Corey DeAngelis spoke on behalf of the American Federation for Children at America Fest in Phoenix. DeAngelis made his pitch for school choice.
“It’s a great time to be an American,” DeAngelis said. “And it’s also a great time to be a school choice advocate. The teachers’ unions have finally overplayed their hand, showed their true colors, and in a way, inadvertently done more to advance the concept of homeschooling, parental rights and educational freedom than anyone could have ever imagined.”
Families have figured out there is not any good reason to “fund a failing, closed, government institution” when you can fund students directly instead, he said.
“This year has been the year of school choice, and we’re just getting started,” he said. “Nineteen states have already expanded or enacted programs to fund students as opposed to systems. Parents have woken up. A way that I would put it is that COVID didn’t break the government school system, it was already broken. And families are never going to forget how powerless they felt in 2020 and they’re going to fight to make sure that they never feel powerless ever again.”
DeAngelis said he is optimistic moving forward because parents will fight for the right to educate their kids as they see fit harder than anyone will fight to take that right away from them.
“We already fund students directly when it comes to Pell grants and the GI bill for veterans,” DeAngelis said. “The money doesn’t go straight to the community college regardless of your choice. Instead, the money goes to the student and you can pick the community college if you want, but you can also take that money to a private, religious or non-religious university. We do the same thing for pre-K programs.”
Food stamps work in a similar way, he added.
“Imagine if we forced low-income families to take their food stamp dollars to a government-run provider of groceries,” he said. “That wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, the money rightfully goes to the families and they can choose Walmart if they want. We can also take that money to Safeway or Trader Joe’s. The money follows the decision of the family. We do the same thing with Medicaid, we do the same thing with Section Eight Housing vouchers. All I’m arguing is that we apply the same logic to K-12 education and fund people, not buildings.”
But the opposition only comes in education when it comes to funding individuals directly instead of institutions.
“The only difference is one of power dynamics,” DeAngelis said. “Choice is the norm with higher education, pre-K and thankfully for now, just about everything else in the United States. But choice threatens an entrenched special interest only when it comes to the in-between years of K-12 education. So they fight as hard as possible against any change to the status quo and they make up stuff and repeat the same arguments over and over again.
“‘Oh, school choice sounds great, but you’re going to steal money from the government schools.’ The money doesn’t belong to the government schools in the first place. School choice doesn’t defund government schools, government schools defund families. School choice initiatives just return the money to the hands of the rightful owners — or at least the intended beneficiaries.”
DeAngelis also plugged the Education Freedom Pledge, which has been signed by 17 Iowa legislators as well as Gov. Kim Reynolds.
For more information on the Federation for Children, you can visit this link.