Democrats Are Throwing Kids Under The Bus

Democrats Are Throwing Kids Under The Bus

By Stephen Moore |

Have you heard the outrageous story of what happened recently in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital? Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.), elected in 2022, had campaigned on school choice for tens of thousands of children, mostly minorities, who are forced to attend failing public schools in places like Philadelphia.

“It’s what I believe,” Shapiro, then state attorney general, assured voters as he ran for governor. Last month on a national Fox News broadcast, Shapiro was unequivocal in his support for school choice because “every child of God” deserves “a quality education.”

But there’s a force far more powerful in politics than Shapiro’s convictions, such as they are. And that force is the teachers unions. They put on a full-court press to stop the roughly 10,000 vouchers for the poorest kids in Pennsylvania’s worst school districts even though the state budget bill gave billions more for the public schools. It didn’t matter that this voucher program comprised less than 0.5% of state spending. The union brass commanded Democrats to vote no on even a single penny going to schools that work.

In the end, Shapiro did a full flip-flop. He vetoed his own promise. He might as well have declared that black lives don’t matter.

Shapiro has presidential ambitions — so he figures he needs the teachers unions behind him. But if he can’t face down Randi Weingarten, how is he ever going to stand up to bullies like China’s President Xi Jinping or Russia’s President Vladimir Putin?

This story isn’t just about Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania. In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in the Tar Heel State because the legislature wanted to fund vouchers for kids to go to the best schools possible. Egads!

In Arizona, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs wants to defund a school choice program that is already serving tens of thousands of kids, most of whom are Hispanic, with proven results of better performance and higher test scores. Why would she kill a program that is working? The teachers unions want the money and the kids under their control.

In New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, charter schools are flourishing. They are alternatives to public schools but are still regulated by the state. They are oversubscribed because parents want to choose the best school for their kids. Now, the Democrats want to put a cap on the charter schools because the teachers unions want to warehouse the kids in public schools where a majority of the kids can’t read or do math at grade-level proficiency. In other words, many of the public schools are worse than mediocre. And it’s not for lack of money. New York spends more than $20,000 per child in public schools.

Did I mention that in nearly every one of these cases across the country, the Democrats blocking private and Catholic school options went to private schools themselves? Or they send their kids to private schools. But poor black kids aren’t allowed that same opportunity? These are hypocrites with a capital H.

There’s a cruel historic irony here. Sixty years ago this summer, Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood before the doors of schools to prevent black children from attending the schools with white children. He was trying to preserve the stain of segregation.

Today, Democrats are employing the same tactic to keep minority kids from attending excellent schools. Why? They say that school choice will hurt public schools or cause more segregation.

Wrong on both counts. Monopolies are always bad for consumers and competition improves service. Education choice requires public schools to compete. Would you get good and friendly service if there were only one restaurant in town?

Instead of draining public schools of money, studies show that per-pupil funding rises when some kids take advantage of vouchers to attend alternative schools. Charter and Catholic schools tend to be, in most cases, more racially diverse than inner-city public schools.

I’m a parent of five boys, so I know that each of my kids has different skills, interests, behavior issues and attention spans. To warehouse them all in the same schoolroom is madness. Schools should be tailored toward the kids and serve their interests — not those of the $1 trillion a year public-school-industrial complex.

More importantly, as an economist, my biggest worry about America’s future is what happens when kids are graduating without being able to read their diplomas and with no useful skills. There are hundreds of schools around the country where not a single child can pass a basic math or reading test.

That’s an economic, civil rights and national security tragedy. Shame on Democratic leaders, and some Republicans, too, for putting their own political ambitions ahead of our nation’s children.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Stephen Moore is a contributor to The Daily Caller News Foundation, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. His latest book is “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy.”

Only Parents Can Solve America’s Education Crisis

Only Parents Can Solve America’s Education Crisis

By Peter Roff |

America is losing faith in its system of free public education. Test scores are down. Violence in schools is up. There’s a growing perception that things are out of control.

What’s odd about it all is how no one, seemingly, is interested in exploring why. State legislators don’t want to do it. Local school boards have other things on their minds. And the press is too busy covering real problems, like Donald Trump’s refusal to return classified documents to the National Archives, to spend any time exploring the reason kids are still being allowed to graduate from public schools without anything close to the mastery they need to get ahead in life.

Occam’s razor, named for its progenitor, 14th-century English philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, suggests the simplest answer is most likely the correct one. This would mean, one can infer, that the plight of our children is the fault of the teachers and administrators who run the schools.

Before continuing it is important to reflect on how teachers, especially, are like Members of Congress. Most voters believe, and have for decades, that while Congress as an institution is corrupt, moribund, and beholden to special interests, their representative is a fine, upstanding individual who is not part of the problem. That is also, the evidence suggests, how parents feel generally about the teachers whose responsibility it is to educate their children.

They too, it is reasonable to suggest, may fall victim to bureaucrats who, in telling them what to teach and how to teach it, end up perverting the process of education until our children’s minds are filled with mush.

Then again, perhaps not. It has been reported – but not as widely as it deserved – that some weeks back the Colorado Education Association, which claims to be the voice of 39,000 public educators in the Centennial State, adopted a resolution condemning capitalism. To wit:

The CEA believes that capitalism inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and resources. Capitalism is in opposition to fully addressing systemic racism (the school-to-prison pipeline), climate change, patriarchy (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality.

It is as alarming as it is illuminating. If most teachers in Colorado or indeed throughout the nation believe this, it becomes quite clear why the education system is failing our children. Those who teach are unable, unwilling, or unprepared to make our children see the world they are being prepared to enter as responsible adults.

Helpfully, and thanks of all things to the unnecessary pandemic-era lockdown of the nation’s schools undertaken at the apparent insistence of teachers’ unions and professional associations, parents have had enough.

There is no way to replace the learning and socialization lost to school closure. Leaders in some states like North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas are heeding the cries for help coming from parents by expanding education savings accounts and reforming the system so that education dollars follow the students rather than fund the systems.

To do this, they are showing great courage. They have taken on “Big Education” and in many places are defeating it by giving parents a role in deciding which school their child will attend.

As a practical matter, that means more and more children will be able to attend schools where Marxist doctrine is not presented as scientific fact, where a greater emphasis is placed on the “Three R’s” than the various ways to avoid pregnancy, and no one is going to be fighting over who gets to use what locker-room to shower and change after an athletic event.

Restructuring public education using free market principles like the supremacy of individual choice will break up the “Big Education” monopoly that is wrecking our children’s futures. Finally, after many years, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Peter Roff is a contributor to The Daily Caller News Foundation. A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, he is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.

Armed Cops in Schools Are Unaffordable and Unnecessary

Armed Cops in Schools Are Unaffordable and Unnecessary

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Americans were outraged to learn of the Nashville school shooting, where a transgender female shot and killed three children and three adults at a Christian school.

As always, a fierce political debate broke out after the murders. Gun control advocates, mostly Democrats, again made impassioned and often vitriolic pleas for more stringent gun laws.

It would be a wonderful world if there were some laws we could pass, some clever strategy to keep criminals from having guns. The big problem is that gun control laws don’t work, much as we might wish otherwise. If they did, Chicago, Baltimore, and other big cities, with their strict gun laws on the books, wouldn’t be the murderous hell-holes that they are.

It’s been pointed out many times, but it’s still true: violent criminals don’t follow the law. The victims are the law-abiding citizens who bring knives to a gun fight.

Conservative commentator Matt Vespa recently wrote a thoughtful column advocating instead for posting “resource officers” in every school. He notes that it took 14 minutes for police to arrive at the Nashville shooting, and that other killers have had even more time before facing significant deterrence.

On the other hand, there are many accounts of officers in schools who were able to prevent potential murders just by being present.

But there’s a problem. There are approximately 115,000 K-12 schools in the U.S., according to Dun and Bradstreet. If we lowball an estimate of $50,000 yearly to support an FTE, that means placing an officer in every school would, according to my back-of-the-napkin calculator, cost at least $5 and $6 billion annually.

That would be a justifiable cost if we were facing an epidemic of school killings, but the numbers tell a different story. Although the especially traumatic nature of school killings and extensive media coverage make the shootings seem commonplace, for the last 35 years, school shooting deaths have hovered around 20–30 per year, less than one for every two states.

From 2010 to 2019, there were 305 incidents involving guns and 207 deaths—or about 20 per year. Arizona, with about 2,700 schools, has had one shooting death ever, in 1987, in addition to four suicides and one accidental death.

For American schools, this computes to an annual average of one shooting death for every 4,000 schools. Full-time school resource officers would, over the course of a career, have an infinitesimal chance of preventing even one shooting.

Throwing money at a problem without a sober cost-benefit analysis, however passionately we may feel about it, seldom works out. A more practical solution would be to authorize one or more teachers per school to carry concealed weapons.

These teachers would be volunteers who are licensed carriers and would undergo additional training in the very focused area (confronting an armed criminal in a school setting) that their duty might entail. They would receive a modest stipend.

Would recruiting be a problem? I like to think there are enough teacher-heroes with a heart for their students who would be willing and up to the task if called upon. Remember, it has often been teachers who answered the call when peace officers cowered in emergency situations, as in Uvalde and Parkland.

Moreover, the deterrent effect of armed teachers would be inarguable. Schools would be changed from soft targets with idiotic “Gun Free Zone” signs into places where criminals with bad intentions would know they were risking their lives by entering.

Unfortunately, the teachers’ unions have pitched a fit. Their purported worries include the safety of their members, the qualifications of the volunteers, and the image of teachers involved with violence.

Their arguments are easily rebuffed, remembering that no solution is perfect, and the point is to pick the best available. But the unions are powerful, tough competitors in public debate, even when the facts and arguments are against them, as when the schools were shut down during COVID on their demand.

Wasting a few more billion in a nation over $30 trillion in debt may not seem like much, but we have to start somewhere. Let’s believe in our educators and look to American resilience and resourcefulness to protect our children.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

What Were We Thinking Allowing Government Workers to Unionize?

What Were We Thinking Allowing Government Workers to Unionize?

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

It’s not exactly breaking news that America’s public schools are failing academically.

There have been encouraging stories of charter schools and other schools of choice successfully raising achievement levels for underprivileged students previously deemed uneducable.

But our schools are still producing a generation of students lacking basic computational or literacy skills, much less an understanding of government, culture, or science. That is, unless you count gender ideology and slanted anti-American interpretations of history.

Twenty-three public schools in Baltimore this year had zero students rated proficient in math and several more had only one or two. Baltimore spends $21,000 per student yearly, but it’s unfair to pick on Baltimore. Neither its spending levels nor the dreadful outcomes distinguish it from many other urban school districts.

Many Americans are aware and concerned. We even know a lot about what works (school level control and accountability) and what doesn’t (more money, more administrators). Yet at every turn, efforts at system reform have been stymied by…teachers’ unions.

Until the 20th century, Americans would have been astonished to see a critical policy debate dominated by a public union. Such unions didn’t even exist until President Kennedy approved collective bargaining for federal employees in 1962. Until then, union bosses and government leaders had been skeptical of the notion.

Franklin Roosevelt said, “The process of collective bargaining…cannot be translated into public service.” AFL – CIO President George Meany agreed that “it is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

They were saying that true collective bargaining is a two-way negotiation to divide the profits generated by an enterprise, in which unions must limit their demands so their companies remain viable.

But as Philip Howard explains in his new book on public unions, government by design doesn’t generate any profit. Any concessions made to government unions come at the expense of taxpayers, who are seldom represented in the negotiations.

After decades of “negotiating” with friendly politicians whom they help elect, government employees have gained immense wealth and influence. It hasn’t turned out so well for the rest of us.

For example, government unions were effectively able to dictate health policy, including shutdowns and mandates, during COVID, as CDC e-mails subsequently revealed.

Worse, teachers’ unions demands that public schools close and stay closed during COVID prevailed despite overwhelming evidence that it was unhelpful. Millions of students will endure permanent educational scars from the union intransigence.

Union participation in policy making goes far beyond healthcare. Government unions work hard and successfully to boost virtually all tax and spend proposals, especially at the state and local levels. After all, tax revenues pay their salaries.

Unions have also been successful in thwarting the growth of charter schools in the three decades of their existence. This is a particularly impressive display of raw political power since charter schools have proven themselves many times over to be academic successes serving those students who need it most.

Moreover, there is no coherent argument that charter schools harm public schools because they are public schools, albeit usually without mandatory unionization, but still with long waiting lists.

Union workers are notoriously difficult to fire, thanks to the work rules they write for themselves. California is able to terminate only about one of each 100,000 teachers annually for poor performance. Derek Chauvin, the murderer of George Floyd, was a known bad cop with multiple citizens’ complaints, but was protected by union work rules from losing his job.

All these instances and many more are the result of unions essentially dictating the terms of their employment. Citizens’ interests are secondary. Government has been rendered nearly inoperable for everyday Americans.

Although government unions seem to have a vice-like hold on their privileges, there may be a solution this time. Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution requires that every state “shall be guaranteed a republican form of government,” meaning that policy decisions can be made only by elected officials and may not be delegated.

State and local officials must reclaim their authority either by challenging union-made policies in courts or simply by refusing to comply with them on constitutional grounds.

The framers of the Constitution would be honored if we used their great gift to make government work again.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Katie Hobbs Prepares to Undo School Choice, Appoints Teachers’ Union Lobbyists

Katie Hobbs Prepares to Undo School Choice, Appoints Teachers’ Union Lobbyists

By Corinne Murdock |

Governor-elect Katie Hobbs reaffirmed that she will hold to her campaign promise to abolish Arizona’s universal school choice program.

Hobbs issued the remarks last week in an interview with Arizona PBS, about two weeks after appointing two longtime teachers’ union lobbyists to her transition team. Marisol Garcia is a longtime lobbyist for and the current president of the Arizona Education Association (AEA); Stephanie Parra was a former lobbyist for the AEA, is a registered lobbyist for her nonprofit “All in Education,” and serves as a Phoenix Union High School District board member.

“I can tell you that the voucher scheme that we have set up is going to end up as an Alt-Fuels 2.0,” stated Hobbs. “It’s going to bust our budget. We can’t afford to do more.”

In a video shared within an AEA meeting reviewing the upcoming legislative session on Wednesday, Hobbs pledged to be the biggest ally of public schools in the state’s history.

“I’m ready to get to work as the most pro-public education governor in Arizona,” said Hobbs.

Garcia expressed confidence that Hobbs would be an ally to their teachers’ union. She also said that she and the AEA were completely against the state’s school choice program, the Empowerment Savings Account (ESA) Program.

“We have always been against any sort of vouchers, not just expansion but vouchers in essence,” said Garcia. 

In September, Garcia stated that it wasn’t possible to support both public schools and private schools when it comes to funding.

“Funding AZ public schools & then being pro private schools vouchers is hypocritical,” wrote Garcia. “Union members have ALWAYS been against vouchers. They hurt our communities & funnel tax payer $ to private companies.”

Hobbs has been forthright about her opposition to universal school choice. Her education plan published through her campaign revealed that she would scale back the program to bolster public school funding. 

Hobbs declared that universal school choice was an “attack” on public schools, reflecting an intent to eventually “do away with” them. Hobbs also claimed that the ESA Program lacked any accountability and oversight. 

About 32,000 children applied for the ESA Program, according to the Arizona Department of Education. Students may qualify for up to $6,500 each — totaling about $208 million.

Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ), an activist group opposed to universal ESAs, attempted to reverse the universalization through a ballot measure. In September, SOSAZ overreported its signature count to qualify for the ballot — something hawkeyed pro-school choice parents discovered immediately. However, Hobbs delayed counting the signatures for about five days

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to