WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a historic act, the vice president cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as the new education secretary.
Vice President Mike Pence made history February 7, casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm Betsy DeVos as President Trump's Secretary of Education. A primary reason President Trump chose DeVos was also the principle reason why Democrats so staunchly resisted her — she supports the GOP's platform on private schooling and has previously put it into practice.
The Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year hammered out what's been called the "most conservative platform" in history. The section on education reads, "We will continue our fight for school choice until all parents can find good, safe schools for their children." DeVos has spent years making the choice of alternative schooling a reality for low-income parents.
DeVos is a pro-family advocate who opposes LGBT ideology and supports religious liberty. This doesn't set well with many Democrats who openly support abortion, same-sex marriage and are against so-called "discrimination" by those who oppose such immoral activity. But it's her support for public funding of private schools in the form of vouchers that has Democrats and their minions so up in arms.
Parents concerned for the safety or formation of their children are choosing private schools as an alternative to failing public schools. Vouchers allow lower income parents to redirect public funds into an alternative school that would have otherwise gone towards educating their child in the local public school.
Many of these private schools are faith-based which leads some opponents of vouchers to say the system violates separation of church and state. But the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2002 case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris ruled it didn't violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The court upheld Cleveland's voucher plan, saying the government acted for the secular purpose of helping children from low-income families who were attending failing schools. They went on to say that the choice of spending such scholarships on religious schools was the choice of individual families and not the government.
The GOP platform spoke in favor of public funding directed toward religious institutions. "To protect religious liberty, we will ensure that faith-based institutions, especially those that are vital parts of underserved neighborhoods, do not face discrimination by government. ... To advance this process, we urge greater state and local responsibility for and control over public assistance programs."
Other opponents of vouchers say that removing government funding from public schools would harm them when the focus should be on fixing failing public education. But asking parents to leave their children in schools that teach sex education, lack basic discipline and indoctrinate their children in LGBT ideology is a hard sell. Parents asked to pay twice, once for public education in the form of taxes and again in the form of tuition to private schools is likewise a hard sell.
The GOP platform, however, did say that throwing more money at public education was not the answer to fixing its institutional problems:
[T]he Department of Education has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with little substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates. The United States spends an average of more than $12,000 per pupil per year in public schools for a total of more than $620 billion. ... Of that amount, federal spending amounted to more than $57 billion.
In comparison state governments allocated less than $1 billion to private schools by way of vouchers or tax credits in 2011. The GOP points out that more money doesn't equal better performance. "Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free."
They profess their support for alternative education as one way of producing quality education by increased competition and development of teaching methods. "We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning and early-college high schools."
DeVos also shares these ideals and spent many years putting them into practice. She helped develop Indiana's largest-in-the-nation private school voucher program. DeVos was considered a "very active player in building the program in 2011. Trump tapped her for secretary of education not only because she was in agreement with the GOP platform on private education but also because she "got things done."