Daily Black Likely Voter” poll, which closed on Oct. 29, showed 31 percent of likely Black voters opting for Trump/Pence.

[…]And it’s not just Black men, NPR reports, “Many Latino men are supporting President Trump this election.” The story cites a recent New York Times/Siena College poll that shows that while Biden has a big lead among Hispanic women, he leads Trump by only eight points among Hispanic men.

I think this is interesting, because many white conservatives, including my neighbors and co-workers, look at my skin and think that they know how I will vote. They also think that I’m liberal about abortion, gay rights, gay marriage, religious liberty, divorce, etc. I don’t want them to think they know me because of my skin color.

Why is America so much more prosperous than other nations?

It occurred to me that young people are being taught in government-run schools that central planning of the economy by the federal government works better than allowing states to decide policy for themselves. Naturally, the students – lacking life experience and at the mercy of the unionized teacher’s grading pen – have no choice except to be indoctrinated. But what are the facts?

The genius of America is that the Founding Fathers allowed the federal government to only have power in certain areas of life. Other areas of policy were delegated to the states. This allows states to try different policies to see what works best, or even just what works best for them. Then the other states have the option to emulate that success, or continue doing what doesn’t work. States that do what works will see more success, with more businesses and people migrating to their states. States that persist in doing what doesn’t work will see business and taxpayers flee. That is the genius of America’s design.

Federalism encourages states to operate according to the “principle of subsidiarity”, which is an economic principle that states that problems are best solved at the lowest level possible (individual -> family -> church – > business -> community -> local government -> state government -> federal government). This is because the people at the lowest level have the most KNOWLEDGE about how to solve the problem.

Case study: right-to-work laws

Let’s look at an example – unions and right to work laws. Starting after world war 2, some states decided to pass right to work laws. These laws allowed workers to decide for themselves whether to join a union or not. Since workers had the choice about whether to join the union, the union had to care about the workers and advocate for them, instead of enriching themselves at the expense of the workers via corruption and thuggery.

Here is how different states adopted right to work laws at different times:

Map of states showing adoption of right-to-work laws
Map of states showing adoption of right-to-work laws

What happened in these states? Well job creating businesses started to move from forced-union-membership states to right-to-work states. Why? Because unions were stopping them from innovating. Companies would figure out new ways to improve productivity, such as using machines and computers. But the unions would step in and insist that the old ways were best. The unions wanted their union members to just be able to do the same job, e.g. – pulling a lever over and over, for the entire 35 years of their career. And the unions wanted their members to be paid like a software engineer or a doctor for pulling a lever over and over. The unions also wanted to make sure that underperforming workers could never be fired, or replaced. And so on. Companies realized that they couldn’t compete in a global market like this, so they got up and left for right-to-work states.

Here’s what happened next:

Rates of employment in forced union states vs right to work states
Rates of employment in forced union states vs right to work states

States with right-to-work laws never said that there couldn’t be unions, only that workers wouldn’t have to join a union to work. And in right-to-work states, not only did workers not join unions, they voted not to unionize at all. This resulted in a massive decline in private sector unions in America:

Decline in private sector union membership
Decline in private sector union membership

As a result of job creating businesses not being hampered by union corruption and thuggery, American businesses quickly outpaced their rivals in forced union membership states in productivity, as measured by GDP. They also outpaced the productivity per worker in other economically illiterate countries. Why? Because allowing companies to innovate meant that workers were using more machinery and computers to do their jobs. They learned new skills. Underperforming workers could be replaced with workers who were willing to grow and adapt. Non-union workers higher productivity allowed them to find other jobs if they were laid off.

Right to work states innovate, creating more skilled workers
Right to work states innovate, creating more skilled workers

The job security of the American worker comes from his improved worker productivity – not from the union. Not only did unemployment go down in right to work states (more jobs!) but salaries and benefits also increases, as companies had to compete with each other for workers. However, companies were ok with paying more for workers, because they would rather pay ONLY the workers who deserved it, rather than pay one rate for all union workers, regardless of performance.

This article from the far-left New York Times explains how slaries and benefits rise when job creators move to right-to-work states: Income Rises When Right-to-Work Laws Are Passed because job creators must offer workers a lot in order to get them to sign. Not just salaries and benefits, but realistic development plans to grow the workers skills, making them even more resistant to layoffs and economic downturns.

Quote:

While some persons may favor right-to-work laws largely on philosophical grounds (people should have the freedom to decide whether they want to belong to a union or not), the major reason I support such laws is that they seem to promote prosperity — specifically, higher incomes. Real personal income in the right-to-work states rose nearly twice as much as in other states from 1970 and 2013.

To be sure, most of that reflected higher population growth in right-to-work states — there was massive in-migration to these states from the states denying workers the right to not join a union. Yet even after correcting for population growth, income per person on average rose somewhat more in the right to work jurisdictions. Capital moves to right-to-work states with a more stable labor environment, and that increases labor demand and, ultimately, income and wages.

Although unions mostly died out in the private sector, the ones that remained actually functioned well as unions – focusing on their workers instead of enriching union bosses. They had to, because if they didn’t, then the workers would just opt out of them. The only places where unions still survive is in the public sector, i.e. – government. This is because government is (by law) a monopoly, where consumers have no choice except to accept the garbage that they are offered. They can’t go anywhere else for a lower price, or a better product, or a better service. Public sector unions are immune to innovation, because they lobby the government to prevent any improvement or accountability.

Here is an example of a public sector union’s effort to “help the customer”:

Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union
Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union

And here’s what those efforts to “help the customer” produced for the customer:

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970

They aren’t really helping the customer, are they? What they do is collect dues, enrich their union leaders, intimidate their opponents with threats and force, and then give money to secular left politicians to prevent their customers from opting out of a system that doesn’t produce higher quality and lower prices for the customer. The secular left politicians pass laws that prevent the customers (parents) from being able to get a better product (education for their children) for a lower price. We should abolish public sector unions in order to get the benefits for the customer that we see in the private sector.

Will paying teachers more money improve student performance?

Public school teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona are striking this spring, affecting hundreds of thousands of students. The teachers say that spending more money on education will help children learn more. There’s an excellent article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist that looks at whether increasing spending raises student performance. (H/T Vanessa)

Oklahoma teachers want a $10,000 raise, and Arizona teachers want a 20% increase in base pay. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get anything near that for my annual raise.

Educational bureacracy

Will raising taxes on taxpayers in order to spend more on education improve student performance? Joy says we can look at the past in order to understand whether spending more money gets results.

She writes:

Research has also long and conclusively shown that school spending hikes usually don’t go to teachers, they go to administrators and other bloat outside classrooms. So the kids are just unions’ human shields on their way to raid the kids’ public bank accounts — again.

[…]As the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey has shown, U.S. public K-12 spending has skyrocketed over the past 50 years with no improvement in academic outcomes. Other researchers repeatedly find increasing spending doesn’t help students. That’s because, as noted above, schools typically don’t send more money to classrooms, they use it to increase bureaucracy and nonacademic programming.

Got that? When taxpayers throw money at public schools, the teachers don’t see very much of that money. It gets put into education administrators and indoctrinators – people whose sole job is to make sure that the children accept secular left values.

Check out this graph of education spending compared to test scores:

Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat
Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat

Spending more doesn’t produce the results that parents are looking for, for their children. Parents want children to learn what they need to find work and become financially independent. But teachers, adminsitrators, etc. have a very different goal: making little secular leftists. And that’s what they use increased funding for that. Numbers don’t lie.

Another way that public schools waste money is by promising massive gold-plated public sector pensions to teachers – pensions that no private sector  taxpayer would ever get themselves. And they use any increase in their budgets to pay the pensions of teachers who are retired, and not helping students to learn.

Teacher pensions

I saw a really nice map of the United States over at Daily Signal, with all the outstanding pensions liabilities, and the amount ranges from about $7600 in Tennessee (the best state in the union) to tens of thousands in the big blue socialist states.

Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers
Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers

Joy explains:

States promised such outsized retirement benefits to the last generation of public-school teachers that they’re paying off this promise with current revenues. A national average of $6,800 per year per teacher pays former teachers’ pensions that state and local governments failed to save up for while those teachers were working. That’s money that could have instead boosted current teachers’ salaries. The problem is only going to get worse as more baby boomers retire and legislatures continue to hide their heads in the sand.

It’s not just that states and districts failed to save up for pensions they knew would come due, it’s that they offered literally the cushiest pensions available to teachers, notes a 2016 study: “as a group, [teachers] have by far the highest retirement costs, even compared with other public-sector employees. While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation.”

Like I said, I don’t have a pension funded by taxpayers. I’m having to saving for my own retirement, as well of the retirement of these wealthy government workers. Public sector benefits are paid by taxpayers in the private (free market) sector. We are the ones wh have to make products and services that consumers are actually willing to pay for in a free market. Unlike teachers, I can’t go on strike if I feel I’m not paid enough. If I go on strike, I’ll be fired. But they go on strike, holding children hostage to get more money. With no guarantee of improved student performance.

Joy also notes that teachers are actually vastly overpaid already, based on what their marketable skills:

[…][R]esearch finds teachers are overpaid by an average of 50 percent relative to their skills and mental abilities. The overage comes almost exclusively from their fat benefit packages.

The reason they complain about pay is because the majority of their pay is going into extravagant health care, paid time off, pension, paid training, etc. benefits. When you add back all those benefits, they’re being overpaid compared to an equivalent private sector worker.

Regulations

Another factor that lowers student performance is that the fact that teachers are highly regulated. Instead of spending their time teaching students, they are forced to waste time doing other non-teaching tasks.

Joy explains:

Education regulations are almost always decided by non-teachers, and the effects are about what you would guess from that fact. Rather than benefiting students, these regulations typically require or justify ever-expanding employment for the very bureaucrat types who come up with them. I’m talking about things like teacher licensing mandates, which researchers have long found do not improve teacher quality and traffic in disproven education fads (but do provide easy-access cash cows for state departments of education and teacher colleges since teachers are required to keep buying their products to maintain certification); ever-increasing testing and data-entry mandates; centralized curriculum mandates like Common Core; centralized teacher evaluation and ratings systems; and the massive data entry required to document things like student behavior problems and special education services.

More money being wasted that doesn’t help students to learn more at all.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to allow parents to choose who provides their children with an education, instead of having the money automatically taxed and spent by a massive secular left education bureaucracy. If teachers have their money in their hands, they will spend it where they can get the best quality for the best price – just like they do in every other area of their lives. That might be scary for teachers, administrators and indoctrinators, but in a free market, the parents should not be obligated to pay for something they don’t want. We should be concerned about the children first and foremost.

Republicans introduce new federal legislation to expand school choice

If I were giving advice to the Republican party about how to win in 2020, I would advise them to focus on three priorities. Lowering unemployment, reforming the criminal justice system, and expanding school choice. They should also paint the Democrats as the party of infanticide, Green New Deal and elimination of private health insurance.

So far, Trump has done an excellent job of encouraging private sector job creators to create millions of new jobs. Unemployment is at a record low, and that’s important for persuading Black and Hispanic voters to vote for smart policies instead of tribal identity and envy. I don’t agree with with reforming criminal justice to favor criminals, but that will help with minority voters as well. But what we really need to do is provide Black and Hispanic voters with a way to get their children out of failing public schools. Public schools are filled with lazy, unionized Democrat teachers and administrators who care more about indoctrinating kids with Democrat propaganda than teaching them job skills that will make them independent, self-sufficient adults.

The Republican party knows that school choice is a win for them, and they are doing something about it.

Here’s the latest from the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that promotes fiscally conservative policies:

Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), to announce new federal legislation that would establish a federal tax-credit expanding school choice. The proposal would give dollar-for-dollar tax credits to individuals and corporations who donate to state designated scholarship granting organizations (SGOs). While its particulars bear scrutiny, the “Education Freedom Scholarship” (EFS) proposal’s overall design is a solid attempt to walk a tightrope of backing state efforts at school choice while protecting against federal meddling now and in the future. Unfortunately, a number of critics on the right are too quick to react on their fears, and too slow in remembering what is holding back school choice.

Some conservatives and libertarians worry that solving the problem of underforming schools from the top down is a political overreach, but the AEI policy analyst writing the article says that the Republican bill doesn’t have that problem:

As I wrote back in 2017, backing state developed tax-credit scholarships is the best, and probably only, way the federal government could support state efforts without overreaching.  It would not be a federal program, but a tax credit that supports programs where states are explicitly responsible for policy particulars.

[…]No doubt, the bill would need to be explicitly structured to ensure the states’ primary role, and durably prevent federal overreach; fortunately defending states’ role is a paramount feature of the bill’s design.

School choice is a nice issue for Republicans, because it allows them to point out the hypocritical nature of Democrat politicians. Democrat politicians are essentially hypocritical. They want to ban guns for you, but they have armed security to protect themselves. It’s the same thing for education. They want to ban private schools for your children, but their own children all attend private schools.

Top Political Contributors in 2016 election cycle
The top Political Contributors in 2016 election cycle includes two teacher unions

Democrats are obligated by teacher unions, (e.g. – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers), to vote against parents who want their children to get a better education. That’s because teacher unions are some of the biggest Democrat donors. Teacher unions just want more salary and bigger benefits, despite the evidence that clearly shows that more education spending doesn’t produce better student achievement.

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970

Here’s a study from 2012 published in the journal “Education and Urban Society“. It says:

The possibility is examined that school choice programs could be a means to reducing the achievement gap. Data based on meta-analytic research and the examination of nationwide data sets suggest that school choice programs that include private schools could reduce the achievement gap by 25%. The propounding of this possibility is based on research indicating that the achievement gap in faith-based schools is generally 25% narrower than one finds in public schools. Results of these studies suggest that both the racial achievement gap and the socioeconomic achievement gap are reduced by the same degree (25%). The significance of these results is discussed, especially as it pertains to the attitudes that people frequently have toward school choice.

Not only do children do better in non-public schools, but the competition forces public schools to focus less on leftist indoctrination, and more on reading, writing and math.

This study from the on-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) explains why.

It says:

A school that is more productive is one that produces higher achievement in its pupils for each dollar it spends. In this paper, I comprehensively review how school choice might affect productivity. I begin by describing the importance of school productivity, then explain the economic logic that suggests that choice will affect productivity, and finish by presenting much of the available evidence on school choice and school productivity. The most intriguing evidence comes from three important, recent choice reforms: vouchers in Milwaukee, charter schools in Michigan, and charter schools in Arizona. I show that public school students’ achievement rose significantly and rapidly in response to competition, under each of the three reforms. Public school spending was unaffected, so the productivity of public schools rose, dramatically in the case in Milwaukee.

School choice makes public schools perform better because competition between providers always lowers the cost and increases the quality of services and products being provided to the consumers. Consumers always suffer when there is a monopoly. This is why people are more satisfied purchasing goods from Amazon and Netflix than they are lining up at the post office or the department of motor vehicles. The free market serves the consumer.

I was raised in a poor background, and I am a visible minority. If Republicans want to get the votes of people in my community, it makes sense to put in place policies that allow people like me to get a good education so we can get good jobs and do better than our parents did. Republicans should be all about equipping people to be independent and self-sufficient. These are conservative goals.