Skip To Content

Orthodox Organizations Have a Right to Support Betsy DeVos

Jay Michaelson, in his column dated Nov. 28th, slanders Orthodox Jewish organizations for their support of President Elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education — Betsy DeVos — because we dare to support policies promoting “school choice.”

We at OU Advocacy have consistently supported funding for quality public schools; we just think fairness dictates that some resources go to non-public schools as well. In New York City alone, 13% of K-12 students are in non-public schools yet they only receive 1% of the state’s education budget. We don’t believe that supporting school choice and supporting our public schools need to be mutually exclusive.

While Michaelson and I could have a substantive debate about the merits of school choice proposals and the contours of the Establishment Clause, his descent into diatribe suggests he wouldn’t be interested.

Michaelson assails “some foolish Orthodox Jewish organizations,” which I suppose includes the Orthodox Union, calling us “modern-day Esaus exchanging the birthright of American democracy for a bowl of voucher porridge.”

Michaelson seems to believe that a constituency group pursuing its self-interest is un-American, even though the founders describe in the Federalist Papers deliberately setting up a system of government designed to harness precisely such energy in the service of democracy.

Moreover, Michaelson seems to be unable to comprehend that we support school choice not only out of self-interest and a sense of fairness described above, but also on the basis of other principles — including that parents should be empowered to guide their children’s education at that doing so shouldn’t be a privilege only for those with high income.

Nathan J. Diament
Executive Director
OU Advocacy Center

Thanks for reading this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war and rising antisemitism.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Support our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.