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The week in school choice: Nationalized

The Senate prepares for a final vote Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary. It’s worth wondering why her nomination — of all the picks in Donald Trump’s cabinet — is so controversial. Some real talk.

Charter school leaders from Florida to California triangulate, criticizing DeVos and school vouchers. Derrell Bradford and the Wall Street Journal argue this is a mistake.

Does it really make sense to nationalize the political debate around an issue that will still be decided at the state and local level?

For her part, DeVos is staffing up and telling states they will have the power.


Civil rights concerns for special needs students figure prominently in Democrats’ attacks on DeVos. They’re motivating some of the grassroots opposition. And they figured prominently in the minority party talking points during a House hearing on school choice. The intersection between school choice and special education law is far more complicated than partisans claim, but it’s an issue school choice advocates had better prepare to talk about.

The congressional school choice push has begun.

What the New England Patriots can teach us about school reform.

School accountability systems need to adapt from those designed to regulate monopolies to those designed to regulate markets.

D.C. public schools may give some parents a leg up in school admissions lotteries based on where they live. Background: District officials want to strike a balance between schools of choice and schools of right. But it’s also worth thinking about the link between property values and educational access — and the role public school choice can have in breaking it.

Speaking of which: The relationship between charter schools and segregation isn’t so simple.

School choice is on the menu in the Kentucky Legislature. Ditto Texas.

How Trump’s Attorney General nominee viewed an education equity lawsuit.

The Atlantic veers into troubled journalistic territory with this article in at least two ways. It argues the Nevada education savings account program that has yet to even be implemented is a failure. And it misconstrues this illustration of the Overton Window as a list of goals — falsely asserting school choice advocates want to end “government schools.”

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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.

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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)