President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos after a meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J., this month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Nov. 24 front-page article “DeVos a top backer of ‘school choice’” made it clear that President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education is a devotee of the misguided notion that simply by giving people a choice of schools, their children will magically do better. Just as there is no geographic cure for people with mental disorders, we can’t fix students’ poor academic performance by moving them to another school.

The root cause of poor performance in school is poverty. However, politicians know that is an intractable problem, so they focus on bashing teachers, unions, bureaucrats, curriculums, standards and so forth so that they can hit raw nerves and score easy political points. If nothing else, the political climate has driven home the point that to win elections and bolster support, politicians need bogeymen to distract voters from seeing candidates’ own faults.

Until the underlying societal and economic issues are resolved, poverty will continue to drive poor academic performance. When people have decent, well-paying jobs, they are more likely to raise their children in stable households, which has proved to be the single most important factor in achieving better scholastic results.

Paul J. Deceglie, Fairfax