Speaker 0 00:00:00 The Atla Society asks, I'm Jennifer, Angie Grossman, Please call me Jag. I am the CEO of the Atla Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization introducing young people to the ideas of Iron Rand in fun, creative ways, like graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are joined by Corey d. Before I even get into introducing our guest, I want to remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. Use the comment section to type in your questions for our guest. Go ahead, get started. Cue them up. We will get to as many of them as we can, our guests today. I've been waiting a long time for this. Corey is a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children whose research primarily focuses on the effects of school choice programs on nonacademic outcomes such as criminal activity, character skills, mental health, political participation, and schooling supply. He is co-editor of School Choice Myths, Setting the Record Straight On Education Freedom, and he has authored or co-authored over 40 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on education policy with his work being featured in outlets such as USA Today, New York Post, the Hill, Washington Examiner Foundation for Economic Education, and the Wall Street Journal. Corey, thanks so much for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:40 Hey, thanks for having me.
Speaker 0 00:01:42 So, uh, we love to start with a little bit of our guests origin stories. Uh, where'd you grow up early influences that got you interested in education, and what led to your focus on school choice in particular?
Speaker 1 00:01:57 I actually grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where I attended government run schools all through K to 12 except for high school. I had the opportunity to go to something called the Magnet School, which is still technically a district or government run educational institution, but it's not a residential assigned option. It's a school of choice in the sense that you can choose it, it's an alternative to the residential assigned option, and they can have admissions processes. So I figured that that was a great opportunity for me. It was actually on the same physical campus as my residential assigned government run option. And I saw a night and day difference for four years. Uh, and I'd like other families have opportunities to have a better education, and it shouldn't be limited to schools that are run by the government. You should be able to take your children's education dollars to the education provider of your choosing.
Speaker 1 00:02:45 If you, if you wanna take it to the government school, fine. If you like your public school, you can keep your public school, but if not, you should be able to take that same funding to a private school, a charter school, or a home based education provider. Uh, after that, I did a bachelor's and master's in San Antonio, Texas at the University of Texas at San Antonio in economics. And that really just opened my mind to the problems with monopoly power. And, uh, that's, that's inherent in the residential assigned government run school system. Today. You have to, if you want to, uh, choose another alternative, you either have to pay out of pocket while still paying for the government run option through property taxes, uh, which leads to monopoly power. And, uh, you have compulsory education laws as well that leads to more monopoly power in, in the current system.
Speaker 1 00:03:34 I mean, just imagine if you didn't like your grocery store and you had to move houses to get to another grocery store, or if you had to pay twice, had to pay for, if you didn't like Walmart, you had to pay for Trader Joe's plus Walmart while not receiving the services from Walmart. That wouldn't make any sense. It would mean that Walmart would have way too much, um, power over your decisions. This is the problem that we have with the government run school system today. And I also had an advisor through, uh, my bachelor's in master's named John Merrifield. He was probably the only free market economist there at UT San Antonio. And he was also a Freedman fellow at, uh, uh, the, uh, Freedman Foundation, which is now called Ed Choice. And he recommended that I go do a PhD in education policy at the University of Arkansas.
Speaker 1 00:04:18 They have something called the, uh, Department of Education Reform, where the, my advisors there were Jay Green, Patrick Wolf, and Robert Merano, who are three big, uh, school choice academics, uh, done, have done research on the topic for decades. And my first study there linked the Milwaukee voucher program to attend a private school to crime reduction. Later on in life, I had stu student level data from the state mandated evaluation, and I really entered this field at a national scale, um, as a researcher. Um, I'm more so doing advocacy work now. I'm at afc. I, I went to Cato after I left and finished my PhD. Uh, and then I also went to, uh, reason where I'm still a fellow, uh, but now I'm doing advocacy work, mostly some research as well at the American Federation for Children, uh, which is the, the, uh, only school choice advocacy group at a national level that has c3, c4, and Pack capabilities. So we can hold politicians feet to the fire and then also beat 'em up with, with logic is at the same time,
Speaker 0 00:05:26 Logic and narrative too. I, you know, I think that is so important in terms of, um, persuading persuading people to really see the human side of this, uh, because, um, that's really what the left use is when they try to, uh, to prevent parents from, uh, making these choices. So this school choice, uh, is an issue that's very near and dear to my heart, having served as Cato's Director of Education policy, uh, over 25 years ago. And prior to that, working with Ted Forsman to, uh, help launch the Children's Scholarship Fund nationally. So, um, catch me up. How have efforts for school choice education evolved since then? Uh, there used to be a big push for vouchers, so, um, has the terminology changed? Is this still kind of like vouchers when you're talking about funds following the children? Or has, uh, the approach more fundamentally shifted?
Speaker 1 00:06:25 It's a pretty similar approach, but it's a little bit different. So mostly what has been pushed lately is something called an education savings account. So it's kind of like a voucher, but a little different, and I'll explain it. Uh, right now, the voucher idea is the same money that would've followed you to the government run school. You could still take it there. Again, if you like your public school, you can keep your public school, but if not, that same funding would follow the child in the form of a voucher to be able to be spent at a private school to cover tuition and fees. That's pretty basic. That's the voucher idea. It's the same taxpayer dollars that would've followed you to the government. School education savings accounts are pretty similar in that, the same funding that would've followed you to the government school. You can instead take it to an education savings account directed by the parents.
Speaker 1 00:07:08 And then again, like the voucher, you could use it to pay for private school tuition and fees if you want, but it allows for even more customization and flexibility on the part of the parent in that you can use that funding for any other approved education expenditure as well. It could be a micro school where you get five to 10 children together in a household and essentially economize on the process of homeschooling. You could use it for homeschooling expenses like homeschool curriculum, private tutoring, uh, special needs, educational therapies, any approved education expenditure. So it's much more customizable and flexible than the voucher option. And it can also be funded through a tax credit mechanism, which gets a little bit more complicated. But the same kind of idea is that, uh, you can get a tax benefit for donating funding to a scholarship granting organization, and the parents can go to that scholarship granting organization to apply for funding, which would then go to the ESA education savings account, which then again, could be used for any approved education expenditure.
Speaker 1 00:08:08 So that's kind of what we've moved from vouchers towards education savings accounts, and we've had the wind at our backs over the past couple of years. In particular, we've had Supreme Court victories. We had the Espinoza v Montana decision in 2020, just earlier this year in June, we had the Carson V making decision. Uh, and both of these made it pretty clear that school choice does not violate the so-called separation of church and state, uh, which you can't be found in the, in the US Constitution. It does not violate the establishment clause at the US Constitution, which is pretty clear for the same reason why Pell Grants for higher education scholarships for low income kids for college do not violate the establishment clause. And the reason, even though you can use the funding at Notre Dame, a private religious university, and the reason for that is that the primary beneficiaries of the funding is the student and the families ha and students have the choice between religious and non-religious options, public or private options.
Speaker 1 00:09:08 Same reason why Medicaid vouchers aren't in a violation of the establishment clause. You can use it at a private religiously affiliated hospital if you want. Same thing with pre-K programs, public taxpayer funding that can be used at private, religious, or non-religious providers of pre-K. But those, uh, cases wanna step further. And also said that if you're gonna have a school choice program, you don't have to have one, but if you're gonna have one, you can't discriminate against religious families and schools by saying that you can only use the voucher at a non-religious private school, which is what's what Maine was doing. Uh, and that was ruled on this most recent case in 2022 that you can't discriminate. And they, they rolled based on the, uh, free exercise clause. So that was a, those two cases were big, um, uh, wins for school choice and religious liberty at the same time.
Speaker 1 00:09:59 But the bigger wins were caused by the teachers unions overplaying their hand and awakening a sleeping giant, which happens to be parents who want more of a say in their kids' education. You had the teachers unions lobbying the CDC to keep schools closed as long as possible while you had, at the same time, the private schools fighting to reopen. I mean, look, you're in California. There was a, I remember there was a Catholic school in Sacramento County, There was a ridiculous health order from the Health County official saying that if you were a school, you couldn't be open, but if you were a daycare, you were, it was all fine because C'S super smart and it knows it's gonna get you if you're learning something and you're at school. But if you're in the same building for daycare services and you're not learning anything, it's totally okay because again, covid was a very smart virus and, and configured these things out.
Speaker 1 00:10:49 Um, and the Catholic School actually rebranded itself as a daycare because it knew that if it had to keep its doors closed, it would probably have to keep its doors closed for good. But where on the other hand, the government school monopoly fought to keep schools closed as long as possible, not because they're necessarily bad people in that system. It's a problem with the system itself, where the teachers, union bosses knew that they could essentially hold children's education hostage to secure multiple, multi-billion dollar ransom payments from the federal government. And it worked for them. They received about 190 billion since March of 2020 in so-called Covid Relief, which turned out to be about three to $4,000 per student. Most of that money hasn't even been spent yet. According to the Wall Street Journal, 93%, uh, earlier this summer, that money hasn't even been spent. Um, and, and so they didn't really even need it to reopen the schools and, but the, the, the incentives were so backwards that they knew that they could get your money regardless of whether they opened their doors for business, but it was even worse because they knew they could profit from actually keeping the doors closed for business.
Speaker 1 00:11:54 And then, so families got to see that the school system didn't give a crap about them. They started putting their kids in private school, a lot of families pulled their kids to and, and, and started homeschooling. Uh, according to the US Census Bureau, homeschooling has doubled relative to pre pandemic levels. So there's been a mass exodus from the government school system. Nearly 2 million children have left the, the, the government run school system. And, uh, that's just one part of it, though. Parents started to wake up to the, the, the nefarious, uh, activity, uh, from the system itself, but then also they got to see what the heck was going on in the classroom. So a lot of news sources called it remote learning. I'd like to call it remotely learning because there wasn't a lot of actual learning going on with the school closures. But the silver lining was that families got to see another dimension of school quality that is arguably more important, I would say more important than can be captured on a math and reading standardized test score.
Speaker 1 00:12:55 The same families who had their kids in quote unquote good, uh, public schools, according to the state, or according to their report card or the standardized test, they started to wake up because they started to see that they, they've been sending their kids to institutions that brainwashed them to hate their parents. And that mobilized so many parents across the country, uh, par yeah, again, parents who otherwise thought that they, their kids were in an okay place, started to see that, well, this school's not aligned with my values. Uh, and that really helped the argument for School Choice. We've seen an eight point increase in support for school choice, according to the latest real clear opinion research polling, which increased to about 72% of Americans supporting school choice. And then more importantly, in 2021, we called that the year of school choice because 19 states expanded or enacted programs to fund students as opposed to systems.
Speaker 1 00:13:52 And then earlier this year, um, Arizona went all in one uped, all those states. And you know what? We're going all in. We're empowering every single family regardless of income, regardless of zip code, regardless of background, we'll be able to take their kids education dollars to the education provider they're choosing. That's the gold standard of school choice. It's what we've all been fighting for for a long time. Arizona finally did it. The teachers unions tried to stop them by trying to get signatures to refer it to the ballot after it passed and, and was signed into law. They felt so far short of the ex the necessary signatures, even before validation. Uh, it was a, an embarrassing defeat by the teachers union backed group, Save our Schools, Arizona. And it was because parents, this new special interest group in town fought back every single day when, when they were trying to gather petitions to block the program, the parents were out there informing voters of the benefits of school choice and the facts of the matter.
Speaker 1 00:14:50 And so they, they didn't, the, the opponents of educational Freedom failed, even though they said that they had like 142,000 signatures. They, the Secretary of State just released the numbers yesterday. They only actually turned in about 86,000 signatures. So they overestimated their signature count, the anti school choice group by about 64%. And so, you know, a lot of people, the jokes just write themselves, right? It's either they're really bad at math, maybe they were doing common core math if they were that far off, or they lied about it because they knew that if they just said that they had the signatures, they could delay the program for a couple of weeks, perhaps keep the students in the government schools until they hit the count day, which is the 40th day of the school year, which was like a week or two ago. And then they could perhaps get some of the funding for those, for those students. Maybe that's what they did, or it, they're really bad at math, and they, and that's just another good reason that we should have more school choice. Why are these people teaching our kids math if they can't even get within 60% of, of, of the count of their own signature drive? But we, we won in Arizona, and that's great. And I hope this leads to more friendly competition in other states,
Speaker 0 00:16:03 As they say, never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence. So, uh, we, we may never know. Um, so tell us a little bit more. Oh, and first, I just wanna remind everybody watching us on Facebook, on YouTube, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Instagram, Please go ahead, type in those questions, and we will get to as many of them as we can. This is a wonderful opportunity. We're talking to Corey d he is bleeding the fight for school choice, and, uh, must be exciting for you to be alive now and being a part of this. It wasn't, uh, quite as much fun when I was in the trenches on the issue 25 years ago.
Speaker 1 00:16:46 Yeah, and I think, um, look, the, it's the teacher gens overplayed their hand. We should really give Randy Winegart an award for being the best school choice advocate of the past couple of years by just stepping in it over and over again. And I think she's just been so drunk on power, the teachers union bosses for so long that they just can't reverse course at this point. They've always gotten what they wanted, but they haven't had to deal with the kids' union, the, the parents who have woken up and are never going back to sleep. A lot of people say, Oh, look, well, the schools are open again. The parents aren't really gonna be upset anymore. But the thing is, parents are never going to unsee what they saw in 2020. The curriculum problems are still there, and they're always going to be there. I don't, I don't really take a stance on what the curriculum ought to be, but you shouldn't be able to force other people's kids to be raised in a way that is not aligned with their parents' values.
Speaker 1 00:17:39 That's where the problem arises. And it's inherent in a one size fits all government run school system in a society where parents just fundamentally are going to disagree about how they want their kids raised and how they want their kids to be educated. And the only way out of this mess it through freedom as opposed to force, is to fund the student directly and allow families to choose the education providers that best align with their values. And that should also lead to competition, which has the public schools in response up their game academically, but then also to focus more on the basics as opposed to politicizing the curriculum. Because look, if you're a provider of educational services, maybe there's some niche providers who say, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna go all in and, and be super biased in one way or the other. But for the most part, parents want education.
Speaker 1 00:18:30 They don't want politicization for, for one way or the other. If you look at the polling on the issue, and so as a provider of education services, you scratch your head and you, you think, whether I go far too far right or too far left, I'm gonna upset a lot of parents. My, it would be in my best interest to just focus on math, reading and writing so that I don't, uh, upset a large segment of the, of the customer base. And, you know, we're seeing fights right now about CRT and the gender stuff, but I would say that, you know, the CRT battles of today were the common core battles of yesterday. And going forward, there's going to be a battle. And, uh, some other, we don't even know what the battle's going to be. It's gonna be dependent on what is, uh, exciting to society at the time, or what's happening in the news or what's happening with, with the political landscape.
Speaker 1 00:19:17 Uh, but some legislators are taking another approach instead of saying, Okay, let's just par let parents choose. They're saying, Well, I'm a proponent of parental rights, and what I'm gonna do is say, Well, you guys don't like crt, I don't like crt, so I'm just gonna ban it. And we see a lot of red states doing this right now, but you have some of the same legislators who are voting against school choice because they're saying, Oh, we already fixed the problem. We fixed the curriculum problem. But the reality is, these top down, so called solutions are one, a form of playing whackamole because we don't know what the problem's gonna be in the future. It's always gonna be something else popping up. But then two, it's like playing whackamole, but the mo the, the mold not, uh, going down or, or just failing to hit the MO all altogether because these bands are unenforceable.
Speaker 1 00:20:04 And there are so many, um, implementation issues. There's already a group of undercover cover journalists that in organization called Accuracy and Media, and they're putting out all these videos in red states that have already banned C R T with administrators just saying, You know what? I'm just gonna do what I want anyway. I'm gonna call it social emotional learning or student mental health. I'll just change the definitions. I'll move the goal post a little bit. Or they'll just say, Look, no one's enforcing this. We have teachers once they close the classroom door, nobody's watching them, and they're still gonna do what they want. And so even if you, your sole purpose is, is, or your goal is to not have CRT anymore, the better solution is competition bottom up, allowing families to choose because you're top down, um, uh, government regulation solutions are not even, uh, uh, they don't even achieve what, what your mission is.
Speaker 1 00:20:59 And then, um, so yeah, school choice is the better solution. We've had victories all across the country. And another thing that's changed, I think, is that this has really become a G O P litmus test issue when I'm, when we're talking about school choice, and Republicans in particular, who are getting endorsed by the teacher unions are getting their butts kicked in the primaries. If you think about Tennessee, for example, 10 of the house Republicans in Tennessee in the primary races were endorsed or funded by the Tennessee Teachers Unions, but only, but nine of those, those 10 lost their seats or lost their, their primaries. So the teachers union endorsement for Republicans in particular, it's becoming the political kiss of death. And even for Democrats coming out against parental rights and education is becoming a form of political suicide, look at what happened to Terry McCullough in Virginia when he said, I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach on the final debate stage.
Speaker 1 00:22:01 Glen Youngin ran with that and turned it into a negative attack ad against McCullough, the Democrat. And in the state that went 10 points to Biden just the year before, it swung 12 points the other way in just one year. And youngin on the issue of education, one by two points overall and by six points with education voters. And that was the number two issue in the election, second to only jobs and the economy according to Washington Post exit polling. So that, that story's pretty clear what happened in Virginia. And we even have some Democrats like, uh, uh, or one Democrat in particular, which I wrote about at the Wall Street Journal in an article called a Democrat, Defects on School Choice, Talking about a gubernatorial candidate for, for governor, uh, uh, Josh Shapiro, a democrat running for governor. He quietly changed his education platform where he was always against school choice before, but just in last month, he changed his platform to include school choice.
Speaker 1 00:22:59 And he didn't use like a broad term like, like parental rights or just school choice. He said Lifeline scholarships, which is a particular piece of reg legislation that was ran by Republican, uh, earlier this year and passed through the Pennsylvania House. And so he's really, if he's, some people said, were saying, Oh, well, he's just saying this to get elected, he's gonna change his mind after he, if he wins. And my takeaway is, well, if that was his plan all along, if you're just gonna flip flop on it, well, why would he list Lifeline scholarships? That makes it really hard for him to back out? He really backed himself into a corner. If his real goal is to is to just change what he, you know, change his position later on. I think he wants to avoid a Terry McCollough in Pennsylvania. And the way that he has to do that is to prove he actually supports a particular policy.
Speaker 1 00:23:51 And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter why he flipped on it, it doesn't matter why he supports it. What matters is if he's in office, uh, and it's looking like he's going to win, according to the polling he's just been way up on in the polls, uh, against his opponent, Doug riano, it, it it'll be a win for families. I don't care what the reason is for why you switched, if you're just reading the tea leaves, or if you looked at the polls and you're seeing that school choice is popular, which it is, um, good. I don't care. I don't care, uh, if you're, if you're a true believer or not, because as Milton Friedman famously said, and he was right on this, is it's not about getting the right people in office because they might get in office and do the wrong thing because of political power dynamics.
Speaker 1 00:24:32 It's about making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things. And the reason that that has changed recently is one, the teacher juniors over playing their hand, but then two, the parents showing up at the school board meetings. But those same families showing up at the ballot box too, they have become a new special interest, which is arguably more important, more important and more powerful than the teachers unions. They have more power in numbers and parents care about their kids more than anybody else. So they're going to fight to protect their rights when it comes to educating their children harder than anyone will ever fight to take those rights away from them. And politicians are responding to these new incentives that are, uh, some of them are, some of them are quadrupling down on anti parent rhetoric, but they're losing votes for that.
Speaker 1 00:25:20 And, and so I'm optimistic that this school choice wave will continue, especially after looking at the National School Boards Association. They colluded with the Biden administration, sent a letter to Department of Justice, implying that some families should be labeled for domestic terrorism, um, or investigated for domestic terrorism that blew up in their face. Uh, since then, over the past, uh, year or so, 26 states have decided to leave the National School Boards Association. So now we might as well call them what the, the Regional School Boards Association, <laugh>, they should really rename themselves or just, uh, just collapse together because, um, that's seems to be the trend with the nsba. But the, the takeaway here is, look, parents are a new powerful political player to be reckoned with as a group, and it would be wise for politicians from all parties to listen to them.
Speaker 1 00:26:17 And if Arizona can get a school choice victory done, the biggest victory in, in US history, all in all families eligible, any other red state, particularly in the short run, should be able to get it done because Arizona did it with one seat majorities, a one seat, G o p Republican, uh, uh, House and Senate. That may meant they all needed to show up and vote in favor of their party platform issue. And, and obviously the governor, governor signed it into law Governor Doug Ducey is a huge supporter of, of School Choice. So now I'm looking towards next year, you know, like, what's up, Texas AB Greg Abbott's leading on the issue for the first time or the most, for the most, uh, yeah, for the first time that I've seen in recent memory. And he's fighting really hard, uh, for school choice. And, uh, they have much stronger majorities when it comes to the G O P, and this is a top eight legislative priority in Texas this coming session.
Speaker 1 00:27:10 It's on their party platform. They better be able to get it done if Arizona can do it. And then I think the long term trend towards bipartisanship is the more that the G O P leads on this and turns into the parents party and makes and makes this a litmus test issue, the more it becomes politically detrimental for the Democrats to oppose it. You'll see more Terry MCC McCall if examples and, and, and, and things like that happening at the ballot box. And then the, some of them will defect like Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, say, You know what, maybe I should let read the t leaves too and see that I'm losing votes because this is such a popular position. The independents overwhelmingly, uh, go towards a majority of Democrats even support school choice. Hmm. Maybe I should listen to them, especially now that they have a voting block parents, uh, uh, who who are, who are holding me accountable so that it, um, almost counterintuitively you could have a scenario where hyper-partisanship can lead to bipartisanship in the long run.
Speaker 0 00:28:13 No, um, it's interesting what you were saying about the incentives and whether people, uh, are opportunists or whether they're true believers, we welcome them. And part of that means continuing to feed this trend of, uh, increased support for school choice. And part of that means, uh, helping to amplify the work that Corey's doing. So we just shared, um, links to a recent Wall Street Journal article by him, as well as, uh, one that really breaks down what's happening in Arizona. Highly recommend is highly entertaining, uh, feed on Twitter as well. So yeah, follow him, retweet him, um, make sure that you are helping to, to share this message, um, so that most more people can open their minds and opened their hearts to, uh, to what we're doing to our children. Um, alright, well, we have a few questions here that are coming in. You know, some of them actually also have to do, uh, with the myths about school choice, so I do wanna kind of get into that as well. Um, but let's see here. We have a question from Roger Hoffman asking, Are you familiar with the group Moms for Liberty? Any thoughts on that group and, and any controversies there?
Speaker 1 00:29:39 Yeah, they're great. I mean, they came up, um, over the pandemic period fighting back against, um, uh, certain curriculum in the schools mask mandates, covid regulations. And they're, uh, from what I can tell, pretty supportive of school choice too. And it really just goes to show you that this is, um, a special interest that has emerged that parents have banded together, parents who otherwise would've, who were upset in the past, just didn't want to show up at school board meetings. They didn't wanna be the only one, right? It's, it's much more difficult if you have a coordination problem to stand out against, uh, the, the tyrants in office who are abusing your kids. And so a lot of parents, you know, um, they have their full-time jobs and they have other things to do, and, you know, they didn't really think that them going alone was gonna make much of a difference, because let's be real, it really didn't make much of a difference before.
Speaker 1 00:30:35 But now they have support group, basically. And these mom, this mom for Liberty group is a nationwide group. They have chapters, I I wanna say, in every state now, and they've grown exponentially over the past couple of years. That just goes to show you that there's a real demand for change, uh, within the public school system. And, you know, I, I look at the Monster Liberty group, and I've been trying to tell people someone should start a Teacher's for Liberty group too, because look, competition in the market for goods and services is obviously good for families, parents, and their kids, uh, when it comes to education. But competition in the labor market is also good for employees. So when teachers are complaining about not earning enough, or they have to dig into their pockets for supplies each year, or they're just sick of the red tape in the government school system, I kind of feel bad for them.
Speaker 1 00:31:27 But the problem isn't with their competition with private and charter schools, the problem is that their employer, the district happens to be a massive monopoly that has no incentive to spend dollars wisely. Just think about it, na, nationwide, according to National Center for Education Statistics, since 1970 per pupil education expenditures in the US have increased by about 152% after adjusting for inflation. Teacher salaries have only increased by about 8% in real terms. So where's all the money going? It's going towards administrative blow and staffing surges, which is great for teachers union bosses like Randy Winegart, who make over $500,000 a year, but it's not so great for individual teachers in the system who are doing a good job already. And there are five studies that on the topic, and I think today's like World Teacher Appreciation Day, I don't really follow these things, but someone tagged me in it on Twitter.
Speaker 1 00:32:19 And someone had actually shared an article that I wrote in 2019 at the Washington Examiner, a piece called School Choice Benefits Teachers, too. It's also reshared at the Cato Institute website. But where I just lay out the argument that, look, competition should help teachers too. You'll have more autonomy in the private sector, not as much red tape. You can have smaller class sizes. I mean, there is a Washington Post article over the pandemic where a teacher in the public school system in New Jersey actually left the public school system after being there for two dec I believe two decades, and started a micro school where they had only like 10 students in their household, and they were making more money, They had less BS to deal with from the government school system in terms of red tape. They had more autonomy, and they were happier, and they made that decision.
Speaker 1 00:33:03 This, this could be, I mean, just imagine that the funding we're following the child in the, in the, in the US according to the 2020 census data, we spend about 16, over $16,000 per student per year. In DC where I live, it's over $31,000 per student, uh, per year. Uh, so there's some variation there, but just imagine that that money followed the child and then teachers could start their own school. You cut out all the middleman, all the administrative bs, and more of that money could go directly to the teacher, especially if you have a homeschool type of situ, uh, like a homeschool co-op or a micro school type situation where you don't have to spend as much money on the fixed cost. More of the funding could go directly to teachers. And let's say you could figure out how to manage, you know, 20, 30 students and scale up, you can make even more, more money that way.
Speaker 1 00:33:52 Uh, so school choice is a win-win. It's good for families, obviously. They get a choice and they, they opt in or opt out, uh, each year to making that choice. But then teachers can benefit as well from competition. And the way economists would say this is we have a monopoly in the market for goods and services and a monos in the labor market, which is obviously bad for teachers. Uh, but yes, Monster Liber is a great group. I I, I, I love seeing all of these parent groups popping up. That's one of the biggest, uh, most prominent examples, and I'm happy they're doing the work that they're doing.
Speaker 0 00:34:25 Awesome. Well, uh, I don't know if this kind of overlaps with some of the myths, but, uh, we have a couple of similar questions. My modern ga on Instagram asking, um, whether school choice vouchers would force private schools to accept people that they might not want to, again, so myths and then also guardian gamer on YouTube. Uh, do you think that school choice is gonna open the door for government to, uh, interfere with private schools?
Speaker 1 00:34:58 Yeah, so these, both of these arguments are a form of making perfect the enemy of the good, uh, and, uh, missing the forest for the trees. I mean, we gotta take the incremental victories when possible, especially because no school choice initiative in the history of the country or today has ever forced any family to, or school to accept the funding. So each individual family can make the cost benefit decision for their own kids whether to accept the funding. And at the same time, however, we shouldn't feel like we were, that we shouldn't force other families to send those same dollars to the government run school, because that's, that's the alternative today we have nine outta 10 kids in public schools today. And, uh, look, the government can regulate private and home education without school choice. And I would argue that's more likely to happen in a scenario where you have nine outta 10 kids going to government run institutions that, uh, teach them to like big government policy.
Speaker 1 00:35:59 Those kids will grow up to and, and vote later on, uh, to regulate private home, home education without school choice. We're more likely to, to defend against those future calls for regulation One, if fewer people are in that system and have and experience less indoctrination. But then two, if we have a bigger coalition, more people experience parenting, private and home education, we'll have a bigger coalition to push back against those future calls for regulation. And then three, when more people are experiencing private and home education in the short term, it'll become more mainstream, which should decrease the likelihood that others in society call to regulate private and home education, because it's not some icky thing that, that only a few people do. It's more of a, uh, an accepted thing if more people are participating in private and home education. I mean, look, in Oregon in 1922, they outlawed, uh, private education altogether.
Speaker 1 00:36:53 And that wasn't a school choice issue. That's just the government overreach. Thankfully, three years later in Pierce versus Society of Sisters, the US Supreme Court struck down that authoritarian law in which the, uh, opinion of the court said famously, the child is not the mere creature of the state. Hopefully more people will start to realize that, uh, in in present day as well. And remember that ruling. Uh, but look, uh, also, look Thomas, so great economists once famously said, There are no solutions. There are only trade offs. And each individual policy recommendation, as well as the status quo have a set of cost and benefits associated with it. And the people who are fear mongering or making the perfect ammy of the good on school choice policy are focusing on one potential cost that could happen in the future while ignoring the huge guaranteed costs that are happening today.
Speaker 1 00:37:46 So again, we gotta take the, the w or we're gonna be stuck with the l And by the way, I just tweeted this out the other day, but Randy Wine Garden we've mentioned already on this podcast, has made the same fear Monering argument saying, Oh, look, with public dollars becomes public accountability, this is gonna control private education. Do you think she's saying that because she's a libertarian and she's against government overreach? Absolutely not. Randy Wingard loves big government in, in, in, uh, involvement. Uh, she's the head of the American Federation of Teachers, uh, uh, uh, Teachers Union. And she's made this argument because she knows that if these arguments catch hold, then that could help her successfully block school choice and she can keep her gravy train going her over $500,000 a year, uh, salary at the American Federation of Teachers, because then she'll be able to force millions of kids, about 50 million kids to attend her institutions that are staffed by people in her union.
Speaker 1 00:38:48 Um, so she's not making this art. So if you're on the side of Randy Wine Garden in any debate, you probably should rethink, um, uh, what's going on in your, in your mind a little bit and start to think about the total cost and the total benefits of, of each policy and the status quo. And I think you'll find that, yeah, maybe this is one potential cost that could happen in the future, but the cost of not doing school choice outweigh the cost, the potential cost of giving families that choice, especially because no one is forced to take the money and everybody can make that decision for their own kids. And then also just each, every school choice bill is not equal. You gotta look at the text of the document. And the way that they did it in Arizona is the most libertarian way to do it that I've seen, and they explicitly put in the statute that the government cannot have any, uh, control of over any private or home education when it comes to their admissions processes, their curriculum, their, uh, their creed, their yeah, their mission, um, uh, they can't require any state or even nationally norm reference testing.
Speaker 1 00:39:54 You can't control the admissions processes of the schools. I mean, it's about as light touche as you can get. The only requirement, which is a reason, a reasonable one in Arizona, is that you can't spend the money on going out and buying a big screen TV or buying a car or, or spending it on your favorite restaurant. It has to be loosely defined as an education expenditure. I mean, you can even use it for special needs educational expenditures if you need to, um, or private tutors or homeschool curriculum. It just has to be an education expenditure. And the government cannot say that you have to have CRT curriculum or this type of common core. They can't do anything like that. And, um, uh, so make sure you read the test text of the bill, and if there aren't any regulations in it, you should fight like hell against those regulations, not against the bill itself, because, uh, the politicians can always, uh, amend out any regulations that are owners.
Speaker 0 00:40:50 Yeah. Now of course we wanna have a light touch, but at the same time, um, I can just see a scenario where if, uh, there's no oversight about what parents are using the funds for, and they are using it to, uh, just get a new car or a new, um, extension on their house, uh, or something really crazy. I mean, this is something that opponents of this legislation will jump on and say mm-hmm
Speaker 1 00:41:19 <affirmative>, and they do
Speaker 0 00:41:19 Look, I mean, this is just, uh, opening up an avenue for fraud and abuse.
Speaker 1 00:41:25 Yeah, but the thing is, I mean, look, you looked at Arizona, did an audit on this, and I think it was like less than 1% of the time that something like this happened. And then you look at the fraud at other programs in the government school system, like the Federal Lunch program, which I'm not, you know, arguing against that, but their fraud rates are higher. And you, you see stories all the time with public school administrators committing fraud. And it's like, okay, based on your logic that we can't have school choice because fraud happens less than 1% of the time while in the government school system, it's happening. What the 3% of the time or more, or I would even argue if they're spending it on education, they're not actually educating the kids. So most of the funding is actually fraudulent in a sense that they're not providing inadequate education, but that we don't have to go there. But their logic is, okay, let's let's abolish all government schools because, um, sometimes you might have fraud. I know as the libertarians watching this might say, Yeah, it's okay. Yeah. Let's, let's run with
Speaker 0 00:42:16 That audience. Do you have a couple of questions there? And I didn't, I didn't necessarily go to them, but does some people say, Why aren't we talking about school choice wouldn't be better to rip the bandaid off and
Speaker 1 00:42:25 Of all Well, I can answer that question too, and look, if you wanna make the argument and look horn, uh, Jacob Hornberger just made this argument on the Bob Murphy show. I think a lot of people were saying that he was arguing against school choice, but I don't think he actually was. He was pretty much saying that, you know, if you wanna take the incremental wins, go ahead. But I'm not, he wasn't personally gonna fight for school choice, and instead he wanted to fight for abolishing the system altogether. Great Hornberger can make that argument and other people in the libertarian movement can make that argument too, and see if it catches hold. And I'm not gonna fight against you for making that argument. And if it, and if, and if you can successfully get that passed in state legislature, go ahead and do it. Uh, but I'm gonna go over here on the Overton window and I'm gonna make the school choice argument, which is an incremental victory, a step in the right direction.
Speaker 1 00:43:15 And at the same time, I would expect that you don't trash on my efforts and I won't trash trash on your efforts, um, with a separate policy. And, you know, if you're successful, great. But, you know, it's a lot li less likely to to happen. I don't see any state where that's gonna happen anytime soon. But maybe, uh, later on when people become more okay with the idea that you don't have, that, the government doesn't have to run the schools. I mean, just think about it like with food stamps. We have food stamp vouchers basically, and we directly give the funding to the parents, so low income families, and they can take that money to any private provider. Like none of the grocery stores need to be run by the government, even though that's a basic good, a basic need. Well, defenders of the status quo will say, Oh, we have to have the government run, uh, schools because it's a basic need.
Speaker 1 00:44:04 Food is even more basic, and we don't have to have the government running the grocery stores perhaps if you wanna have some funding for the least advantage, you have food stamp type of thing. And you can imagine a scenario like that working out for education as well, where government doesn't run any of the schools, it's all privately provided perhaps you have some funding through and a a a a school choice voucher system. Um, but if people are more likely to use private education and society overall is more likely to see that people are making choices and making okay choices for their kids and they're doing better than they would've done in the status quo, maybe that'll be a more likely policy position to, to, um, pass in the future. I just don't see it happening in today's day. And if, if you, but look, if you wanna find a legislator and there, there are some pretty, um, uh, radical legislators who are, are, are willing to run bills that, that they wanna, that even if they don't think it's gonna pass, let 'em run it and see what happens.
Speaker 0 00:45:04 So, uh, I'd love to get to, and this may be overlapping again with your book on on myths, run us through the basic arguments. Yeah. The top three or four, uh, arguments that, uh, Randy we garden, whether, um, authentically, sincerely, or disingenuously used, uh, against them. I mean, I hear them, Well, you're going to be taking kids out of the, the schools and that's gonna hurt the, the kids that are left behind or, um, you know, this and that. Yeah. So, so what, what, what are their top uh, top arguments against them? How would you demolish them?
Speaker 1 00:45:44 Yeah, the kids don't belong to the government school system. So we're not taking the kids from anything but their, like, their main argument is this will, you know, giving families a choice, will defund school choice will defund the public schools. And to which I respond with a rhetorical question, which is, well, why would giving families a choice defund the public schools? They never respond to me. They'll probab, they usually block me on Twitter because there's no good argument, there's no good response. They'll have to admit that they understand families aren't happy with what they're getting in the government schools. And their solution is to force them to stay put particularly low income families who don't have the means or resources today to afford to pay for private school tuition and fees out of pocket. So they'll, they'll either block me, but yeah, they'll, there are, they'll have to respond that, well, it's because families will leave.
Speaker 1 00:46:25 They'll go to the private schools and it's like, okay, um, that's a good argument for choice, not against it. Uh, the other response that they'd have to my rhetorical question is even worse, they would say, Oh, well the public schools are actually better. But you know, these parents who are choosing and using these programs are low income parents. And, you know, they might, they're not education experts, and so they're just choosing schools that aren't better for their kids, and they're being fooled by advertising. And this one really blows up in their face. I mean, we had a Kentucky representative say this on the floor, I believe in the house, uh, of, uh, while they were running their ESA bill, and there was a democrat who was opposed. And she said something along the lines of, you know, Virginia has a tax credit type of, you know, scholarship program and this, this, it's working well, it's mostly higher income people using this, and they're, they're making choices.
Speaker 1 00:47:16 But Kentucky, you know, this is, you know, this is gonna be a, a program targeted to lower income families, and do we, do we really expect, you know, parents to be able to shop around? And then it was just, it went viral because like, dude, parents can make their decisions for their own kids regardless of their income better than any freaking bureaucrat sitting in offices hundreds of miles away. Parents care about their kids more than anybody else, and they generally have more information about their educational needs than anybody else. Look, I don't need to be a mechanic to be able to choose my mechanic. I don't need to be a car manufacturer to choose my car dealership or the car that I purchased. I don't need to be a doctor to be able to choose what type of operation I want to get into or what, what hospital, uh, uh, I go to for checkups.
Speaker 1 00:48:03 I mean, you have heuristics, you can, there are experts that exist, yes, but people can still make the decisions for their own families. I'm not a nutritionist, but I can go to the freaking grocery store and figure it out, and so can low income families at the same time. Uh, so that's their main argument. And but that argument also assumes that the money belongs to the schools. So I also respond by saying the money doesn't belong to the government schools. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for propping up and protecting a particular institution, whether that's public or private, allowing families to choose their grocery store. Doesn't defund Safeway doesn't steal money from Safeway because that money, even if we're using taxpayer funding, like through food stamps, doesn't belong to any of the institutions. It's meant for feeding or educating the individual family. And the families have a choice in all, in all of those other, um, uh, scenarios as well.
Speaker 1 00:49:00 Right? And we already do this with higher education, with the Pell Grants. We do this with pre-K programs, and you don't hear any of these arguments from the unions when it comes to those, um, uh, high other levels of educations and, and of education. And the problem is, the difference is that choice is the norm for higher education, pre-K and everything else, but choice threatens the teacher unions and entrenched special interest only when it comes to K to 12 education. So they fight as hard as possible against any change to the status quo. And my last response to this argument, because it, it is their main one is that with these initiatives, they're passed at the state level, it's typically only half of the total funding. Like in Arizona, the government schools spend 14,000 a kid. The ESA funding amount that follows a child is only about half, It's only about 7,000 per kid.
Speaker 1 00:49:50 It's the state level portion of funding. The government schools keep the, the local funding and the federal funding, so on a per student basis, they actually end up with high per per pupil revenues and expenditures. It doesn't defund them. They end up actually more well funded on a per student basis. Just imagine if you stopped shopping at Safeway and you started shopping at Trader Joe's or Walmart and Safeway got to keep half of your grocery funding each week. It wouldn't make any sense. That'd be a good deal for Safeway. And I'd argue this is a good deal that the public schools get to keep any money at all for students who are no longer educating. And it could also benefit the taxpayers even if the public schools are keeping some of the money, because like in Arizona, it's 90% of the state level, so that's a 10% buffer that could go back to the taxpayers at the same time.
Speaker 1 00:50:37 It's a win-win when situation. And the heart of this argument is also, they, they also try to say that this is gonna hurt the kids who are left behind. I think you kind of mentioned this, 28 studies exist on this topic, 25 of 28 studies on the topic, find that private school choice competition actually leads to better outcomes in the public schools. So competition school choice is a rising tide that lifts all boats. It doesn't destroy the public schools. It actually makes them better because the public schools, um, believe it or not, actually up their game in response to competition. And if they don't up their game, well, maybe they deserve to be destroyed.
Speaker 0 00:51:17 All right. Uh, we've got about eight more minutes. Um, and I definitely wanna get to what is going on with, uh, homeschooling and how it's changed and grown in recent years. A quick question here from Roger Hoffman asking what was the C3 and C4 group Corey mentioned it's the American Federation for Children, uh, where he is, uh, a senior fellow. Um, I did, this was a really, I thought a very thoughtful question, Abby, uh, 43 on Instagram. What would happen to the 400,000 plus foster kids under a school voucher or school choice system?
Speaker 1 00:51:56 So some school choice programs actually start small and, um, don't go all in at first. I think the better approaches to go in all, all in at first, and I know this is a, it's a side note, but, um, for a long time in the school choice movement, we've thought that if we could just start small and expand later, it'll be more likely that we'll get some Democrats aboard and it'll be more likely that we won't face fierce opposition and, um, uh, we'll be able to expand later. The thing is, the teachers unions fear monger as much as possible and oppose the bills, whether you go 1% or a hundred percent. And at the same time, when we go 1%, we deflate our own proponents of the bill. Some of those moms showing up at school board meetings complaining at crt, they might as well, they, they might come out against it even and say, Look, I'm not benefiting from this.
Speaker 1 00:52:48 Um, why isn't it available to all students? Everybody's guaranteed a public education. And, um, the better approach, I think, to keep our side mobilized and, uh, starting from a bar better bargaining position when we go in and have legislators, if they wanna amend it, let down later, fine, um, is to start big, especially when we don't silence our opponents and don't get, and if it doesn't lead to enough Democrats switching over and supporting the bill in the short term. Right? But as far as foster students, some of those bills have, uh, started small incr just limiting it to like groups like the military, foster students, um, lower income groups, and it'll expand by adding, you know, sometimes it's special needs students, uh, are only eligible for some of the programs. I think like 21 of the programs nationwide at at least started. And they were specifically for students with special needs. And then they've expanded, like in Arizona, their, uh, ESA that just went all in last year was already about 25% of the population that was eligible for the education savings accounts. And it really started with special needs populations. And then they started adding like, you know, foster and, and military and other groups. And then they just went all in and said, You know what? Everybody should have this, this choice. Um, so yeah, that, I mean, foster students, um, would, would, would be eligible as well
Speaker 0 00:54:16 Would benefit just like everybody else. Yeah. All right. Uh, homeschooling, what is happening? Um, how is it, I know it's growing. I'd love to hear more about that, but also maybe how has it, how has it evolved?
Speaker 1 00:54:30 Yeah, so it's, uh, it's definitely grown. Uh, the US census bureau's latest data that I've seen over the pandemic period is that homeschooling doubled relative to pre pandemic levels. That's huge. Um, you know, about 2 million students have left the government school system according to the latest data that I have seen. Charter school enrollment has actually jumped by about 7% nationwide, with about 340,000 additional students enrolled in public charter schools, which are kind of like private public quasi entities. They're run, they're not run by the government, but they are more heavily regulated by the government than a pure private school. But look, charter schools have seen, uh, substantial, uh, uh, bumps and then homeschooling the same census year data. Uh, the us the American Pulse Survey by the US Census Bureau indicated that the groups that were increasing the fastest were different from what we've seen historically.
Speaker 1 00:55:26 And in particular, it was black families quadrupled their homeschool enrollment over the pandemic period relative to pre pandemic levels. So the overall average was double black families quadrupled the, um, the, uh, enrollment in homeschooling. So that's a shift. And then also just, you know, uh, there are variations of home based education, right? It's not just one on one. It it could be one-on-one with you and your kid, but you could also have a private tutor that's in the household. You can have homeschool co-ops, um, and homeschool community groups where you have one parent teaching English, another parent teaching math. And then, so you can kind of economize on the process of homeschooling, where you, you could probably still work four or five days a week, but then you just have your one day that you teach, um, one of the subjects. Or you could, we've, we've really seen these pandemic pods that s sprouted up over the pandemic period. I like to call them micro schools, where families get together in a household, five to 10 students. Uh, you only need, it's not one on one, so it's not pure homeschooling with your own parent unless it's it's your parent running the shop. Um, but, but that
Speaker 0 00:56:37 Might be a good option, you know, parents that have to work and
Speaker 1 00:56:41 Yes, exactly right.
Speaker 0 00:56:43 And even or really want work and, and, uh, yeah. So that, that would be a hybrid situation where parents would switch off or they'd hire tutors and
Speaker 1 00:56:53 Yep. And yeah, so it doesn't even have to be, the parent could be a, a, a professional teacher. You can get start poached in the teachers from the public school system that who are the best, who
Speaker 0 00:57:01 Aren't really
Speaker 1 00:57:02 Happy with
Speaker 0 00:57:02 What they're thinking.
Speaker 1 00:57:04 And this is actually happening already in Arizona. Um, we've seen a lot of growth in something called Preda Micro Schools. It's one of their biggest providers in micro schools in Arizona. Another
Speaker 0 00:57:16 Question. Great.
Speaker 1 00:57:17 Yeah. E even even before this mass victory, they, when they already had like, you know, like 12,000 students enrolled with ESAs before it went all in, um, Preto was already expanding heavily in Arizona. He already had families using education savings, account funding to pay for tuition at Preto Micro schools, which is a form I'd say of home based education. And, uh, so that's, that's an option that I really expect if we see more ESA victories to just blossom all across the country where whatever states have ESAs and we've, we've seen other providers besides Preda popping up, especially over the pandemic period as well. I would be interested to see some, like, there was something called like unschool.school that came up, um, a couple, like a year ago or so. But the idea behind it, and I don't know if what, where they're at in their business model right now, but this was, I think is, is the future of education one, partially being homeschooling and micro schooling and more personalized education, self student directed education, but also kind of like an uber of education where you have an app and you can choose your education provider using your ESA funds on the app, much like you would choose to shop for anything else.
Speaker 1 00:58:32 And that could look like a lot of different way, it could look like a brick and mortar private school. It could look like, um, a private tutor. Um, it, it could look like, uh, look, taking three classes from one school and then, and then having some type of hybrid scenario where you're homeschooling one day and you're, and we're, they're already doing hybrid homeschooling, so ha, having some type of app would be a, a, I would say a profitable business venture. But it would also be empowering for parents, especially if they had more, uh, uh, school choice funding available like they do in Arizona.
Speaker 0 00:59:08 I love it. Well, that brings us to the top of the hour. This has been just, uh, a real breath of fresh air. You know, there's a lot of things that aren't, uh, bright spots in our society and in politics, but, uh, with Cory at the, uh, forefront, we are making huge strides in, um, in choice and in freedom in education. And it's, uh, it's looking up. So, uh, we'll let you get back out at Cory cuz we wanna see, uh, Arizona's, uh, legislation duplicated throughout all of our states. So thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:59:48 Yeah, totally. Thanks so much for the opportunity and, uh, uh, have, have a great, uh, uh, gala next, next
Speaker 0 00:59:54 Week, gala. It's coming up tomorrow. Uh, yes. So for all of those, or tomorrow we're watching who are joining us, we are gonna tomorrow have a full day of, uh, panels on Objectiveism and various topics. And then the evenings festivities began at five 30. So hopefully you all have bought your tickets. We'll see you there. If you enjoyed this video, please consider making tax deductible donation to the Atla Society, um, at atla society.org. And, uh, join us next week if I'm still standing, we're going to be talking to Dr. Homan Ma. Uh, he's a, uh, been on the forefront of, um, the fight against lockdowns and mandates and so I'm very excited about that upcoming show. So thanks everyone. See you very soon. Thanks Corey.