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Chicago Tribune Defends Betsy DeVos and School Choice

The Chicago Tribune issued a terrific editorial last week supporting school choice, calling out senators for their unfair treatment of Betsy DeVos, and exposing Democrats’ hypocrisy on the issue:

Like many televised events on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing of Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos alternated between interrogation and crass disparagement. DeVos tried to answer loaded policy questions, mostly from Democrats, only to be interrupted by senators whose aim was to discredit her qualifications.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren once supported vouchers

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waved off DeVos after the Tuesday evening hearing, refusing to shake her hand. Like DeVos, Warren once supported school choice and vouchers, but you wouldn’t know it based on her purposeful attempts to upbraid DeVos before the cameras.

The senators’ attempts to paint DeVos as a rich capitalist bent on turning schools into private profit centers rehashed the limp, decades-old arguments against charter schools and voucher programs. The committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was right when he described DeVos’ positions as mainstream. In her home state of Michigan, she spent more than a decade fighting for school choice programs that benefited mostly minority school children.

She’s not alone. Supporters of school choice have included many Democrats and Republicans — presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, a half-dozen education secretaries, and more than 30 states.

But not here. Chicago and Illinois are case studies in resisting this type of education reform.  Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis last fall called DeVos a “nightmare.”

Politicians should give underprivileged families the same opportunities

Instead of lauding DeVos for trying to break a failing status quo in places like Detroit, a handful of U.S. senators tried their best to depict her as an out-of-touch nincompoop whose goal was to destroy public schools. Yet half the Democrats on the committee either went to private school themselves or had children or grandchildren attending private schools, according to a recent report in The Daily Caller, a right-leaning news site.

It’s disturbing that so many politicians can choose the best educational opportunities for their kids but refuse to allow underprivileged families the same benefit.

For the fortunate and the clouted, there is school choice. For the families who need it the most, denied.

Peter Zeller is Director of Operations at Center of the American Experiment.

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