Catholic Republicans Wavering on DeVos Detrimental To The Catholic Homeschooling Community

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Two Catholic Republican Senators are reportedly defecting from the rest of their conservative colleagues by stating their planned ‘No’ vote on confirming Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

These Senators, Republicans Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, recently accepted funds from the National Education Association (NEA), a teachers’ union group.

Murkowski’s Office put out a statement explaining her ‘no’ vote, saying the Senator heard from “thousands of Alaskans” who were concerned about DeVos. Along with her, Collins voiced her fear that DeVos would devote all of her energy to vouchers and lacks an understanding of public schools and their governing regulations.

This is a strange and misguided decision for Senators who have raised and can continue to raise significantly more from conservative groups and private donors than the NEA contributed, provided they uphold conservative values. Paramount among these values is freedom of choice in education.

Catholics in particular are a driving force in the advancement of new educational institutions, forming charter and other private schools as well as homeschool co-ops. Collins and Murkowski, both of the Catholic faith, would hardly be shocked to find that in their own community, families often look outside public schools for the best education for their children.

In resisting Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, Murkowski and Collins are joining with the party that has been holding back educational advances that benefit poor children — all for a few thousand dollars and an “A grade” from the organization that gives Democrats millions to defend its agenda in the legislature.

Meanwhile, lay Catholics have been leading the charge to get the government out of the business of regulating the choices families make for their children’s education.

When Republican Senators fight for conservative causes — particularly those that increase choice and quality in a child’s education — conservative support will undoubtedly pour in for them in return. If NEA funding is withdrawn from these Senators after voting for DeVos, enthusiastic conservatives families would, without a doubt, happily make up the difference in the form of financial and political support.

Families know that public schools are underperforming, especially in low-income areas. Many of these schools deprive students of any moral education and it is no surprise that Catholic families are looking to Murkowski and Collins, as Catholic Senators, for help in fighting the regulations burdening alternative schooling options such as homeschool co-ops or vouchers for Catholic charter or private schools.

After such a momentous presidential election, where American Catholics resoundingly supported a candidate that favored school of choice, Murkowski and Collins would do well to give their defection second thoughts.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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  1. Bernie McMahon on

    What I have not seen discussed is where will the funding of “school choice” & vouchers come from. Will the money be pulled out of the public school systems? I’m certain the taxpayers aren’t going to be at all happy if public education funds are siphoned away to support private schooling.

    Just as an aside, the Catholic high school I attended many years ago now charges tuition of $14,800 per year; it was $150 years ago.

    • The taxpayers now funnel enormous amounts of money to public schools and get lousy results. As far as I’m concerned, they can funnel money from them to fund alternatives.

      Recall that in your day at Catholic High School, likely many of the instructors/staff were religious; now they are lay people.

    • Bernie, in the 50s and 60s my parents and my wife and I were faced with the very question of funding. We got NONE! Even when my boys went off to college there was no grant money because we had too few kids.

      Is the author of this article log trying to disparage the Republican NO votes by saying Collins and Murkowski, both of the Catholic faith? I know Susan Collins and she has always demonstrated clear thinking.

      In the days when Nuns were in abundance Catholic Schools were a model of parochial education. Once in a while we had to dodge the ruler, but we were happy, obedient and smart.

      In the past parents were charged a tuition fee for each child attending a parochial school. At the same time they paid public school taxes to support that Constitutional edict. For many that places non[public tuition schools out of reach. That is the problem to solve. DeVos is ill equipped to devote her attention to the public side because she and her Amway husband are full into private schooling.

      • “DeVos is ill equipped to devote her attention to the public side because she and her Amway husband are full into private schooling.”

        This is an argument? An ad-hominem?

        The public side has plenty of attention and plenty of money. The system needs reform, not more money.

        BTW, people who elect to send kids to parochial school still pay property taxes along with tuition at the parochial school.

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