This was the equiv­a­lent of a thumbs-up for Ms. DeVos

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Greg Wahl, Wash­ing­ton

The Feb. 9 ed­i­to­rial “Do your home­work, Ms. DeVos” re­stated The Post’s long-stand­ing sup­port for “school choice.” Vouch­ers are ex­treme forms of choice, rout­ing tax­payer money to pri­vate schools, in­clud­ing re­li­gious ones. Let pri­vate schools use money from tu­ition, en­dow­ments and fundrais­ing to spon­sor schol­ar­ships. Pub­lic char­ter schools draw less crit­i­cism, but some refuse to fol­low ba­sic guide­lines that en­sure ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion for stu­dents.

In 2015, The Post cov­ered a re­port de­tail­ing “more than $200 mil­lion of un­cov­ered fraud and waste of tax­payer funds in the char­ter school sec­tor,” with the ac­tual to­tal “im­pos­si­ble to know be­cause there is not suf­fi­cient over­sight over these schools.”

School choice has been a dis­as­ter in Detroit. Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, the pub­lic school sys­tem in New Or­leans was re­placed with char­ter schools that have not suc­ceeded in pre­par­ing stu­dents for col­lege or achiev­ing eq­uity for stu­dents with spe­cial needs.

Char­ter schools and vouch­ers have al­lowed politi­cians to avoid the dif­fi­cult work of re­build­ing ur­ban pub­lic school sys­tems that largely serve black and Latino stu­dents. In­stead, school choice al­lows them to use our chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tions to ped­dle in­flu­ence through crony con­tracts, keep cit­i­zens dis­en­fran­chised, bust unions and pan­der to re­li­gious ex­trem­ists.

Po­lit­i­cal and me­dia ad­vo­cacy for this sys­tem led us to Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos and a to­mor­row with no na­tional pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­vo­cat­ing school choice, the ed­i­to­rial might as well have sung Ms. DeVos’s praises.

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