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WSJ: The School-Choice Election Wave

by Corey DeAngelis

Even Democrats are adapting to new political realities.

There may not have been a red wave or a blue wave, but there was a nationwide school-choice wave.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the biggest victory of the night for parents. In 2018 William Mattox of the James Madison Institute argued in these pages that “unexpected support from minority women,” whom he dubbed “school-choice moms,” accounted for his narrow victory that year. On Tuesday Mr. DeSantis won by more than 19 points overall and by 11 points in Miami-Dade, a county that favored Joe Biden by 7 points in 2020.

About three-fourths of Miami-Dade students are enrolled in choice programs, but Democrat Charlie Crist foolishly went all in for the public-school monopoly and picked the president of Miami’s United Teachers of Dade as his running mate.

Mr. DeSantis outperformed Mr. Crist by 13 points with Latino voters, according to exit polls (Mr. Biden won the Florida Latino vote by 7 in 2020), and 38% of students using the state’s largest private-school choice program are Hispanic. All six school-board candidates endorsed by Mr. DeSantis won their runoffs Tuesday. In all, 24 of 30 candidates he endorsed won this year.

Florida wasn’t the only bright spot. As this is written, 76% of candidates supported by my organization appear to have won. Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Bill Lee of Tennessee and Greg Abbott of Texas all blew out their opponents after making school choice a centerpiece of their campaigns.

Mr. Stitt faced a barrage of attacks from dark-money groups for his support for school choice, yet he won by nearly 14 points—a margin larger than his 2018 win. As the Oklahoman newspaper noted, his Democratic opponent, Joy Hofmeister, “made opposition to vouchers a central part of her campaign, claiming it would be a ‘rural school killer.’ ” Ryan Walters, elected Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction by more than 13 points, said on election night that “we are going to do more than any other state in the country to empower parents.”

Unlike Mr. Crist, some Democrats learned something from Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 victory in Virginia. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois both endorsed private-school choice less than two months before the election and came out victorious. Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York also won after she publicly supported—for the first time—eliminating the cap on New York City charter schools.

Skeptics have noted in these pages that these Democrats flipped on school choice for political expediency. Does it matter? If candidates for governor who were already up in the polls felt compelled to switch their stances on school choice right before the election, that’s good news regardless of their motives, and voters should hold them to account for their new positions.

After Tuesday night, it’s clear that for both parties, it is now becoming politically profitable to support education freedom. That’s because parents have woken up. For far too long in K-12 education, the only groups that commanded politicians’ attention were unions representing the employees in the system. Now the kids have a union of their own: their parents.

Mr. DeAngelis is a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children. Source: Wall Street Journal

Educational Choice as a Life or Death Matter

The greatest moral urgency in K12 education today is the public health catastrophe of adolescence. While here I will focus on the shocking negative outcomes of our current system, the real goal is to shift to an educational system that will reliably produce confident, capable, resilient young people who can succeed in the 21st century economy.

The solution to both the need to address the public health catastrophe as well as to accelerate social mobility and purpose-driven lives is to allow parents and students to seek more personalized and humane educational environments in which teens flourish. Arizona’s recent universal Educational Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) provide parents with the greatest range of such choices.

Read the full article from Michael Strong here.

Abbott and O’Rourke Clash on School Choice

As the gubernatorial election heats up, school choice continues to be a hot-topic issue among voters.

As the gubernatorial race heads into the final stretch and the Texas GOP has made school choice a legislative priority, Texas voters have made it clear that they support parental rights in education.

According to a September poll from Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, 60 percent of Texas voters support school choice, while only 28 percent were opposed.

The school choice system would allow parents to be directly involved in their children’s education and allow them to receive state funding to help enroll their children in the schools they believe best fit their needs.

Recently passed legislation in Arizona, for example, allows families to receive up to $7,000 per child.

Read the full article from Texas Scorecard here.

North Texas School District Promotes LGBT Group Offering ‘Queer Sex Ed’ Lessons

“We intend to teach queer youth sex ed and give them the tools to go out into the world and educate others and advocate for themselves.”

As school districts across the state come under fire for indoctrinating students with transgender theory and divisive racial policies, Lewisville Independent School District, located near Dallas, is promoting “Queer Sex Ed” to children.

Last week Libs of TikTok—a Twitter account that routinely exposes the sexualization and indoctrination of children—shared screenshots from Lewisville ISD’s Counseling Services page, which included links to LGBT organizations PFLAG and Youth First Texas.

Although the school district removed direct links to these sites, they still list both organizations as resources for “LGBTQ” students.

Youth First Texas, an offshoot of Resource Center Dallas, is “one of the only LGBTQIA+-focused programs in North Texas that addresses the challenges LGBTQIA+ teens face at home, school and in the community.” The group offers a weekly Queer Identity Night where children ages 12 to 18 meet with “transgender adult mentors.”

Read the full article from Texas Scorecard

Democrat Josh Shapiro Defects on School Choice

Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial nominee puts parents over teachers unions.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost his race for Virginia governor last year when he suggested parents should butt out of their children’s education. Florida’s Charlie Crist last month named a teachers union president as his running mate. But one Democratic gubernatorial candidate is taking a different approach.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has quietly endorsed private school choice. His campaign website calls for “adding choices for parents and educational opportunity for students and funding lifeline scholarships like those approved in other states and introduced in Pennsylvania”—language that was absent as of Sept. 7, according to the Internet Archive.

Read the full article from the Wall Street Journal

School choice could help Hispanic students break through the achievement gap

Latino children deserve better. Just look at the numbers. Too many Hispanic students drop out of the K-12 education system each year, more than any other ethnic group in the United States. Add the learning loss suffered as a result of pandemic policies, and it’s clear we’re sitting on a crisis.

The good news, however, is that we can turn things around by expanding school choice programs across the country and growing awareness about education options within the Hispanic community.

The status quo of a one-size-fits-all education system might work for some students, but it is never going to work for all students. This is especially true for Hispanic children, who have fallen behind their peers to an alarming degree. Latino drop-out rates in the K-12 system, for example, are 65% higher than white students and nearly 40% higher than black students. Based on the data, that means in a classroom of 100 students, 30 of them would be Latino, and eight of those 30 students would drop out before graduating high school.

Read the full article from the Washington Examiner