Guest column: Betsy DeVos recognizes states know best on education


News: Confirmation Hearing

It is difficult to think of a nominee for Secretary of Education who is more interested in the education of our nation’s children, in particular children coming from disadvantaged families, than Betsy DeVos. She has dedicated much of her life to improving educational opportunities for all children.

One mechanism she has chosen to advance the education of our least fortunate is to pursue the cause of creating competition in K-12 education, through both charter schools and through vouchers that would allow disadvantaged children to attend private schools.

I was on the State Board of Education in Michigan for six years and never found a greater friend of Michigan’s children. She understands that there is a difference between government provision of education and government production of education. Government production of education will be done through the political process — it must, since the schools are run by the government. But how can the government know better than parents what will be the best education for our children?

As an economist, I understand that people will respond to incentives. While Adam Smith said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the baker or the brewer that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest,” he did not say you would never find a benevolent butcher.  One can find great public schools run by great principals and fantastic teachers, but these exist because of the benevolence of those involved. It would be ludicrous to expect the entire system to operate by benevolence.

Betsy also understands that the 10th Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or the people.”  The power to decide the system by which our children are educated belongs to the states, not the federal government. This is something she has made clear.

Some of those opposed to her nomination don’t seem to be concerned with whether the education of fourth graders in the city of Detroit will be improved with her policies, but rather whether “for-profit” firms will be involved in the students’ education. It is interesting that those with such worries are not concerned with the fact that their food supply is produced by “for-profit” farmers, or that their health care is trusted to “for-profit” doctors. What is really at issue is whether the children will be taught by teachers who are unionized, since often private schools and charter schools are not heavily unionized.

Betsy DeVos can lead the country’s education system to a place where all children, rich and poor, will be able enjoy the benefits of a quality education.

[Source:-Detroit Free Press]