Betsy DeVos, the Trump Cabinet officer in charge of destroying public education, was in New York City recently, complaining once again about good public policy and vowing to do away with it.
This time, DeVos’ ill-informed scorn was directed at state constitutional provisions, including one in Texas, that prohibit the expenditure of public tax dollars on religious institutions, including schools. She said these restrictions should be “assigned to the ash heap of history” because they stood in the way of privatizing public education.
One of these days, of course , DeVos and the entire Trump administration will be consigned to the ash heap of history, but in the meantime we have to keep fighting their bad ideas, including vouchers and other schemes to convert public schools into revenue sources for business investors and religious institutions.
According to Education Week, which reported on DeVos’ New York trip, 37 states have constitutional bans on spending public funds on faith-based enterprises. Texas’ prohibition, Article 1, Section 7 of the state constitution, states:
“No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.” (Someone should read that to Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.)
In 2000, DeVos helped lead an effort to change the constitution in her home state, Michigan, to allow for school vouchers but failed.
But the fight to save public schools will continue because DeVos has a lot of bad ideas, and her allies in Texas have been ignoring their own state constitution.