News Bite

Washington Post 'Parents Have No Rights' Op-Ed Author Got Michigan School Stories Wrong Too

'Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids school curriculum. They don’t.'

The author of a controversial op-ed in the Washington Post claiming parents have no right to determine what their children should be taught in public schools has a history of erroneous reporting on education-related Michigan topics.

Freelance writer Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, co-authored the Oct. 21 op-ed titled, “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids school curriculum. They don’t.”

In 2019, Berkshire wrote an article for The Nation in which she erroneously tried to blame Michigan Republicans for school budget cuts.

Berkshire said that the Michigan GOP was “increasingly hostile to public education” and added “In Michigan and Wisconsin, voter blacklash against GOP spending cuts to school spending and the growth of school choice at the expense of traditional public schools helped Democrats retake governors’ mansions for the first time since 2011 and powered a blue wave in suburbs that have long been Republican strongholds.”

But Berkshire was wrong about “spending cuts.”

State spending on Michigan’s K-12 schools increased every year during the two terms of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who left office at the end of 2018. In fact, the last state budget bill reducing K-12 funding was approved by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Also, in 2017 Berkshire wrote a story for Alternet titled, “Want to See How School Choice Leads to Segregation? Visit Betsy DeVos’ Hometown.”

“Don’t believe me? Take a look,” it read. Anyone who did look would have discovered Berkshire’s claims lacked factual support.

She wrote, “And as DeVos well understands, a community that has little stake in its schools is unlikely to shell out money to pay for them.”

DeVos was born in Holland. The Holland Public School district put three property tax increases on the local ballot since 2010, and voters approved all three by overwhelming margins. Two of the debt proposals authorized borrowing a total of $73.1 million for improvements in 2010, and a third passed in 2021 for $74.7 million.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.