In the early days of the Trump administration, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took heavy criticism from activists on both sides of the aisle. On the left, progressive activists sought to undermine her at every turn, knowing that she would spend every second actively fighting for school choice and educational freedom. Many on the right — and in full disclosure, that included me at the time — took issue with her previous support for Common Core and outright opposed her nomination to run the Department of Education.
But two years in, it’s pretty clear that Secretary DeVos has been wildly successful. DeVos went above and beyond in condemning Common Core and made returning to local control over education a priority. She has launched a number of school choice initiatives and consistently promoted educational freedom. And she has fought against the left’s brazen efforts to take options away from students at both the K-12 level and in higher education.
For being the so-called “pro-choice” party, Democrats sure do a lot to prevent people from making choices they don’t like. Instead of embracing freedom, Democrats fight for an unimaginative education system that limits educational options for lower and middle-income families and locks children into school districts based solely on where they live. Conservatives like Secretary DeVos recognize that we can do a whole lot better than that. Why not give our children every possible opportunity to achieve? Why place limits on what a student is capable of based on their street address and zip code?
Of course, freedom is upsetting to Democrats who prefer to just control everything and tell you what to do and how to think. The very concept of choice is a rejection of their ideological dominance over the education system. That is why they are so hellbent on defending the public school system monopoly.
But unbeknownst to most Americans, their tyranny goes beyond the K-12 school system — Democrats now want to tell students what types of colleges they are allowed to attend. Perhaps recognizing the existential threat that independent private colleges might pose to the left’s ideological stranglehold on higher education, progressives are on the warpath trying to eviscerate the for-profit college industry.
Last year, 11 Democratic Senators called on the IRS to use its power to “closely scrutinize” private colleges like Purdue University, Grand Canyon University, and Ashford University and block any effort by these schools to convert their tax status from for-profit to nonprofit. One of the 11, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), went a step further and pressured the Department of Veteran Affairs to block GI Bill funding to a number of private schools — a shameless attempt to deny thousands of veterans access to the college of their choice.
Left-wing radicals didn’t stop there. In an attempt to gaslight the public, they formed astroturf organizations, such as Veterans Education Success, that purport to represent the best interests of veterans, but are actually just political front-groups that serve the competitive interests of the higher education establishment. These organizations seek to eliminate higher-ed alternatives that better serve veterans and all transient Americans who can’t necessarily commit to a 4-year location for college but still want to earn an education.
We saw under the Obama administration what happens to the education system when progressives have complete control. President Obama’s Education Department exploited the federal purse-strings and used No Child Left Behind waivers and Race to the Top grants to coerce the states into adopting Common Core, forcing a one-size-fits-all set of low-quality standards on millions of children nationwide. Now, even without control of the executive branch, progressives are still trying to undermine educational freedom. But Secretary DeVos is standing in their way.
Progressives hate Secretary DeVos with such fervor because she has been incredibly effective in her first two years in defending educational choice and allowing everyone the ability to reach their potential and succeed. She’s taking on the left-wing academic machine head on. She’s dismantling Obama-era regulations that limited access to education for millions of students nationwide. All freedom-loving Americans should strongly support her in her efforts.
Providing students with as many options as possible — including at the higher-ed level — is a no-brainer, and any effort by progressive Democrats to take away educational freedom should be opposed.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.