Landmark school choice law covers 90% of the students in one state
Karma is coming calling for the disgraceful teachers' unions that have kept children from attending school for a year in much of the country. Successfully shaking down the federal government for nine figures' worth of additional funding, they have ignored the science that says young children are at almost no risk from COVID. The cost to children and to the nation is unfathomable, with child suicides soaring and the future ability to function in a complex technological society impaired for a generation of future citizens.
It is my fervent hope that the selfishness, greed, and indifference to the welfare of children of the unions will finally break the monopoly of government school bureaucracies and see parents free to use taxpayer funding for the education of their children at any school of their choice. Let the bloated, inefficient bureaucracies of the government schools compete with focused, efficient private schools — existing and yet to be founded — that are not tied to lowest common denominator standards and not force-feeding left wing hate-America garbage like the 1619 Project.
The first such victory just happened...in West Virginia. And surprise, surprise, there is so far very little media attention. However, Jayne Metzgar of The Federalist covers the big news:
Last week, with very little noise or fanfare, the West Virginia legislature passed the most expansive Education Savings Account program in America. While ESAs in most states are only open to a small percentage of children, the new West Virginia Hope Scholarship will be available to 90 percent of schoolchildren in the state. Every child currently enrolled in public school is eligible, plus those newly aging in.
"It's a game-changer," says Garrett Ballengee of the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy, a conservative think tank and proponent of the bill. "If you add up every single ESA utilizer in the rest of the country, there are only about 20,000 of them. The Hope Scholarship will automatically open it up to ten times that many children in West Virginia alone."
Applicants for the Hope Scholarship will receive 100 percent of their state education dollars — $4,600 annually — in lieu of public schooling. (County and federal funds will remain in the system.) The scholarship is usable for private school tuition, homeschool curriculum, or other education expenses. Gov. Jim Justice, a vocal opponent of ESAs as recently as 2019, has signaled he's likely to sign.
There is an interesting history to the choice battle in West Virginia, which Metzgar covers. Previous efforts at choice legislation had been stymied by the power of unions. But the teachers' unions overplayed their hand, including brief strikes closing down the schools, a tactic that is meaningless during COVID shutdowns.
I've seen estimates that thanks to the school shutdowns, over 11% of families are now homeschooling, more than doubling the previous share of homeschoolers. That's a significant constituency, and now that teachers have lost much of the public affection they had previously enjoyed, an activist base can push for similar laws in other states, starting with the reddest among them.
In addition, in West Virginia, acting locally, parents can organize and demand that local funding going to government schools be made available for choice at private schools. It's going to be hard for local politicians, face-to-face with parents at school board and town council meetings, to defend a monopoly for the teachers who have abandoned the children for a year, despite no scientific reason to do so. Parents forced to give up jobs and turn their lives upside-down to take care of kids no longer in schools are not going to listen to pap about protecting the public schools.
Once that local funding becomes available, watch for a massive defection from the government indoctrination camps, starting in West Virginia. Many of the best teachers would gladly flee the inflexible and arrogant bureaucracies that characterize government school systems, where holders of "doctor of education" (Ed.D. degrees like the one "Dr. Jill Biden" holds) earn large six-figure salaries making rules for the classroom teachers.
Once put on an equal financial footing with the failing government schools, focused, efficient private schools can outperform them on practically every metric.
Free the children from grip of greedy, self-interested government bureaucrats and their union co-conspirators in the destruction of our children's future.
Graphic credit: Karomn Magwood via Pixy.org public domain image.