Next steps logo

The week in school choice: Current events

Ahead of this week’s expected confirmation vote on Betsy DeVos, more facts are beginning to puncture the myths spawned by problematic media coverage — on her extensive Florida ties and political involvement, on misinformation and bad math that cloud the real state of Detroit’s charter schools, on her nuanced record on LGBT rights. Protests and politicking continue, but her confirmation is still seen as likely.

Hope everyone’s ready for Catholic Schools Week. We’ll have more on that in a few days.


Point:  The case for a nationwide tax credit scholarship program.

Counterpoint: The case for keeping the feds out of school choice initiatives.

How can a Trump administration square this circle? Perhaps by tweaking existing policies to make them more choice-friendly — like, for example, making Title I funds portable. (The relationship between federal funding and parental choice could be a hot issue in the coming months, and we’ll have more on it soon.)

As we often say, the real action is in the statehouse, where the forecast for education savings accounts is rosy.

The history of black families and school choice. What’s that got to do with DeVos?

Charter school advocates showed up in Orlando for the latest NAACP hearing on charter schools. Did they change any minds?

Education reformers discuss ways to overcome the politics of the Trump era.

School choice navigators … as a job benefit.

The New Orleans Marriott is one of 11 hotels in the city (eight of them Marriotts) that recently began offering one-on-one school guidance and mentoring to employees as an option, like dental care or an IRA, in their job benefits package. Employees who sign up are matched with EdNavigator, a new nonprofit that aims to provide lower-income parents with the extensive school engagement that is usually a perquisite of the affluent.

Race, residential segregation and economic inequity in New York City Schools.

Some of the best public elementary schools in New York City are in Community School District 3, on Manhattan’s West Side. At those schools, the vast majority of children pass the annual state tests, gifted and talented programs buzz with activity, and special programs attract promising young musicians or families who want a progressive approach to education.

But none of those schools are in Harlem.

In District 3’s Harlem schools, there are no gifted and talented programs. Of the six elementary schools there where students take the state tests, only one comes close to the citywide passing rates of 38 percent in reading and 36 percent in math. At one school, only 6 percent of third- through eighth-grade students passed the most recent math tests.

Microschools educate students “on a more human level.”

Districts and charter schools can collaborate.

School choice can promote pluralism, tolerance and the common good. Including in Islamic schools.

Tweets of the Week

Ed reformers weigh in on current events.

The Week in School Choice is our weekly compendium of news and notes from around the country. Sign up here to get it in your inbox, and send links, tips, pushback or feedback to tpillow[at]sufs[dot]org.

Avatar photo

BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at)