Letters to the Editor

Involvement key to improve schools

The Dec. 13 CDT opinion page featured a “debate” over the wisdom of Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. Although there may be some unlikely case for supporting DeVos’s selection, Lindsey Burke, of the Heritage Foundation, did not make it.

She overstated the success of the Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers for lower-income children to attend private schools, calling it “wildly successful,” despite overwhelming opposition by D.C. voters and a Department of Education study that found its effects on achievement to be inconclusive. She also overstated the Obama administration’s opposition to the program. Indeed, President Barack Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been quite supportive of charter schools and no particular friend to teachers unions himself. There is no great need for a change in course away from Obama’s policies toward the direction of greater parental choice.

If DeVos had any expertise at all in education, she would understand that one of the things that can best improve schools is active and committed parental involvement. Encouraging parents to abandon ship, to remove their kids from a school system, does nothing to encourage it to improve. We don’t encourage people to move to another city, state or country if they don’t like what their politicians are doing. We encourage them to stay and work for change.

Schools should not be treated like cellphone service providers, to be joined or abandoned on a whim depending on their prices and features.

Ned Balzer, Lemont

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