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Peter Greene: Betsy DeVos Gets Kellyanne Conway to Help Push a $5B Voucher Program

October 2, 2019

Peter Greene is a retired Pennsylvania teacher who contributes education-related articles to Forbes magazine. I find his writing style both informative and engaging.

Today, I share with my readers excerpts from Greene’s October 02, 2019, piece, entitled, “Betsy DeVos Enlists the Help of Kelyanne Conway and American Enterprise Institute to Sell $5 Billion School Choice Program.”

School choice is DeVos’ raison d’etre.

The sale is not going well.

From Greene’s article:

On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway sat down with Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute to make one more pitch for DeVos’s Education Freedom Scholarships. The program seems unlikely to succeed on the federal level.

What Is She Selling?

The EFS are what’s known as a tax credit scholarship. Several states have them, and they work like this: a donor gives money to a scholarship organization, then that program issues a scholarship for a student to attend a school, while the government credits some portion of the donation against the donor’s tax bill. In the case of DeVos’s program, the amount would be 100%. If I donate $100,000 to a scholarship organization, I pay $100,000 less in federal taxes.

What Are The Problems With Her Program?

DeVos has been plugging the program with variations of the following quote from Tuesday’s discussion:

“Our Education Freedom Scholarships proposal…doesn’t grow the government bureaucracy one tiny bit…It doesn’t impose any new requirements on states or on families. It doesn’t take a single dollar from public school students, and it doesn’t spend a single dollar of government money. And it doesn’t entangle schools with federal strings or stifling red tape. In fact, it can’t. And that’s by design.”

None of these statements are accurate. The program would certainly not grow the government in a let’s-add-a-whole-new-bureau way, but it would be a government program requiring, at a bare minimum, someone to handle the paperwork. Families would have to apply for the scholarships, and because they would have to deal with the scholarship organization, there would be red tape. …

As for the oft-repeated assertion that this will not “spend a single dollar of government money,” that is technically true (if we ignore the administrative costs). Since the scholarship money will never make it to the government coffers, it will never become “government money.” … It may not spend government money, but it will certainly cost the government money.

There is another issue with tax credit scholarships. … It creates a whole new avenue to make private schools even more private.

Greene offers more in his article. The full piece is worth the read.

Betsy DeVos 2

Betsy DeVos

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

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