Saturday, September 5, 2020

Will The Pandemic Give DeVos Her $5 Billion Voucher Scheme

Betsy DeVos has been pitching "Education Freedom" as long as she's been in office. It's a tax credit scholarship scheme, which is to say, a voucher program that would blow a $5 billion hole in the federal budget, but would be a real treat for rich folks who A) like private schools better than public ones and B) would rather not pay taxes to the feds.

This frickin' guy
The Education Freedom pitch has landed with a thud every time. But more recently what has been new about it is that, somehow, DeVos got Senator Ted "Least Loved Man In The Senate" Cruz to pitch it. And right this moment, Cruz is doing what he does best-- being an absolute pain in everyone's ass--and he's doing it over DeVos's pet project.

Yesterday, CNN reported that the Senate's new stimulus bill (which has been a the focus of a spectacular display of GOP dysfunction for months) may be hung up over Cruz's insistence that the DeVos Voucher Bill be included in the stimulus package.

CNN's sources say that

Cruz has argued the coronavirus pandemic has showcased the weakness of public school systems and that Republicans should get behind an idea that the party is advocating this election year, including at last month's Republican National Convention.

In other words, "the public schools are weak and undefended right now--let's go in for the kill." And Cruz has a point of sorts in noting that school choice is half of the bullet point action plan of the Trump campaign (the GOP has no platform this year beyond "media bad, always do the opposite of what Dems want, and support Beloved Leader at all costs").

On the other hand, while some GOP plutocrats and thinky folks love vouchers, history says that the voters don't. Yes, there have been various polls run that purport to show broad support for choice, but they depend a great deal on friendly wording of the proposition. IOW, nobody has been out there asking, "Do you support the idea of reducing the funding for your local public school so that a handful of students can attend a private school, one that might reject your own child if you applied."

CNN notes that some GOP candidates are worried about trying to sell this program back home in an election year (particularly candidates like Susan Collins who already have enough trouble this time).

CNN being CNN, the piece also includes statements like this one:

School choice has been a top conservative cause for years but has gained fresh urgency during the pandemic.

Which is so much more polite and CNN-ier than "the folks who oppose government schools are salivating right now because they smell blood."

McConnell needs Cruz's vote, and this program seems to be the quid that Cruz is hanging his pro quo on. Even as his office issues senseless statements like this one:

"Sen. Cruz has been a leading advocate for school choice in the Senate," said Lauren Blair Aronson, a Cruz spokeswoman. "Throughout the pandemic, he has urged his colleagues to focus on solutions that will help get Americans safely back to work and our kids safely back into the classroom, including provisions of his Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act, which would give families the resources they need to ensure their children have access to a quality education in these uncertain times."

I've read this kind of statement a couple of times from DeVos backers, and I keep wondering-- do they serious mean to hint that somehow private schools are impervious to the coronavirus? Or this just to appeal to those who think it's all a fake and want a school that will just keep plowing on and ignore Covid-19?

However you cut it, this bill is bad news for public school (did I mention that it represents a $5 billion cut to federal funding) and would be the ultimate step forward in moving public tax dollars to private and religious schools. But the Senate GOP really wants to get something done so they can stop looking like Covid relief shmucks. This would be an excellent time to get a hold of your Senator's office and say, "No, thanks. But no."

1 comment:

  1. DeVos has been the greatest threat to public education in our country for years. The Resident gave her the power to enact her perverted scheme of profiting from education at the expense of our children's futures. She must be stopped, arrested, and imprisoned for her crimes against the people of America.