By Steve Buckstein
Opponents of Betsy DeVos tried everything they could to keep her from becoming U.S. Secretary of Education. In the end, she was approved by the Senate on Tuesday with Vice President Pence breaking a 50-50 tie vote.
In addition to arguments that she is wealthy (which she is) and that she never attended public schools (which she didn’t), opponents feigned shock that she had the temerity to argue that educating children takes precedence over protecting and funding public schools that may not meet their needs.
Perhaps her opponents’ biggest error is thinking that private schools are not providing “public education.” But they are. Many Americans recognize that meeting the educational needs of children trumps meeting the financial needs of the adults who work in public school buildings.
Public education means educating the public—or it should. Students don’t suddenly stop being part of the public just because their parents believe they will be better educated in other than their local public school building.
Betsy DeVos believes that public funding of education shouldn’t be limited to schools dominated by public teachers unions. She may not be a friend of those unions, but she is a friend of children who may need those funds to help them learn somewhere else. She has, and will advocate for school choice programs including charters, vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts that allow those children to take their public education funds to the schools they and their families—not the government—choose.
Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.