Tag Archives: School Choice

Education Secretary Betsy Devos scores a victory against public sector union

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos

Although you would never know it from the mainstream news media, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is doing her best to advance a taxpayer-friendly agenda in education policy.

Here’s the latest from the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank:

In a noteworthy development, DeVos’s team this month radically revamped the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs the 3,900 employees at the U.S. Department of Education. The new CBA, between the Department and Council 252 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), includes big changes from the 2013 agreement negotiated under the Obama administration.

The new agreement doesn’t address compensation or benefits, of course, since those are governed by federal law, but it does include a raft of sensible, taxpayer-friendly changes.

The new CBA eliminates the set-aside of “official time” for union business. Under the old agreement, designated union representatives were free to work on union business during normal, government hours — all on the taxpayers’ dime. The old CBA stipulated that “no fewer than 75” (!) union stewards across the country could work up to 40 hours a year on “official time,” while another three union officers would devote 100 percent of their time to union business. Henceforth, union business will be done on union time, rather than on the taxpayers’.

Under the old agreement, department employees were given only a solitary 48-hour window each year in which they could opt out of union membership; miss that, and they were automatically enrolled. Henceforth, employees who wish to be in the union each year will be free to do so, and they will have an extended period in which to enroll — but they will have to actively choose to join.

The revamped accord also removes the requirements for “pre-decisional consultation.” Under the previous CBA, the department was required to consult the union before every agency-wide decision that could be construed as affecting the work of employees (such as transferring employees from one office to another, or even shifting employees from one project to another within the same office). Now, the department needs only notify the union of such decisions.

Under the new CBA, the union will be charged “fair-market rent” for the use of government office space and federally furnished equipment to conduct union business. Under the Obama-era accord, taxpayers were required to provide space and equipment to the union free of charge.

More generally, the new agreement removes a number of provisions that added burdensome procedural directives above and beyond statutory requirements when it came to things such as telework and grievance procedures.

If there is one thing I expected from Betsy Devos, it’s taxpayer-friendly education policy.

Unfortunately, the Republican party didn’t help her very much in that massive $1.3 Billion spending bill that they passed, with Democrat support. Betsy wants to cut federal spending on education, and return control of education policy to the states and municipalities. But the GOP just gave the Department of Education a bigger budget. We really need to switch out some of these big government Republicans for authentic conservatives.

Five liberal Democrat policies that hurt minorities

Marriage and Poverty
Marriage and Poverty

The five policies are:

  • higher minimum wage rates
  • opposition to school voucher programs
  • releasing criminals from jail
  • affirmative action
  • single mother welfare

This article is by Jason L. Riley, and it appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

At the urging of labor unions, President Obama has pushed for higher minimum wages that price a disproportionate percentage of blacks out of the labor force. At the urging of teachers unions, he has fought voucher programs that give ghetto children access to better schools.

Both policies have a lengthy track record of keeping millions of blacks ill-educated and unemployed. Since the 1970s, when the federal government began tracking the racial achievement gap, black test scores in math, reading and science have on average trailed far behind those of their white classmates. And minimum-wage mandates have been so effective for so long at keeping blacks out of work that 1930, the last year in which there was no federal minimum-wage law, was also the last year that the black unemployment rate was lower than the white rate. For the past half-century, black joblessness on average has been double that of whites.

Last week the Justice Department said it would release some 6,000 inmates from federal prison starting later this month. The goal, according to the White House, is to ease overcrowding and roll back tough sentencing rules implemented in the 1980s and ’90s.

But why are the administration’s sympathies with the lawbreakers instead of their usual victims—the mostly law-abiding residents in low-income communities where many of these inmates eventually are headed? In dozens of large U.S. cities, violent crime, including murder, has climbed over the past year, and it is hard to see how these changes are in the interest of public safety.

The administration assures skeptics that only “nonviolent” drug offenders will be released, but who pays the price if we guess wrong, as officials have so often done in the past?

When Los Angeles asked the Rand Corp. in the 1990s to identify inmates suitable for early release, the researchers concluded that “almost no one housed in the Los Angeles jails could be considered non-serious or simply troublesome to their local communities” and that “jail capacity should be expanded so as to allow lengthier incarceration of the more dangerous.”

A 2002 federal report tracked the recidivism rate of some 91,000 supposedly nonviolent offenders in 15 states over a three-year period. More than 21% wound up rearrested for violent crimes, including more than 700 murders and more than 600 rapes. The report also noted the difficulty of identifying low-risk inmates. Auto thieves were rearrested for committing more than a third of the homicides and a disproportionate share of other violent offenses.

Keep in mind that when criminals are release, they don’t go move into wealthy progressive neighborhoods. It’s not the wealthy leftists elites who have to deal with the released inmates. It’s the poor, low-income minority neighborhoods that have to deal with them.

By the way, I covered the minimum wage argument here, and I covered the school choice argument here.

That covers the first 3 policies. This article from The College Fix covers the fourth policy, affirmative action.

It says:

A UCLA law professor critiques affirmative action as detrimental to the very people it strives to aid: minority students.

Professor Richard Sander, though liberal-leaning, has deemed affirmative action practices as harmful, a notion that contradicts a liberal view in college admissions, said Stuart Taylor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

[…]Sander began teaching law at UCLA in 1989. After a few years he garnered an interest in academic support and asked permission to analyze which strategies most effectively assist struggling students.

After reviewing statistics on performance, especially those of students with lower academic merit, he noticed correlations between race and academic success.

“I was struck by both the degree to which it correlated with having weak academic entering credentials and its correlation with race,” Sander said in a recent interview with The College Fix. “And as I looked into our admissions process I realized that we were giving really a large admissions preference.”

Sander noticed that students admitted into the law school with lower academic credentials than their peers had significantly lower percentages of passing the Multistate Bar Examination, Sander said. This especially pertained to minority students who were given special consideration in the admittance process due to their race rather than their academic preparedness.

He then began thinking about whether or not these students would have better chances of succeeding if they went to a less elite university, he said.

He called this discrepancy a mismatch; when minority students with lower credentials than their peers are accepted into more challenging universities and then suffer academically as a result.

And the fifth policy is welfare. Welfare encourages women to not marry the men that they have sex with, since they will lose their single mother benefits if they do. Children who are raised fatherless are more likely to struggle in a number of areas, and they are especially likely to be poor. What we should be doing (if we really want to help the poor) is paying people to get married and stay married. But Democrats are opposed to that. The connection between welfare, fatherlessness, poverty and crime is explained in a previous post.

Is what Ted Cruz does in the Senate relevant to you?

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to for tax reform

Sometimes, I talk to rank and file Christians and see what they are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in parenting, sports, movies and the same sort of stuff that non-Christians are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in Bible study and theology, and maybe even philosophy of religion. But only rarely are they interested in apologetics and public policy. However, public policy is very important to Christians, because it affects how we work, how much we earn after taxes, and how much freedom we have to spend our money as we see fit. If you have Kingdom of God goals for your life as a Christian that are different from the ordinary minimal life goals of a non-Christian, then public policy is very important to you.

With that said, education has to be one of the most important areas that Christians are concerned about. Not only do we not want our children to be taught lies, but we also want them to be taught marketable skills that will allow them to have an influence as a Christian. If public schools are not doing a good job at both tasks, then we need to get the money we were forced to pay in taxes for them back, so we can make better choices about education.

The Washington Examiner reports on what conservative Texas senator Ted Cruz has done lately that will be interesting to Christians who are thoughtful about how their children are educated.

Excerpt:

Parents would get new federal tax breaks for sending their children to private or religious schools or teaching them at home if the final Republican tax overhaul bill becomes law.

For that, they can thank Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who offered the original amendment to extend 529 college savings plans to grade school and high school, including costs for homeschooling.

Cruz’s amendment was the only one, setting aside manager’s amendments, to be added on either chamber’s floor. It passed as Republicans moved their bill through the Senate in the closing hours of Dec. 1. Cruz got an assist from Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment after Republicans Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine balked at the measure.

The amendment, which would allow $10,000 per child to be distributed from tax-privileged 529 savings plans each year, was included in Friday’s joint House-Senate conference bill. It would represent a tax cut of about $500 billion over 10 years, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

With the Cruz amendment’s inclusion, passage of the bill would represent a major advancement for school choice at the federal level.

The House version of the legislation contained a similar measure. It also included a noteworthy provision that would have permitted parents to open 529 accounts for unborn children. That language, which pro-abortion rights supporters had decried as an attempt to restrict abortion through the tax code, didn’t make it into the final bill.

One of the things that disappoints me about Donald Trump is that he does so little to persuade others to adopt conservative positions. Instead of being reasonable and using evidence, he is more likely to take to Twitter to get into a third-grade-level mocking match with people who disagree with him. It is true that he has done some conservative things, like reducing regulations, nominating great judges, and so on. But a great communicator creates consensus by being persuasive. You might not be able to persuade the radical leftists, but you have to be able to persuade at least some of the moderates. Ted Cruz has a much better record of being persuasive on policy issues than Donald Trump. And that’s probably because Ted Cruz has experience debating in college, and made it through Harvard University law school as an open conservative. He was considered brilliant by his progressive law professors, even though they didn’t agree with him.

We’re better off – from a public policy point of view – when we elect people who know how to be persuasive on public policy issues. Clowning around is entertaining, but it doesn’t get the wall built, and it doesn’t get Obamacare repealed. You have to be a better debater to get those kinds of things done.

New study: discipline in schools is more effective than increased government spending

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970 – but where are the results?

New study reported by Phys.org. (H/T Mark)

Excerpt:

Discipline in schools has a greater impact and is more important to educational performance when compared to monetary investment, a new study from Macquarie University has found.

The study found that school performance was overwhelmingly determined by how schools are run, while in comparison the amount of money spent on schools as a percentage of GDP had a minor influence on educational performance.

“Monetary investment in education is not sufficient to boost educational performance. Discussion on education policy often centres on funding, but this study now establishes that a much more effective ‘tool’ to improve education performance and ultimately the competitiveness of a nation, is to focus on school discipline,” said co-author Associate Professor Chris Baumann of the study, published in the International Journal of Educational Management.

In analysing educational performance, the research assessed data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), World Bank data on Government Expenditure, and World Economic Forum (WEF) data on competitiveness.

Thanks to Obama and his allies in the House and Senate, we now have a $20 trillion national debt, and $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt from students. He left the Republicans with a mess, because his first, last and only solution to feeling unpopular was to borrow and spend more money – even if that never solved any problems.

Another important factor in the educational performance of children is whether they have married opposite-sex parents in the home.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

In fact, our new study, “Strong Families, Successful Schools,” by the Institute for Family Studies, provides evidence that families play an important role in the performance and character of schools in counties across Florida. We found that the share of married-parent families in a county is one of the strongest predictors of high-school graduation rates for Florida counties; indeed, it’s a more powerful predictor than family income, race or ethnicity.

Across the state’s counties, graduation rates are 4 percentage-points higher for every 10 percentage-point rise in married-couple families.

We also found that counties that have strong and stable families tend to enjoy safer schools. In our research, the strongest predictor of school-suspension rates in counties across the state was the share of married parents in a county. County trends in family structure proved to be more important than county trends in parental education, family income, race and ethnicity. The suspension rate was lower by 3.5 points for every 10 percentage points that the proportion of married-couple families in a county was higher.

Our research is particularly timely because it compliments new research from MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues. Their study of more than 1 million Florida children indicates that poor boys, more than poor girls, are being hit particularly hard by single parenthood. After comparing brothers and sisters from father-absent homes, Autor and his colleagues concluded that the “boy-girl gap in suspensions is far smaller in families where children are born to married parents” and that the gender gap in high-school graduation is smaller for children whose parents are married.

Previously, I blogged about a Canadian study which concluded that children of same-sex parents have negative educational outcomes compared to children of opposite sex married parents.

Are Democrats in favor of opposite-sex marriage?

Democrats want to pay women welfare for having children out of wedlock, which not only lowers the academic performance of the children, but it introduces lack of discipline and disruption into the schools. Although Democrats claim they want to improve educational outcomes, (by borrowing and giving more money to their allies in the unionized public school system), their policies actually harm children. That is the result, whatever their pious intentions. And we all know that it was Democrats who pushed same-sex marriage on children, depriving children of either their mother or their father.

Democrats are also opposed to school choice. School choice allows parents to get their children out of failing public schools. School choice is especially beneficial to poor, minority students. Public schools are so bad, that even Democrat politicians refuse to send their own children to them.

So, for all their pious preening about wanting the best for children, Democrats really achieve two things: 1) worse educational outcomes for children, 2) more taxpayer money given to Democrat administrators and teachers in the failing public school system. When it comes to educating children, Democrats are against it.

Before you marry, have enough money saved to keep your kids out of public schools

Women react to Clinton loss
Women react to Clinton loss

My friend William shared this excellent article from The Federalist, which talks about how public schools, under the influence of Common Core, are exposing children to pornography in order to advance a leftist culture agenda. The article has the stories of several heroic mothers who stood up to the school system and got the pornographic materials removed. Let’s look at one of them, and then I’ll comment on how public school administrators and teachers should be viewed, then I’ll comment on the issue of financing these public schools, then I’ll talk about planning for schooling of your children.

Excerpt:

In 2012, Lebanon, Oregon, mother of two Macey France began studying the nationwide implementation of Common Core. While looking through a document titled “Common Core Appendix B” that contained reading exemplars, Macey found the book, “The Bluest Eye” listed as an example of appropriate assigned literature for eleventh- and twelfth-grade students.*

France, a contributor to the website PolitiChicks, took to her keyboard and typed up a scathing condemnation of the book as not high-school appropriate, including quotes directly from the book, such as:

I am not putting pornographic excerpts from public school books on this blog, duh.

We continue:

As a result, her article “Common Core-Approved Child Pornography” was viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times and Macey was nominated for a CPAC blogger award for Best Sunlight Post of 2013.

“This is when I first became a ‘target’ for the progressives who support public education and minimize parental rights,” said France, who had a hard time understanding how her well-researched, truthful article could make her the target of the kind of emotional, hateful rhetoric she experienced. It frustrated her to be personally attacked for wanting to protect her kids. It also frustrated her to find many parents who weren’t concerned about their teens reading “The Bluest Eye” because they believed school officials knew more about what was best for their children than they did.

“I was called names, accused of being backwards, racist [Toni Morrison is a black woman], ignorant, a flat-earther, and even received private messages on Facebook telling me how hateful I was,” France said. “I was first introduced to the phrase ‘white privilege.’ At one point, I was called Hitler. I was misunderstood and accused of wanting to ban and burn books [even though] I went out of my way to convey that I am not an advocate for banning literature. I am a huge parental rights advocate. I got the distinct impression I was not supposed to question the manner in which they [educators] related to my kids.”

My problem with public school is not that education school graduates are selecting high brow reading material that is above me. I love Shakespeare and Spenser and Dickens and Austen and other classical writers. The problem I have with public schools is that some of the teachers, and most of the administrators, have this agenda to break down traditional morality and sexualize children at earlier and earlier ages. This is part of the secular progressive agenda – they know that sexualizing children makes them less likely to become conservative, less likely to marry, less likely to have children who are raised by a mom and dad, and who are therefore more resistant to the will of the secular leftist government.

Public schools are leftist indoctrination seminaries

A good example of how this works can be found in the province of Ontario, Canada. There, the Liberal Party government is led by a lesbian woman who left her husband and children to move in with her lover. The Liberal Party decided to re-write the education curriculum so that it would be more in line with their supporters in the Sexual Revolution crowd, e.g. -secularists, LGBT activists, abortion providers, etc. And so, they hired a convicted child pornographer to re-write the curriculum. They didn’t see the public school’s priority as teaching children how to get the skills needed to find jobs that pay. They wanted the public schools to make children non-judgmental about the immoral behaviors of the selfish adults.

It’s very important for parents to understand that people don’t just find themselves in education programs and then in public schools by accident. Sometimes they are in there because they couldn’t find real work in the private sector. Sometimes they are there because they want to indoctrinate your kids with their left-wing ideology. You can’t assume that the people in public schools want to partner with you to pass on prudent and practical Judeo-Christian wisdom to your children. The public school monopoly attracts those who are looking for job security and insulation from the disapproval of their customers. It’s true that some teachers are there to educate students so they have useful skills in order to find good jobs. But in my experience, many of teachers aren’t, and most of the administrators aren’t.

Note: private school teachers and administrators have to compete with other schools, so they are sensitive to meeting the needs of parents. At least you have a choice about where you send your kids, so they have to care what you want for your kids, and how much you are able to pay.

Don’t vote for bigger government if you value quality education

So how do these public schools get their funding? Well, it’s simple. They appeal to voters by saying that the more they spend on public schools, the more children will learn. This actually works on voters who don’t bother to familiarize themselves with the facts:

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

The truth is that parents who want children to do well should always vote for smaller government, lower taxes, and the pushing down of decision-making in education policy to the state and local level. We shouldn’t be swayed by “it’s for the children” rhetoric, because throwing more money at the problem only gives us more sexual revolution indoctrination and more gay rights agenda. Most of the new money goes to administrators anyway – not to the teachers in the classrooms. You might think that the public schools are there to help your children to get a job, but that’s not what they public school administrators think they are there for.

Getting married? Make a plan to provide for your kids’ education

One final point. I am finding myself surrounded by male Christian apologists who want to get married, and who are not interested in being providers. They’ve spend their entire 20s in school as students, they’ve taken money from their parents, they’ve never worked a day in their lives, they have outstanding student loans, they have no savings, and yet they all talk to women they like about marriage. My view is that Christian men should not be allowed to talk to women – even to ask them the time of day or for directions – until they have a STEM degree, 2 years of private sector work experience, all debts paid off, a car and some savings. And why not? Well, for reasons like this article on the public schools.

The public schools are what they are, and Christian parents cannot rely on them to educate our kids. If a man is talking about marriage without having taken steps to get a STEM degree, STEM private sector work history, and an investment account that is added to every month, then he has no business talking to a woman about marriage. He has to be able to show her that he is serious about providing the children with homeschooling or a private school education. How parents plan to educate their kids is a major issue in marriage – it affects whether the children will be effective and influential, or not. A woman should not trust the promises of any man who has not taken practical steps in the past to prepare for the needs of his children in the future. She cannot accept intentions and promises that make her feel good, she has to see evidence of his ability to put aside his ambitions in order to provide for her and the children – that is his obligation as a man (1 Tim 5:8). A man who wants marriage should prepare well in advance for it by having a career that will allow him to earn and save so that his wife and children will not be threatened in their worldview more than they can bear. If he has to give up some student stuff and some ministry stuff in order to prepare for husband / father responsibilities, then he should do that – before the wedding day.