The Reshaping of Educational Funding: AFC’s Mission for Private Education Support

DeVos-Inspired Crusade: Public Money for Private Institutions

Enter the American Federation for Children (AFC), an influential conservative nonprofit brainchild of erstwhile Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. With a staggering $9 million investment in state elections, AFC has lent its support to almost 200 candidates. Many of these political figures now champion legislation designed to funnel public funds toward private schools—a key objective of DeVos’ long-standing agenda. AFC’s fingerprints are all over “school choice” policies passed in at least three states, and similar measures are being introduced elsewhere.

A Crisis in K-12 Education: The Perfect Storm

K-12 education approval has plummeted to a 20-year nadir, and discontent simmers as debates over race and LGBTQ-related curricula escalate. Seizing this opportunity, AFC endeavors to revolutionize how schools are financed nationwide. Their strategy zeroes in on rural Republicans who typically resist school choice, turning the tables in favor of their cause.

The Surge of Private School Sponsorship: Unleashing Legislation

AFC’s financial muscle has triggered a marked upswing in private school subsidies and the enactment of legislation. In the states of Florida, Iowa, and Arkansas, new laws have been inked to empower a wider range of families to tap into public money for private education. Meanwhile, Texas and Georgia are witnessing progress on bills designed to bolster private school funding.

A Divisive Issue: The Controversy Around School Choice

Proponents of school choice, such as DeVos, assert that these policies allow families to pursue superior educational opportunities for their children. Detractors, on the other hand, argue that these measures siphon resources and students from public schools. While DeVos was unable to shepherd school choice bills through Congress during her tenure under Trump, GOP support for such policies has surged in the intervening years.

The AFC’s Financial Backbone: DeVos and Other Philanthropists

Though DeVos has stepped down as the organization’s chair, she and her husband remain influential benefactors, having donated at least $2.5 million to the AFC. Cleveland Browns co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have also contributed to the AFC’s national PAC, providing a cool $1 million, while billionaire banker Jim Walton chipped in $100,000 to bolster the group’s Arizona initiatives.

Turning the Tide: Unseating Incumbents

AFC’s CEO, Tommy Schultz, revealed that the organization had set its sights on 69 incumbent state legislators last year, managing to topple 40 of them. According to Schultz, AFC’s raison d’être revolves around promoting school choice policies and ensuring parents have a say in the decision-making process for education policy.