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NYTimes Explains Betsy DeVos World View: Help Only Those Who Want to Help Themselves

June 11, 2017

In an article in today’s NYTimes, Erica Green provides an in-depth background on Betsy DeVos’ upbringing and suggests that it is the root for her subsequent advocacy for school choice. The article offers an even-handed description of the network of non-public Christian Schools in Western Michigan, all of whom are making a genuine effort to serve disadvantaged children in their region. But in doing so, they overlook one key factor: the children who are struggling the most in public schools are the children whose parents are incapable of providing them with the support they need to succeed in ANY kind of school… the parents who, for whatever reason, cannot navigate the application systems required to “choose” schools like those underwritten by Betsy DeVos. Instead, those who support the kinds of choice Ms. DeVos advocates, which would allow parents to enroll in schools that are specifically designed to segregate children based on religion, tend to demonize the unions public school teachers being to. The article concludes with a series of observation made by John Booy, the head of the Potters School that Ms. DeVos has championed in her speeches:

Mr. Booy said two things separated his school and his old public school: teacher involvement and parent buy-in.

Though teachers are not unionized, they are certified, and all are required to sign off on their application that “I accept without reservation the school’s statement of faith.” Parents are required to sign a similar statement, attend all three annual parent-teacher conferences and commit to 25 hours of service a year or leave the school. No one has had to leave. The school has a waiting list of more than 200.

Mr. Booy rejects the notion that his school is doing harm to public schools.

“Even though we’re not a public school, we’re educating for the public good,” he said. “I think we need to be more about saving a child than a child saving the system.”

If the Potters School is the paradigm for “choice”, it appears that only parents who are willing to sign off on a “statement of faith” and who have the wherewithal to “commit to 25 hours of service a year” will be allowed to “choose”. If you limit the pool of children you seek to save to children whose parents can meet those standards, you are clearly damaging the system and harming public schools… but you might be meeting one of Ms. DeVos’ declared goals of public education, which is to “advance God’s kingdom.”

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