Betsy DeVos: Friend of Students, Enemy of Big Government

Betsy DeVos' nomination as Secretary of Education has provoked fierce backlash from Senate Democrats (
Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education has provoked fierce backlash from Senate Democrats (Common Dreams).

The American Left is unabashedly, unapologetically, militantly pro-choice, enthusiastically supporting the right of women to make their own decisions when it comes to their bodies and their reproductive health.

Unfortunately, that is largely where their pro-choice mantra comes to an end. In fact, the American Left today on a litany of issues, has never been more prepared to gleefully take away your choice as an American citizen to do what you want with your life and your money.

Education, healthcare, retirement planning, welfare spending, funding for the arts and entertainment…you name it and the Democrats have a big government plan to do it…but the best part of all is that it involves you the American citizen paying 40% or 50% of your income to the government to do with as they wish.

To the hard-left wing of the Democratic Party, enchanted by the seductive songs of collectivism and socialism, the government is responsible…yes, even obligated, to provide these services to its citizens. Its grateful citizens, in turn, will trust their government to do what’s best for them, and accept government control without question. It sounds like toddlers at a nursery school.

But unfortunately, the nanny state and the welfare/warfare state, so decried by the libertarian movement, is on the rise in the United States, as with each passing year and appropriations bill, we slide farther down the slippery slope towards Scandinavian-style democratic socialism, as Democrats brainwash the millennial generation into believing that big government solutions are the just and moral way to solve all of society’s problems.

Enter Trump‘s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Senate Democrats are apoplectic. A Republican. A Christian. A billionaire. And worst of all…a proponent of market-oriented education reforms, and a fierce critic of teachers’ unions and the monopoly they exert over education.

DeVos has been ripped left and right by Democrats who question her wealth, inexperience, political donations, and “well outside of the mainstream views.” In fairness to the Democrats, it is true that the DeVos family, heirs to the Amway fortune, have given large amounts of money to the Republican Party. But to suggest that that is the sole reason DeVos has been nominated is preposterous. DeVos has two decades of experience working in public policy to fight for better education, practical solutions, and increased choices for parents and students.

And that is what scares the living day lights out of the teachers’ unions. Because when they lose their monopoly, their vice grip over the nation’s purse strings, they will no longer by guaranteed an endless stream of public funding and complete lack of competition. Because as it stands now, every American is forced to contribute to government run schools (often badly run) whether they like it or not.

Teachers unions exist to benefit teachers, not students. They use the exorbitant mandatory dues that they collect from their members to make massive contributions to the Democratic Party. Their tenure system ensures that it is virtually impossible to fire incompetent and unqualified teachers. They are ensured extremely generous compensation, benefits, and vacation time for the duration of their careers (far more generous than any private schools). Teachers unions are uniquely positioned to raise the cost and lower the quality of American education. And best of all, because all taxpaying Americans are obligated to fund public education, they have little incentive to innovate, expand, transform, or improve.

The fundamental truth of the matter is this: parents and students should be free to spend their educational dollars on the schooling of their choice, be it public, private, homeschooling, or some combination thereof. It is the pinnacle of hypocrisy for American liberals to claim that they are pro-choice and then demand that everyone else pay exorbitant taxes to support the public education system that they support.

DeVos has been a longtime proponent of charter schools and school voucher programs, which allow students from lower income school districts access to a greater range of schools. Yet, what DeVos proposes still involves a model in which public schools are the primary vehicle for educating America’s youth. It’s simply that she, in limited circumstances, would allow some students vouchers to attend some private schools. She proposes a moderate, not a radical, reform.

Which leads to a fundamental philosophical question: Do libertarians suggest that we do away with public education all together?

Yes, in a perfect world, many libertarians would suggest completely disassociating the school from the state, and allowing the free market to address educational issues.

Given that we live in a far from perfect world (and nation), and we seek to foster a meritocracy (as a cherished American value), free-market proponents should consider a variety of policy alternatives.

It seems intuitive that families should be able to make their own educational choices for their children. Yet, what do we do with families and parents that simply can not afford to pay for their childrens’ education?

My answer will enrage those who work in public education; but I am confident that in a truly free-market model, many private and parochial schools would voluntarily offer admission to students from low-income backgrounds: which confirms a fundamental truth of libertarianism. It is preposterous to suggest that only the government can provide a certain good or service.

And yes, even most libertarians would concede that in cases of true economic need, the state does have a moral authority to educate its most indigent citizens, at least for K-12 education.

Yet, in a nation where the GDP per capita is USD $51,638, it seems hardly outlandish, that the vast majority of parents can and should fund the education of their own children. Again…with their money, in the way that they wish, whether that education be public, private, homeschooling, or some combination thereof.

For the 10% or 15% or 20% of Americans incapable of paying for their childrens’ education, it is first and foremost the responsibility of families, religious institutions, and private charities to step in and bridge the gap. Only once these resources have been exhausted should the government step in.

So the next time you’re talking to left-wing friends, and they throw out terms like “liberty” “freedom” and “pro-choice”…ask them if that extends to education as well. That’s what Betsy DeVos would do.


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