Former secretary of education Betsy DeVos told Republicans to take advantage of a “window of opportunity,” following months of Democrats’ making an enemy out of school choice and parent involvement in education.
On Wednesday, DeVos advised Republicans on Capitol Hill to bring school choice legislation to the floor. Parents are “mad as hell at public schools,” said DeVos, and are “searching for alternatives.” DeVos cited the Democrats prioritizing teachers’ union interests over those of parents and the rise of critical race theory in curricula.
DeVos described students as hostages of powerful teachers’ unions that screamed for school closures during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Teachers’ unions recently received negative attention following the September release of student performance data following the pandemic, which shows a drop in reading and the first drop ever in math performance.
Parents in underperforming, democrat-dominated cities like Philadelphia have tried turning away from failing public schools to charter schools.
The Federalist reports that the city’s school board has not approved a charter school since it took over authorization despite widespread support.
Republicans and even moderate democrats point out that not all charter schools are the same, and that in inner cities charter schools can be particularly effective within minority and low-income communities.
DeVos, speaking at the School Choice Caucus event, called on members of congress to support the “Educational Choice for Children Act” by Tim Scott (R-SC). The act would set aside billions of dollars in tax credits for students to attend their school of choice. DeVos also praised Gov. Doug Ducey, (R-AZ) for passing universal state choice legislation in Arizona, and encouraged other state leaders to follow suit.
Scott told the Free Beacon that school choice is a “bipartisan issue” that is popular with voters across class, race and party. Scott believes Democrat lawmakers in D.C. are disconnected with voters on this issue.
Recent election results indicate a swing away from the Democrats on the education issue. Gov. Glenn Younkin (R-VA) won his election by running on banning critical race theory in schools. Youngkin won 56 percent of the parent vote in Virginia — a state that Biden won by 10 points in 2020. “Now is the time to strike,” says DeVos.
A Real Clear Opinion Research poll found in June that school choice is popular across racial groups. Only 36 percent of voters support teachers’ unions according to the poll.