Putting Teacher Unions First


Democrats, doing the bidding of their master the NEA, are attacking another successful voucher program. The four-year-old Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to about 2,000 low-income children so they can attend religious or other private schools, is set to expire at the end of the year, and Democrats are refusing to extend it.

A WSJ article and Senate Conservatives Fund blog do a good job of summarizing the situation.

I particularly like William Gangware’s letter to the editior.

Putting Poor Children’s Future Last

Your editorial “Putting Children Last” (June 11) got it right: Ending the federal voucher program in Washington, D.C., does nothing to help poor students, many of whom are dependent upon the program to attend the school of their choice.

Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.), proposing an end to D.C.’s innovative Opportunity Scholarship Program — the nation’s first federal voucher program allowing low-income students to leave failing schools and attend private alternatives — told the Washington Post “We have to protect the children, who are the truly innocent victims here.”

Protect them from what? If Ms. Norton truly cares about the children, many of them from low-income, minority families, why does she demand they relinquish their much-needed scholarships and return to D.C. public schools, where a dismal 57.6% of all high-school students graduate?

The reason is simple: Ms. Norton is more concerned with protecting the public schools, which systematically fail to adequately educate and graduate students in the poorest districts of the U.S.

Federal vouchers for school choice are the only protection that low-income D.C. students have against their failing public schools. It’s time to quit playing politics and start supporting school choice policies that actually benefit the lowest-income members of society — the very constituency these politicians claim they want to protect.

William Gangware

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3 Responses to “Putting Teacher Unions First”

  1. osuadamr Says:

    You know very little about the public education system in the this country and the amazing strides it has made for underprivileged youth against all odds. If you think school choice is the ultimate solution, then why don’t we just label all schools failing and start over with a system of private schools, totally outside of govt control. Then things will be perfect!

  2. letschooseschools Says:

    You are saying that either all the public schools are good or they are all bad.

    Perhaps you know very little about how free enterprise competition improves the quality and efficiency of any product or service. Improvement, but not perfection.

    Take the example of the restaurant industry. If one restaurant served you a bad meal, you would probably take your restaurant dollars to another eatery. Surely the rational customer would.

    Now suppose the government was in the restaurant business. You could eat at your neighborhood “public restaurant” for free (after you had been taxed for the cost). You couldn’t eat at any “public restaurant” outside of your neighborhood.

    Some of the “public restaurants” may serve excellent food. But suppose only one restaurant served bad (or even poisonous) food, and one low-income person, who could not afford the cost of a meal at a private restaurant, was forced to either eat the bad food or starve. Would it now be just to let that one person find better food and force the bad “public restaurant” to pay the tab? Shouldn’t that one bad restaurant be penalized for serving bad food? Otherwise the bad restaurant has no motivation to improve their food.

    It’s called free enterprise. It always works better than a government monopoly.

  3. Manny Says:

    Education, regardless of it being private or public, is an institution, not a service or product-based business.

    So tell me, if education works just like business, what is the service or product for which you are paying when you go to an institution?

    * Is it the diploma/degree? (for that, you are required to do work to achieve that diploma/degree)
    * Is it the class instruction? (where you are required to obtain the notes, participate in the discussion, study and pass the test?)

    The success does not come from the school, but the ability and discipline of the member of that institution to navigate successfully within said institution.

    Name an service or industry that sells you a product that depends on you to do all of the work. You could say that a car kit could be an example. Let’s say you purchase a car kit that you have to assemble in order to use it. But let’s face it, that isn’t a great example to compare to schools, as you can always pay someone else to built it. Yet, an institution won’t let you do that.

    In the private marker, as with the car kit, you always have the option to bail yourself out with cash. At best for an example, you could posit the idea that a private club, an institution, of sorts, which allows you to use cash to bail you out. (You have to pay dues, then you have to keep up with the joneses in order to stay in the club, you have to buy so many meals, you have to own a nice car, because let’s face it, who wants to be in a country club where people park their Honda Civics, etc.)

    I still can’t come up with an example that doesn’t involve an institution or the option to bail yourself out with cash.

    Imagine if in order to have an expensive cellphone, but you had to pass a standardized test as a customer on how well you know how to use that phone and if you don’t pass, you can’t have a phone.

    Furthermore, if your top of the line cellphone is owned by a bunch of wingnuts as well, then does it reduce the effectiveness of YOUR phone? Does it ruin your phone’s functionality? That is what happens to an institution. An institution’s value does not only come from YOUR experience at the institution, but it is also determined by the success of ALL the others that come out of that institution. After 15 years out of college, a bad scandal involving several students you did not know, but graduated at the same time rocks the institution from which you hold a degree, suddenly, your degree looks bad.

    Another thought: You can own a car, and not drive it because you decided that not passing the test was not important to you, but you cannot join an institution and not pass the tests required and expect to stay a member of that institution, regardless of how well you paid your dues on time, because your presence in the institution reflects poorly on it. In a school, they will eventually not let you stay in classes, or in a country club, they would give you the boot.

    In the private sector, things don’t work that way, you want the phone, you have the means to buy it, you do so.

    In the institution, if you are dumber than a bag of hammers, unless you’re grandfather’s name is Prescott and owns tons of standard oil, you ain’t getting a degree from Yale, regardless of how much “big” money you throw at them.

    If you want school choice, check out 4J schools in Lane County, Oregon. We have school choice because the people demanded it and they voted the right people into office and we have a community that cares not just about how well THEIR kid does, but they want to make sure their neighbor’s kid does well too, because if the neighbor’s kid does just as well as their kid, they will live in a better world. That is a hard concept for many conservatives, you know that your actions might actually impact mine.

    One more note, where’s the scarcity in education? Isn’t scarcity essential in the free market? For some to have something valuable, others cannot have it, that is a principle of free trade and basic business concepts of supply and demand. Does a school’s value diminish because too many people were educated?

    Adam’s economic model based on scarcity does not apply to school and institutions. Look at education vs. food on scarcity. If you have an apple, and no one else has it, is it more valuable? If you have food yet everyone else has food, and you have nothing but your food for trade, then your food is valueless. If everyone has a Harvard education (and earned it), does that mean that Harvard’s degrees become valueless?

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