Home > Uncategorized > National Review Article Purporting Widespread Support for Choice Conveniently Overlooks Some Key Facts

National Review Article Purporting Widespread Support for Choice Conveniently Overlooks Some Key Facts

November 18, 2018

My “For You” feed on Google News offered me an opportunity to read the conservative perspective on school choice in the form of a National Review article by John Schilling titled “Policymakers Should Listen to Voters on School Choice“. In the article Mr. Schilling, who replaced Betsy DeVos as the President of the American Federation for Children, cites several polls done by various choice advocacy groups that indicate widespread support for choice.

The article, however, conveniently overlooks the results of Arizona’s Proposition 305, which sought to repeal a recently enacted law designed to expand vouchers in that state, a proposition that school choice advocates went to court to block, a proposition that was not underwritten by teachers’ unions but rather advanced by 111,000 parents, and a proposition that passed resoundingly with 65% of the voters seeking to cap the voucher program at its current level.

The article also overlooked the high profile defeat of Marshall Tuck in his run for State Superintendent in California and the defeat of “choice champion” Scott Walker in Wisconsin, campaigns that explicitly framed choice as one of the key elements.

Most importantly, the National Review article also opened with a misleading sentence:

Despite a lot of headwinds and massive spending by the teachers’ unions and other opponents of education reform, school-choice supporters did very well in the 2018 midterm elections.

Let’s look at the facts in the Arizona vote, as reported in Ballotpedia:

There was one committee, Yes for Ed AZ, registered in support of a “yes” vote (uphold the law) on Proposition 305. The committee had raised $53,801 and spent $51,875. The top contributor was Every Child Can Learn, Inc., which provided $25,000.[19]

There was one committee, Save Our Schools Arizona, registered in support of a “no” vote (repeal the law) on Proposition 305. The committee had raised $594,032 and spent $535,192. The top contributor to the campaign was Save Our Schools Arizona – 501(c)(4), which contributed $255,774.[19]

We could also look at the California election where Marshall Tuck’s supporters outspent him 2-to-1 and Wisconsin where Scott Walker raised six times as much as his opponent.

There is one cold hard fact that is irrefutable, however…. and it’s this:

American Federation for Children and our affiliates participated in 377 state races to support pro–school choice candidates in 12 states, winning 77 percent of them. Heading into the 2019 legislative sessions, there are now pro–school choice governors and state legislatures in most states in the country.

I don’t have the time to examine the spending in these various races touted by the National Review, but I am very doubtful that the “…massive spending by the teachers’ unions and other opponents of education reform” matched the $5,300,000 “invested” in the 377 races by the American Federation for Children in the primary, runoff, and general elections across 377 races in 12 states, especially given the massive outspending that occurred in the elections cited above.

As long as money can be freely spent by purportedly disinterested individuals, those who spend the most will likely win the most… and democracy loses to plutocracy.

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