Millennial parents are right to support school choice

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This November, Arizona voters will decide whether the state's parents should get to choose what education is best for their children. Arizona has long been working to give parents this choice. In 2011, it became the first state to implement Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for select families, to help them attain academic excellence. Just last year, the Grand Canyon State became the first state to make ESAs available to all families. This year, however, Arizona voters will be voting on a ballot referendum to decide whether the ESA expansion will continue.

Millennials could play a significant role in making that decision. Not only are millennials a considerable voting bloc, they are also becoming parents. When it comes to their children's education, Millennials know what they want: school choice.

And they have good reason.

With ESAs, parents can decide to enroll their children in online classes, private school, community college, or homeschool—whatever they feel is best—without fearing that they will be unable to afford these choices. When a parent withdraws a child from public school, ESAs allow parents to use a government-issued debit card to use the child's public, per-pupil funding to cover authorized educational costs such as tuition for online classes, private schools or community colleges, or homeschool curricula.

Other forms of school choice offer similar benefits. Charter schools for example, are established by independent innovators but receive public funding in return for reporting and accountability requirements. Similarly, voucher programs allow parents to use a portion of their child's public per-pupil funding to help cover the cost of tuition at a preferred private school.

These programs are truly improving student performance.

These programs are truly improving student performance.

In Milwaukee, school choice students are more likely to enroll in college and remain in college than their public school peers, according to a study by the Urban Institute. Students in Florida's program are more likely to enroll in college than their peers by almost 15 percent, according to the Urban Institute, and in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Education found that school choice vouchers improved reading levels by an equivalent of 3.1 months of learning when compared to public school reading levels.

Unlike the school choice programs in Milwaukee, Florida, and DC, which are available only to qualifying disadvantaged and minority students, New Orleans' program is available to everyone. Since the program's birth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, average student performance improved by 15 points, according to the Education Research Alliance, and African-American students are now outperforming their peers in statewide assessments and graduation rates, according to New Schools for New Orleans.

School choice is also improving academic performance abroad. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests 15-year olds around the world in science, mathematics, and reading every three years. According to data from PISA 2015 and EdChoice, 70 percent of the countries that outperformed the United States in reading offer school choice programs. The same is true for 65 percent of countries who outperformed the U.S. in science, and for 57 percent of countries who outperformed us in mathematics.

It's no surprise, then, that school choice programs are popular in the U.S. A 2017 Beck Research survey found that 68 percent of Americans support school choice programs.

Support among millennials is even more robust. The Beck survey found that three-quarters of millennials favored school choice.

Critics, however, condemn choice programs for reducing academic performance and for promoting segregation.

Some studies find that school choice programs reduce academic performance because they do not offer real choice. The The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) studied 72 countries and concluded that regulatory barriers preventing schools from offering different perspectives, curricula, or teaching styles, render choice meaningless.

The Education Research Alliance study in New Orleans echoed these findings, noting that school leaders there believed a critical reason for their success was the system's flexibility, especially in personnel management, allowing leaders to hire and fire teachers as they felt best, free from state constraints and union contracts.

Absent the flexibility underpinning school choice, we should not expect to see its advantages.

Absent the flexibility underpinning school choice, we should not expect to see its advantages.

As for segregation, the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution found that school choice programs are more likely to be located in areas with greater need. Therefore, the appearance of segregation is no surprise. Brookings suggested a better measure of segregation is to compare changes in community demographics over time to changes in school demographics. Using this measure, Brookings found no meaningful relationship between segregation and school choice.

Even in New Orleans' universal school choice systems, where critics claimed that selective schools would pick high-achieving students and leave disadvantaged and minority students behind, Brookings found no increases in segregation, and 71 percent of students, including disadvantaged and minority students, were accepted into their first choice schools.

Millennial parents can expand on these developments. They care deeply about diversity. In employment, they look for companies that practice diversity, and they shop with brands that reflect their values, even when cheaper or more convenient brands are available. As schools compete for our dollars they will be rewarded for reflecting our values, driving them and their competitors to similarly pursue diversity and excellence.

Millennials certainly don't have all of the answers, but with school choice they do see an opportunity to do better for their children than the status quo did for us. Now it's up to voters and our politicians to help us take it.

Kristiana Bolzman is a writer for Young Voices, and works at a free market think tank in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can be found on Twitter @KristianaBolzmn.

The great beyond. What does it hide from us? Do unknown lifeforms linger in the dark? In other words, was David Bowie right? Is there life on Mars? The head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department contends that, yes, there is. Well, not that there's life on Mars. I'll explain in just a minute.

In an academic article for the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Dr. Avi Loeb, the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, claimed that an alien probe entered our solar system. He claimed that it is masked as the space rock Oumuamua (Ow-moo-ah-moo-ah), "the first interstellar object to enter our solar system." It turns out that "space rock" is way more than a musical genre.

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In his own words:

Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment.

His evidence? pointed to the space rock's abnormal acceleration, activity which he gathered via the Hubble Space Telescope.

He added that "the lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargo between planets."

Sounds a bit like Star Wars, no? Or are you more of a Star Trek fan? Either way, it's an odd thing to hear from the head of Harvard University's Astronomy Department. Typically, we hear these sorts of things from the darker corners of the History Channel.

Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore.

"I don't care what people say," Loeb said. "It doesn't matter to me. I say what I think, and if the broad public takes an interest in what I say, that's a welcome result as far as I'm concerned, but an indirect result. Science isn't like politics: It is not based on popularity polls."

Honestly, I believe the guy. Well, I'll say that, at this point, I'm not really surprised. It's 2019. I'm not surprised by anything anymore. Heck, I welcome alien lifeforms. Maybe they can give us some advice on how to get our world together.

The third annual Women's March is approaching, and the movement has shown signs of strife. It's imploding, really. An article in Tablet Magazine revealed deep-seated antisemitism among the co-chairs of the movement, which is funny for a movement that brands itself as a haven of "intersectionality." The examples pile up, and just yesterday there was another. I'll tell you about it in a minute.

The Women's March has been imploding, and it started at the very top. Four women have come to represent the diverse face of the movement, the co-chairs: Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland.

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Increasingly, we've learned that anti-Semitism is common among these women.

Teresa Shook, who founded the Women's March has repeatedly asked them to step down: The co-chairs "have steered the Movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship," Shook wrote. "But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs."

Tamika Mallory gave us the latest example, by continuing to stand by Louis Farrakhan. Check out Tamika's arrogant, nonsensical response. But the real problem came at the end of Mallory's rambling non-answer.



Women's March Leader Tamika Mallory Doubles Down On Love For Louis Farrakhan youtu.be


Later this week I'll go over the entire controversy on Glenn TV. It's harrowing, really. For now, I'll leave you with this. Critics of 4th wave feminism have argued that the radical identity politics of the left will lead to the exact kind of mistreatment that feminists claim to be against. That argument has been written off as using the slippery slope fallacy. But, as we see with the Women's March, it is in fact a brutal reality.

Remember how serious Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were last week, when they gave their "rebuttal" to President Trump's address? They made it seem like this government shutdown is apocalyptic. A lot of Democrats have done the same. On social media and CNN at least. Thirty Democrats, however, took a different route. Puerto Rico. For cocktails at the beach.

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A group of 30 Democrats have turned the government shutdown into a live-action interpretation of a Jimmy Buffet song:

Nibblin' on sponge cake, Watchin' the sun bake.

No, seriously. In the words of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

Democrats in Congress are so alarmed about federal workers not getting paid they're partying on the beach instead of negotiating a compromise to reopen the government and secure the border.

A photo of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez at a resort beach has gone viral.

They arrived via chartered jet. They're staying at a seaside resort, and attended the ridiculously-priced and overhyped play "Hamilton," where tickets for opening night "ranged from $10 to $5,000," according to the Associated Press. They even attended several afterparties.

Of course, the official occasion seems legit. They're in San Juan for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC. According to a memo for the gathering:

This year's winter retreat promises to be our most widely attended yet with over 220 guests, including 39 Members of Congress and CHC BOLD PAC supporters expected to attend and participate!

Also in attendance, about 109 lobbyists, from a number of places, including "R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association."

Donald Jr. said it well:

And of course no one says anything. I'm not even in government and I'd get killed in the press if I was on vacation right now. Why won't they cover their democrat buddies lobbyist sponsored vacation in the islands???

Maduro takes office and Venezuelans vote with their feet

CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela continues to collapse. A country that used to have the world's largest oil reserves is now in rags. Its money is worthless, with inflation near one million percent. People must work an average of five days at minimum wage just to afford a dozen eggs. But there is one person still pumped about Venezuela's future – its noble president, Nicolas Maduro! I'll tell you why he's still enthusiastic in just a minute…

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro had a stellar 2018. Here are some highlights:

  • Running water and electricity only work occasionally and prices for basic goods doubled.
  • Doctors, engineers, oil workers, and electricians fled the country en masse. Over 48,000 teachers also left the country.
  • Over half a million Venezuelans fled to Peru alone.

Maduro created a new digital currency called the "petro." One petro is supposed to equal the price of a barrel of oil, about $60. U.S. Treasury Department officials call the petro a scam. Who could've seen that coming?

Maduro also announced a 3,000 percent minimum-wage hike. Even Ocasio-Cortez might roll her eyes at that one. Or find it inspiring.

And just yesterday, a Human Rights Watch report detailed how Venezuelan intelligence and security forces are arresting and torturing military personnel and their family members who are accused of plotting against Maduro. The torture includes: "brutal beatings, asphyxiation, cutting soles of their feet with a razor blade, electric shocks, food deprivation, [and] forbidding them to go to the bathroom."

It's so bad in Venezuela that even The Washington Post admits Venezuela's problems are mostly due to "failed socialist policies." But President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised New Year's address calling 2019, "the year of new beginnings." He's pumped, you see, because today he will be sworn in for his second six-year term as president. He was "re-elected" last May in an election that the international community declared illegitimate.

Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency.

Maduro doesn't have many friends left at home or abroad. Thirteen nations released a statement last week urging Maduro not to take office and saying they would not recognize his presidency. This week, the U.S. added more Venezuelan officials to its sanctions list.

In a press conference yesterday, Maduro said:

There's a coup against me, led by Washington. I tell our civilians and our military to be ready. Our people will respond.

I think the people of Venezuela who have the means are already responding – by leaving.