Donald Trump with Betsy DeVos

Voucher Advocate to Lead Education Department

President-elect Donald Trump has selected a charter school and voucher advocate to be education secretary.

Betsy DeVos becomes the second woman chosen to fill a spot in Trump’s Cabinet. Earlier Wednesday, Trump named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations earlier in the day. Both require Senate confirmation.

DeVos heads the advocacy group American Federation for Children. Trump called her “a brilliant and passionate education advocate.”


  • Grateful!

    Thank you President Trump. If you make vouchers a reality our lives will be improved incredibly and our struggles greatly diminished. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Amused Observer

      Just what do you think will happen to school tuition when every parent is waving a (for example) $5000 voucher?

      Hint: tuitions aren’t going to go down.

    • Milhouse

      If you’re thinking of the bubble that has been going on in the higher education field, driven by government money, our situation is very different. Our schools are not profit-making enterprises like the universities, and the demand for their services is not sensitive to prices anyway, so there’s no reason for them to raise prices. Whether they lower them or simply start breaking even for the first time ever is an open question, but there’s no reason why they would raise them. I expect that most schools would in fact lower tuition, but not by the full amount of the vouchers; some of it would go to reducing their deficits, since not doing so would make fundraising more difficult.

    • Be careful what you wish for: You just may receive it!

      Along with vouchers comes much greater accountability to the government — after all, they are paying the bill!
      I, for one, am glad my kids didn’t have to learn the likes of “Heather Has Two Mommies,” Edgar Allen Poe, dissecting fetal pigs, Darwinism, birth control methods, etc. And I’m glad that there were no kids with catered-to gender confusion, if you know what I mean (i.e., bathrooms used by more than one gender, etc.).
      I prefer to applaud the efforts of the group in Crown Heights trying to build a major endowment fund to PRIVATELY fund tuitions without these government handouts. Somehow, frum schools managed to educate our frum youth even before there was a “Head Start” program, etc. We need to focus on what we can do to remain INDEPENDENT and FREE to educate our children as our Torah prescribes!
      But I know that there are very few of my frum brothers and sisters who can see beyond their own pocketbooks and admit that what I’m saying here is inevitably part of the reality of vouchers.

    • Milhouse

      The point of vouchers is that the funding is going to the parent, not the school, so there’s less government interference with the school. This also gets rid of the first amendment issue, since the government is funding the parents, and doesn’t care which kind of school they choose to buy their education from, just as they don’t care at what kind of supermarket people spend their food stamps.

    • From: "Be careful" to Milhouse

      Milhouse, with all due respect, how do you think the decision is made as to which educational institutions are allowed to receive the vouchers given to the parents?

      There will inevitably be scrutiny in preparing the list of educational institutions eligible for payment by vouchers.

      Surely, for example, if I open the “Be Careful” Day School, with no adherence to existing education law, I don’t think parents foolish enough to send their kids to the “Be Careful” Day School would be allowed to use vouchers to pay me tuition.

      I don’t know if you’ve been aware of recent issues in Canada, where frum educational institutions have been pressured by the government to change their curricula. And this was just due to government involvement without vouchers!

      Think of the added scrutiny there would be there, were there vouchers as part of the picture.

      I truly respect your thoughtful posts most of the time, Milhouse, but I think you (and many others) are blinded by something here, on this matter.

      Your food stamp analogy is not applicable, because (at least so far) a grocery store does not require accreditation as a grocery store, and a grocery store does not require recognition by other grocery stores in order for a consumer to move along to the next grocery store, unlike the situation with schools.

    • Milhouse

      The point of vouchers is that there are very few conditions on what kind of institutions can accept them. Maybe OT wouldn’t qualify, but most of our schools would. The problems in Canada and the UK have nothing to do with funding, they’re just government interference, which may or may not happen here r”l, but vouchers won’t make it any more likely.

    • MORE From: "Be careful" to Milhouse

      Milhouse, you take the cake (bought with food stamps, no doubt)!
      It is useless to discuss this with you, because you really don’t know what government does when it gets access to your kids’ education.
      Just take a look at Head Start: When the inspectors come, you’d never recognize the classroom or the curriculum or even what’s up on the walls; the food is even different then!
      It is so naive of you to think that the government would treat this with a hands-off attitude!
      And you’ve just written off the vast majority of the boys in Crown Heights by saying that “maybe OT wouldn’t qualify” — SO, do you trust the government’s educational priorities over the principles and guidelines of our Rebbeim for education of our boys?????
      AND this is not a debate about the merits or demerits of our own Lubavitch educational system; ‘just making the point that you lose an awful lot of freedom when on the dole for education! IMHO a partial tax credit for families who send their kids to private school would be MUCH better for maintaining educational freedom.
      But my words are no match for legions of Yidden with their hands out to the government for those vouchers….

    • Milhouse

      OT may not qualify for vouchers, and if so those parents would be no worse off than before. But our other schools would qualify, so we’d still be better off. A tax credit has exactly the same risk as vouchers; if schools will be inspected to see if they qualify to accept vouchers, then they will be inspected to see if they qualify for the tax credit too. If they wouldn’t be inspected for the tax credit, why would they be inspected for vouchers? It’s the same thing. But a tax credit only helps those who pay net tax.

  • #1

    Unfortunately, if vouchers come, the Yeshivas will charge even higher tuition, as we see now with the few that have vouchers. All of the programs that are supposed to help parents end up helping the Yeshivos and not the parents.

    • Milhouse

      What do you mean by “helping the yeshivos and not the parents”? The yeshivos are not profit-making enterprises. Their interest is not opposed to that of the parents. And if a school does absorb the whole voucher and doesn’t lower tuition at all, is that a bad thing? All it means is that the yeshivah will run at a lower deficit, or maybe even break even; wouldn’t that itself be a wonderful thing?

    • Lubavitcher

      The yeshivos are not profit-making enterprises – true. But those people running the yeshivas can (and do) get wealthy. They can’t flash their wealth but they have enough to fully support all their children.

  • #8

    The pupose of vouchers is to help the parents with tuition, it is a bad thing if the yeshivos dont lower tuition if the parents get vouchers.

    • Milhouse

      The purpose of vouchers is to fund all childrens’ education equitably. Ideally the voucher would be for the full amount that it costs to educate a child in public school. In practise it would unfortunately be far less than that, but whatever it is will be better than nothing. And if it goes to the school’s expenses, so that the school no longer has to raise money to subsidize tuition, then it will be fulfilling this purpose.

  • Amused Observer

    In the end, the schools get the voucher, of course. So let’s try an example in which the parents get a $5000 voucher to spend on their child’s private education. If existing tuition is $10,000, which of the following will the schools be most likely to charge the parents post-tuition?

    A) $8,000 of which $5,000 will be paid by voucher
    B) the current $10,000, of which $5,000 will be paid by voucher
    C)$14,500, of which $5,000 will be paid by voucher

    • Milhouse

      That depends on how much it actually costs to educate the child. If it actually costs $15,000 or more, and the school is now losing $5000 per child, then it’s to be expected that it will take advantage of vouchers to reduce or eliminate its loss. But if the real cost is only $13,000 then I would expect the tuition to rise only to that level, because our schools are not profit-making enterprises.

  • Amused Observer

    To Millhouse, comment 10:

    You said: “All it means is that the yeshivah will run at a lower deficit, or maybe even break even; wouldn’t that itself be a wonderful thing?”

    No, it’s not wonderful if you’re reaching into unwilling taxpayer’s pockets to do so.

    • Milhouse

      We are the taxpayers, and we are entitled to the same level of funding for our kids’ education that all our neighbors get. Vouchers would do this. And if the result is that we pay the same tuition but the schools no longer have to subsidize us, then that would be a good thing.

  • Shoshie

    Wouldn’t trump as president have a say in government interference on our schools’ curriculum? I tend to doubt that he wouldn’t be somewhat sensitive to our needs as frum yidden.
    Don’t forget his own daughter is frum.

    • Trump's Frum Daughter is MODERN Orthodox

      Modern Orthodox schools all have a heavy emphasis on secular studies (along with teaching Torah); in fact many consider Modern Orthodox schools to be a kind of “Jewish Prep School” — preparing students to get into top secular universities.

      While Trump has probably taken on some understanding of the concerns of frum Yidden due to learning about the lifestyle of his now-Orthodox daughter, this would be from a Modern Orthodox perspective, not from a Rebbishe perspective.

      The priorities in a Modern Orthodox educational institution are VERY different from what our Rebbeim instructed our schools to do, especially in the education of boys.

      Hence, Oholei Torah, Cheder Ohr Menachem, many if not most Lubavitch mesivtos, and some other boys’ chadorim do not teach secular subjects. Even the Chabad boys schools that offer secular subjects do not emphasize them (at least in Crown Heights); for example, Lubavitch Yeshiva offers secular studies as an option at the end of the day, not as a mandatory part of the curriculum for all boys.

      This is VERY different from the education that Ivanka Trump’s husband grew up with in Modern Orthodox day school, and it is also not the kind of education that the Trump grandchildren are likely to ever receive. The Kushner children will likely attend Modern Orthodox Schools, which stress secular academics as a required and important part of the total curriculum, as described above.

      Modern Orthodox schools, for this reason, would likely “pass muster” under government evaluations of appropriateness for voucher use, whereas our chasidishe schools, following the guidelines of our Rebbeim–especially most of the boys’ schools in Crown Heights–would likely NOT “pass muster.”