This is a healthcare blog and normally I stick to keeping you up to date on issues that concern our healthcare system. Today I diverge from that usual format to make a point that deserves your attention.
In this country where we all aspire to the “American Dream”, some have more opportunity than others. The family you were born into, the financial stability of your home, where you live, and yes, the color of your skin, can all have dramatic impact on your ability to achieve your dreams. But what makes America great is the belief that even if you got shortchanged on some of these advantages you can still succeed with hard work, determination, and perseverance.
The key for success, no matter what your socioeconomic status, is education. A good education is the most valuable tool for achieving your goals unless you can play football like Tom Brady or basketball like Lebron James. Since most children aren’t blessed with those athletic skills, education is the way out of poverty.
Our modern world is driven by high technology and the good paying jobs of today and the future demand higher education and training than the agricultural and manufacturing jobs of the past century. This puts an even greater importance on children getting a good education so they can compete in the jobs marketplace.
The least we can do for every child in our country is offer them the chance to get a good education. For most of us, the public schools provided that education. But anyone who has kept up with the changing times in this country in the last fifty years knows that many public schools are failing to provide the education children need.
Throwing more money at the problem hasn’t worked. No public school system spends more money than the District of Columbia ($29,349 per child) and yet 83% of those children are not proficient in reading and 81% are not proficient in math according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Though many are graduated, all too few have gained the education skills necessary to get a good job.
The DeVos Nomination
That brings me to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Mrs. Devos is a billionaire through marriage into the AmWay fortune. Instead of sitting back enjoying her wealth at leisure, she has dedicated her life to helping those children less fortunate than she to achieve their goals through a good education.
She has given millions of dollars of her own money in support of this goal and countless hours of her own time. She isn’t doing this for her children – she can afford to send them to the best schools money can buy! She’s spending her time and money helping poor minority children get a good education, too.
The Democratic Party likes to portray itself as the party of the little guy, the oppressed, the poor and those in the minority. These are precisely the people who need a good education to pull themselves up and escape the cycle of generational poverty that has tied them down for years. Therefore you would expect Democrats to favor school choice to give these impoverished people the best education possible. You would expect them to welcome a champion of school choice like Betsy DeVos who wants to give these poor children a chance for a better life.
Sadly, you would be wrong. Not a single Democrat in the Senate voted for the nomination of Betsy DeVos.
The reason is Democrats are supported by the teachers’ unions – and the unions hate school choice because it threatens their power and livelihood. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are two of the most powerful and wealthy unions that support Democratic candidates nationwide. Democratic politicians walk the line of union orthodoxy in exchange for union dollars that support their candidacy.
No Democratic Senator is guiltier of hypocrisy than Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). The Wall Street Journal editorial board excoriated Booker after the vote. For those of you who don’t read WSJ, let me share with you their words:
“This sorry politics means that no Democrat could dare support Mrs. DeVos, even if it meant a humiliating about-face like the one performed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. As the mayor of Newark, Mr. Booker supported more school choice and he even sat on the board of an organization that would become the American Federation for Children (AFC), the school reform outfit chaired by Mrs. DeVos.”
“As recently as May 2016, Mr. Booker delivered an impassioned speech at the AFC’s annual policy summit in Washington. He boasted about how Newark had been named by the Brookings Institution “the number four city in the country for offering parents real school choice.”
He described the school-choice cause this way: ”We are the last generation, fighting the last big battle to make true on that – that a child born anywhere in America, from any parents, a child no matter what their race or religion or socio-economic status should have that pathway, should have that equal opportunity, and there is nothing more fundamental to that than education. That is the great liberation.”
Senator Booker voted no on the Betsy DeVos nomination.
The explanation is simple, if heartbreaking. Booker is looking to run for president in the 2020 election and he believes he needs the union support to win nomination. In other words he has thrown the children of our country under the bus in favor of his political aspirations.
Betsy DeVos won nomination by a 51-50 vote without a single Democrat in support of her school choice agenda. The Democratic Party has betrayed its constituency. It’s time those constituents wake up to the way their party has neglected their interests in favor of political ambitions.
President Trump told the people of heavily Democratic Detroit during his campaign they should support his candidacy. Trump said, “What have you got to lose?” Perhaps they should lose a political party that has abandoned them and gain one that is fighting for the education and jobs their children will need to succeed in the future.