On this special edition of The Editors, Rich is joined by AFC president John Schilling to discuss school choice in America.
The Editors is hosted by Rich Lowry and produced by Sarah Schutte.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What is the future of school Joyce? How popular Is it? And what can we learn from the experience of in IRAN to Santas of Florida will discuss all this and more, and this special sponsored edition the editors you listening to a national view. Podcasting today we speaking exclusively to John Shilling, present of a sea, the American federation. For children are regularly scheduled. Podcasting will resume with our next episode. So, let's start with the most basic question: tell people what c is what it does
So here is the nation, the largest school choice, advocacy organisation, and we work in fifteen to eighteen states each year to try to expand educational opportunity for fair It is in. Our mission is pretty simple in a we are in business to help as many families and students get access of school of their choice. As possible. We believe it's urgent and in a we believe that this is a right mission. We think we got a lotta momentum around the country and in this you guys fair, a kind of all the above options, charters, vouchers whatever it is. That gives parents were option set. Absolutely I mean a lot of our resources are focused on private school choice because that's where they are needed most, but our basic philosophy as we build, but every family, regardless of income or zip code, should be able to choose the best.
Educational environment that works for their child, unique aids. So where what has been the key of the growth in this area has just as an amateur following from a distance, it seems like a lie. The actions been round a charters and a charter sector, but his private school Choice also continued to grow, whereas that at your oddly wretch private school choice has actually grown faster as a percentage than charters have over the last, ten years or so so today there are twenty six states plus border. You go in the District of Columbia that are educated, around five hundred and thirty thousand students in the mood It has literally doubled in the last ten years or so we feel like we ve got a lot of momentum. So, let's dive into specifics, including this Trump Administration proposal for education, freedom, scholarships. What would they
be so educating freedom. Scholarships is about the boldest federal proposal that has come about. Certainly, since Lamar Alexander introduced US scholarships for kids five years ago and education, freedom, scholarships, the basic concept is corporate and individual donors would make a contribution to an inch. Nonprofit scholarship, granting organization. That organisation would provide a scholarship so that a family to use those funds for a variety of views, so it could be transportation, tutoring special needs services private school tuition? Not a federal programme very important, because states would volunteered participate, they can choose to participate or they could choose not to participate, but as an opportunity to really place the power in the hands of families and allow them to determine the best use of those funds? So what what's the actual?
change here says not a federal programme white. Why can't someone go and do this now? This create additional incentives to do that, or are there obstacles to to the sort of action yeah sovereign exiting the the obstacles to the action, would be the teachers unions led education, savage man and the politicians that they support the incentive here for the corporate and individual donors, they get a federal tax credit, how two percent tax credit, so they make the contribution to the institute nonprofit they get a federal tax credit. The in state, not offered hands these scholarship to the child and I might add one of the other things that interesting about this. Not only that a variety of uses, the bills currently in Congress would also allow families to use this for apprenticeships, which we, which we believe is very interesting to A small businesses in America, including trusting to a lotta labour unions in America and we are hopeful
that over time will be able to support- and maybe get some support from celebrity in on this, and would do these nonprofit sort exists in each state or they be created expressly for this purpose or it states could use both her. How would it practical matter so de both there are eighteen states that currently have tax credits, scholarship programmes, that are administered by scholarship granting organizations. In some states you have a single scholarship granting organisation and other states. You have multiple scholarship grant organizations, so once a state decided that they would participate, the scholarship granting organisation, would say to the state, hey we'd like to participate in this and then they'd be in and the mecca Some for how parents are selected further scholarships is that left to the states or their federal guidelines for that how that were totally leftovers.
It's the states will decide what the eligibility is. The state decide the rules for the eschew owes. The only federal requirement is that ninety percent of the funds have to be used for scholarships we're gonna have half the money going to administrative expenses. Ninety percent of funds has to be used for scholarships and so on what grounds do the opponents of this proposal? What what grounds sedate they criticise it on that? Could it doesn't seem to be starving the public schools, the way to say about everything else right right. It's actually additive rights are actually here that this is a magnet. To actually put more money into America's K. Twelve system, so they oppose. Naturally they have character, I see this as a privatisation programme, even though a private school to wish,
Two issues is one one among many possible uses for this, but that's how they fried characteristics. Betsy devices voucher programme, which is which is patently false, as I said, there's multiple uses for this and ultimately the decision is up to the family, determine what what what you said. For their child and then it is the expectation. There'd be a lot of interest among various entities to contribute to these nonprofits just cause it's an educational initiative and in their lot of of blood and she's an individual's out there who are interested in promoting choice. Yeah, absolutely the eighteen scholarship technocrats, culture programmes around the country attract a whole lot of donors to it, and corporate and individual donors believed that this is a great way to contribute money, do a non profit and ultimately have it's a crew, the benefit of individual students em in there are alot of folks out there who who just believe in
our families to make these choices for their kids, so the way to the polling on the issue of scope sculptures generally, it's very robust one walk through those now birth and to the natural follow on is. If this is in a sixty. Seventy percent issue, why is it always betrayed, is as something that's controversial? Radioactive yeah sought a second part. First, it's only controversial for the union's the education establishments and the policymakers that they supports, because it it represents change, represents taking fund out of the hands of the government to decide what to do with them in an and placing the power into the hands of families. That does not. That does not grow union membership and that's what an huge reason the union doesn't like
the polling on this frankly could not be better, and we are we re. We participate in a real, clear politics, paw and it showed Sixty nine percent support for the concept of school choice, seventy percent support for tax, red scholarships and them, and sixty eight percent support.
For families indicating that they would choose something other than a government school for their child education and what's interest here is that you know the support is not limited to one segment of our population. The support spreads across ideological and demographic lines, and almost you know, based on the polling Messina, two thousand nineteen. You have the highest levels of support among African Americans Latinos an millennials, and this should be message to both republican policymakers. In particular to democratic policymakers, because you know of those groups represent a significant part of the voting population and support is overwhelming So we saw a real concrete on the ground example of political potency of this issue in last year's Florio, given it
Your election were somewhat unexpectedly wish for a lot of people, Rhonda Santas wines, that election champion this issue talk talk a little bit about how that worked. Yes, It's for some reason the state afford a really likes close gubernatorial. So three at the last aerial accolades close presidential elections attic close presidential election. We now want to bring up the word Chad, but back in two thousand and ten other very selection in Iraq? Scott got six per cent of the african american vote in two thousand,
Fourteen we ran for electing its Charlie Crest. The union's had launched law suit to kill the Florida tax Red Scholarship Programme serving at the time around. Eighty thousand kids were low income families. A Rick Scott was very deliberate about going out in saying I support families. I stand with families. Charlie Crest was equally deliberate and saying hey. We're gonna were organ, eliminate this programme. I support this lawsuit. Rick's got went from gettin six per cent of the african american vote to getting almost twelve percent. The african american firms in last year's gubernatorial election Rhonda Santa's was unapologetic about his support for these programmes. Unapologetic about his support for all options for kids campaigned on it. He said he was gonna, not only defend the programmes, he was gonna. Try to expand to make more more students eligible. His opponent, Andrew Gill, em said that he wanted to bring the tax credits scholarship programme to a conclusion so differently.
In the two of them could not have been more clear and according to exit polls from CNN Santas ended up getting Ten percent of the african american female vote there were a lot of reasons at Rhonda Santa's one, but when you went by thirty something thousand votes, everything matters every vote counts and I think his support for school choice was was crucial. Santos not only campaigned on it when he became governor, he acted on it. He did exactly what he said he was going to do. Any enacted a new voucher programme would help the Ford a legislature and he's gonna get thousands. Off the waiting list and under these programmes. So what states and localities had the most successful school choice prop up programme thordis at the top or near the top it. At this rate, the floor is clearly at the top very successful programme. If you, if you talk about both charter schools and private choice, Perkins and Florida, yet about four hundred thousand
it's that are benefiting from this, but Arizona has been remarkably well, particularly under the leadership of Doug, do see governor do see just another example of how this works politically you know last year, when do she ran for reelection deuce? He got forty four percent of latina folk and do so before going to tell you a lot of the parlour reason. I got forty percent forty four percent latino vote is because I'm for school choice and I went and told everybody was going choice. So this is an important lesson for Republicans. If you want to broaden the ten, if you want to begin to reach non traditional constituencies, that typically are not with you. This is your bridge and you can look at exam.
Both like two centres in Florida like do see in Arizona, Miss Daniels did this in Indiana Job Bush did this in Florida. This is a great way to broaden the tent and for Democrats. Quite honestly, this is a missed opportunity for them. There was a group others, a group called Democrats for education reform. They went up to some polling of democratic primary voters this year in what they discover. It was big majorities of African Americans Latinos young people who are hugely in favour of this, who is opposed to it, upper middle class and wealthy white voters. So what? What are the leading Democrats saying about school choice? What where their proposals? Will they don't have any proposals to expand schools eyes, and regrettably, all of the Democrats, I think safer MIKE Bloomberg
are moving away from even the Obama legacy on educational choice. President Obama and Secretary Duncan, actually pretty good on charter schools, and they felt like this was a pretty good option for families. And they did a nice job in trying to increase federal funding for charter schools. The current cropper presidential candidate, starting with Elizabeth, worn Bernie Sanders both them when it will. A federal funding for charter schools, so they're not allayed, running away and private choices off the table. All together, that's a great big privatisation. I, for this terrible, topical but even running away from charter schools, and that is now I'm afraid has become a litmus test thanks to the the oversized influence of the national teachers unions. So where's court Booker on this now, because he is a great champion of charter schools when his mare,
yeah Corey worker was not only a great champion of charter schools when he was mare. Corey worker was also supporter of all options for children at one time he was a co sponsor of the DC opportunity, scholarship Programme, but he has his support, for options for kids seems to have faded as his presidential campaign began, which has really, which is really quite distressing, because Corey Barker was what was a great messenger for these issues and he and he would tie passionately about how it was necessary to ensure that every child, regardless of where they grew up, what family came from deserved access to it, educational environment and inexplicably when he became a presidential candidate, he just took IRAN and its a variant So about the issue of hypocrisy, which came up recently,
an absurd with those with war and where she's, confronted by a woman who says, look you too, you don't sport choice, but you touched your your child to private close nodded and that it cannot that, yes, she did at least one of her children. For at least a period of time. So what? What? What? Should we make of this discordance between how alive, liberal and progressive politicians act in when when they take the opportunity to have different choices in terms of education? But they want to deny it to others, as matter pulse yeah, it's almost as if their their plan is to hope. Nobody notices right, because you have numerous examples of you. No good, bye, good, a good number of the presidential candidates, either wench private schools themselves or sent
kids to private schools, and you know it I'd like to throw the surround casually, but its frankly, the latest point of view that I should be able to have this option, but those who are less fortunate should not, I think, there's a moral problem with that? And you know for somebody Like Elizabeth Warren, who, at one time in one of her books, actually spoke favourably about vouchers. So before she being politician, and I think unfortunate again, due to the oversized influence of the union and in democratic primaries. I think all these candidates as feel compelled to turn a toe the line, but it will be interesting because, as I said earlier, based on the appalling you have such a huge swathes of the traditional democratic constituency, that is for this
How can they ignore that? How can I keep ignoring in the union opposition? You see it as just simple matter, and overall mainly a matter of just knowing what side of the bread is buttered for them and unjust, sheer membership numbers and resources that imperative comes comes with a year for the union, its entirely about membership. You know they took a little bit of a hit with Janis decision, and I you know It really is about membership, and so if, in fact, I was at eight, I was at a Manhattan instead breakfast this morning, and somebody asked the question if, if, if private choice advocates became ad the kids, are the union icing private schools? Would you then feel like there would be opportunity to work with the union. Well, I imagine the answer
bs. Wouldn't it right that takes away the autonomy of those private schools Riah. So so what tell us? What the kind of current state the best research is on practical choice the charter is again. I've dealt most recently arose. Call about charters not to long ago and it's a mixed is a mixed picture. He hasn't charges are really bad. Online tartars are a disaster, but then you have the best performer charters in the big underperforming cities work where they most really needed, is an accurate description of the stay, the research
charters and what is it with private school to us? So one of the things that very clear about the research is despite what opponents have been saying for the last thirty years. The existence of choice, whether its charter, schools or private schools is not going to destroy traditional public schools. Ok at system is an indisputable fact. There's been a lot of great research on charter schools at indicates that children who are attending charter schools are Performing their traditional public school peers on the private choice side, there has been an abundance of research over the last twenty years, or so that have indicated that if you are a child at sports enough to participate in a private choice,
program. You are more likely to graduate from high school and going to college, in fact, in the floor attacks Red Scholarship Programme, which is the largest tax fraud, scholarship programme and the country over a hundred thousand kids. If you are in that program for four years or more of you are up to ninety nine percent, more likely to go on to college and you're up to fifty six percent more likely during a bachelor's degree, So so the research on this has been very, very good, and it really does make it much more difficult for detractors to say that it's not working,
now what everybody does when it comes to education, research. Everybody likes to cherry pick, some unease right, but the one thing that the can't argue with is the the performance of the children who are participating the schools there. Graduation rates are higher in there and roman college is higher than their traditional public school counterparts. So desolate. Let me in the time I have left lately, throw at you some arguments we commonly here from from the at the other side. Need you take it take swing at them, so it we're addresses a little bit with education, a scholarship proposal at the top, but just more broadly, the idea that the starving public education of resources, these sort of programmes- I ought, at the end of the day, who generates the funding right. It's the student who generates the funding, and there is a suggestion that if you have a private,
choice programme in a particular state that the existence of that programme suddenly means that led to the programme is fifty million dollar programme. There's a sum. And on the part of the other side, that that would all that that would be fifty million dollars at the state will. But of course it dedicated to took traditional public schools- that's not true, and what you find is that most states- and I'm not sure I came up with the average- is the average public school student is about its probably over ten thousand dollars per child. Now so in in a typical private choice, scholarship programme, the cost is, is really anywhere from sixty thousand dollars. So not only is it not starving the public system of money, it is actually educating the child and a better
way for less, which is creating ultimately more money for the public system and then habit the related argument that you just leaving the most desperate kids behind, because parents maybe photo wherewithal more plus. Then not as harried have time to apply for a charter. School or access is tuition credits, but kids, who parents for whatever reason there there are left behind and at us in a school that is in a more desperate shape because he must engage, parents are taken their their kids elsewhere. So this is this was an old Arnie Duncan argument for why he did not support the DC voucher programme? Well, if it, if it can't help every kid than we just shouldn't, have it what a terrible arguments
and the reality is. If you look at the population of kids who are going to charter schools by three point: two million kids, who are charter schools about five hundred thirty thirty thousand kids were in private school choice for on the private choice side that eighty percent of these kids are from lower income. What's, and we know this because their means tested programmes, so the idea that these programmes, whether its charters or that private schools are sort of in a creaming at the top tear, and then public schools we're getting the rest. This is patently falls the percentage of lower income kids, who are in charge of schools and to end and private school choice. Programmes is higher than what exists in China, public schools and then about the argument that we just need: pave public school teachers, more
an example of a fifty million dollar choice program. Just I know you said you know it doesn't that's what I missed means going to go to education at that money is not created to the choice programme. But in theory, why not just use that fifty I in any marginal money to pay the teachers in the system, thus always in the foreseeable future, gonna be teaching that the bulk of our children. So I am all in favour painting more money. He had twenty years ago, when I was working in the Arizona State Department of Education working for the elected states from written about the construction she came out with this, radical idea that we should pay master teachers on one thousand dollars a year. We asked him to stay. We ask we tell Matt to work eleven months out of the year and we tell him that the mentor other teachers
Union went crazy as a terrible idea. This global out to tender system- it's awful terrible, so I am all for paying teachers more Monday. I think that's great, I think choice and the quality of teaching or are the two things are actually essential to making our students competitive in the twenty first century. But the idea that you should deny families the opportunity to choose the best educational environment for their children is simply it is simply unjust and I mean to point to one school district in America: the Miami Date School district, incredibly diverse school district. It is the highest performing
in school district on the national assessment of educational progress, and this is a district where seventy percent of the students are attending school other than the one they were zone for, and they are not in it out of the park, and part of that, frankly, is leadership from their superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who has embraced choice as a you know what this is good for our kids and you know what the result prove it and a final related criticism. We just need better student teacher ratios in public schools. Naturally, a focus. So this has long been an argument on the part of the other side. If we just had smaller class sizes- frankly wretch, I think that's code, for if you just gave us better kids, we produce a better result. I don't like that argument. I think it's, I think. That's a horrible argument, I think
We have seen whether it's for charter schools or private school choice programs you find out schools that have very high concentrations of difficult to teach? Kids? In the end, there doing a great job- and I went on to say this- there are tens of thousands of our standing traditional public school teachers outstanding, and I think if the system did a better job of actually recognising mad and rewarding that's in helping those teachers, the train, other teachers to create more teachers like them. The whole system would improve and just couple final questions, so just in the broadest to cheat gauge. Where is this fight?
for choice and more options going. Are you optimistic about it? I am hugely optimistic about it because at the end of the day, the policymakers will heed the call of voters, and by any measure. As I said across the ideological and demographic spectrum, voters are overwhelmingly in favour of this and that will eventually influenced the policymakers. So I feel very optimistic about this. I would to see the President get out there and talk about this more. It is a clear issue of distinction between the president and his democratic opponents and for Republicans, as I said, it's a great bridge to reach constituencies that typically do not vote for them and, frankly I'm a graduate of missed opportunity. So, in conclusion, how do people learn more about it? S see how did they get engaged in and what you do? If there's some Clyde, they can go to
He had every w dot federation for children, dot. Org. Thank very much like to be with us. Thank you, rich, well that, set for us, you been listening to a special sponsored edition of the editors, has pod, guess it and produced by the incomparable, Sir shitty it makes a sound better than we deserve. Thank you. John thanks are one for listening. We are the editors and we'll see. With our regularly scheduled podcasting next.
Transcript generated on 2019-12-19.