April 2, 2024

Will Bunch: The war on public schools is the stealth issue of the 2024 campaign

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Writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, columnist Will Bunch notes the importance of public schools in the 2024 election cycle/

It became a big political story when presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump abruptly flip-flopped on TikTok, revealing that he no longer supports efforts to ban the popular app if its Chinese owners don’t divest from the company. Eyebrows were raised because Trump had just made peace at a Palm Beach, Fla., fundraiser with billionaire Jeff Yass — Pennsylvania’s richest man, TikTok’s biggest U.S. investor, and the nation’s largest political donor.

But Trump later told CNBC that when he met Yass and his wife, Janine, at the Club for Growth fundraiser, they talked about something completely different.

The ex-president insisted that Yass “never mentioned TikTok. She [Janine Yass] did mention her school choice and that’s what her whole … in fact, she said, ‘My whole life is based around school choice.’ [It] was a very important thing to her, and I agree with it.”

Voters shouldn’t be reassured by Trump’s explanation. They should be very, very alarmed.

That’s because whatever you think about TikTok’s wild popularity with teenagers and its impact on their state of mind, the portfolio of education strategies that right-wingers brand as “school choice” — vouchers or tax credits to aid kids to attend private or even religious schools, or public charter school alternatives — is actually more dangerous for your child. Not to mention its impact on declining public schools in your community. Or on your rising taxes.

The mounting evidence that so-called school choice doesn’t lead to better student outcomes, even as these programs devastate the traditional public schools that — dare I say it — made America great well into the 20th century, hasn’t deterred the cartoon-villain alliance of the super-superrich like Yass from accelerating their effort to impose their will on U.S. education.

Read the full column here. 

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