OPINION: A HUGE Breakthrough For Our Kids

Posted with permission from the Dan Cirucci Blog

Hey, how about this: these are VERY good days for school choice.

Wow, we haven’t heard that for awhile, have we?

But suddenly, America is about to welcome a new Secretary of Education who’s not only a school choice advocate but a funder of school choice and an outright champion as well! How about that!

President-elect Donald J. Trump has announced his intent to nominate Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the United States Department of Education. A leader in the national school reform movement for more than two decades, Betsy DeVos is a highly successful education advocate, businesswoman, and philanthropist.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” said President-elect Trump. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families. I am pleased to nominate Betsy as Secretary of the Department of Education.”

According to Betsey DeVos,  “the status quo in education is not acceptable.” And, she adds, “together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

A native of Michigan, Betsy DeVos has spent decades advocating for school choice reforms and helping underserved children gain access to quality education. DeVos is chairman of the American Federation for Children whose mission is to “improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.”

Well, we’re sure that this great news will cheer everyone we heard from this summer at the Amplify Choice conference (#amplifychoice) that we attended in Denver sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

What a riches of information and inspiration that event proved to be!

At the conference we heard from Ben Scafidi of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Scafidi delivered some shocking figures documenting the waste and mismanagement in our failed public school system.

DeVosConsider the following:

From 1950 to 2009 the number of students in schools in America went up 385% while the number of school personnel increased more than 700%. Most of that increase was administrators.

Staffing went from 19 students per staff member in 1950 to about seven students per staff member in 2009.

Yet, for all this surge in staffing, student achievement did not rise

Public high school graduation rates remained about the same or lower.

And, the no child left behind law (NCLB) did NOT cause the staffing surge. In fact, there was more hiring of teachers rather than administrators under NCLB. The law actually reversed the trend toward administrative hires somewhat

And here’s another thing that Scafidi found: Incredibly, if you cut class size you often actually lower teacher quality.

But there’s more. From 1992 to 2014 teacher hiring increased 28% while administrator hiring increased 45%.

The number of students went up 19% while staff hirings increased by nearly twice that much.

If US schools had increased non-teaching staff merely at the same rate as the increase in the number of students, public schools would have saved $27 BILLION per year!

What were we doing with all these administrators?

Bottom line: school choice is growing because it is an effective and successful alternative to our bloated, top-heavy public education system. Charter schools and other choice models do more with less. They produce better students with less bureaucracy, fewer administrators, more teacher accountability and a better parent-teacher relationship. Parents and students gain a “hands-on” sense of ownership in charter schools which often inspire a new sense of pride from the communities they serve.

Now under Betsey DeVos, a remarkably accomplished woman who is chair of the Windquest Group and has also served on national and local charitable and civic boards, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, The Philanthropy Roundtable and Kids Hope USA, America will have a Secretary of Education who puts our kids and their future success first.

This is so long overdue that all we can say is “Hooray!”.