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Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education


The issue is school choice. The opposition is the teachers unions

Shortly after Betsy DeVos was sworn into office as U.S. Secretary of Education, I was invited, as a trustee of Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), to meet with her at the Department of Education. I accepted the invitation with pleasure.

When I posted a picture of myself with DeVos on Facebook, it got some likes from conservative friends and some acerbic comments from others, including my sister, who asked me, “When did you start drinking the Kook-Aid?” I replied to her that I’ve supported school choice for decades and was the only member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to vote for the first school-choice floor amendment in 1994.

Dick Zimmer and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

I am a product of New Jersey public schools, K–12, as are my parents and my children, but ever since I read Milton Friedman’s proposal for school vouchers in “Capitalism and Freedom” as a college freshman, I have been convinced that parents should be allowed to have the government pay for the school they choose for their children, whether it be traditional public, public charter, private, or religious.

There is no reason why all parents shouldn’t be given this choice, but the stakes are particularly high for the poorest families in the inner cities, including those in New Jersey where, despite tens of billions of dollars of supplemental state funding, traditional public schools have abjectly failed to prepare several generations of children for college or a career.


  1. School choice is a game of musical chairs. When it is over everyone cannot leave the “failing” school.

    Some will unfairly be stuck in poor performing schools.

    Families with 4 kids will be driving all over the county. Fix the underperforming schools so that all children can have a high quality education in their own town.

  2. High-quality public education is a hallmark of much of our country and a goal in the rest. Let’s not destroy it.

  3. Fix the schools my ass. Failing schools fail because of an abundance of crappy parents and crappy teachers who are protected by their union.

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