Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama's School Choice

President Obama made education a big part of his speech Tuesday night, complete with a stirring call for reform. So we'll be curious to see how he handles the dismaying attempt by Democrats in Congress to crush education choice for 1,700 poor kids in the District of Columbia.

The omnibus spending bill now moving through the House includes language designed to kill the Opportunity Scholarship Program offering vouchers for poor students to opt out of rotten public schools. The legislation says no federal funds can be used on the program beyond 2010 unless Congress and the D.C. City Council reauthorize it. Given that Democrats control both bodies -- and that their union backers hate school choice -- this amounts to a death sentence

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama spoke of the "historic investment in education" in the stimulus bill, which included a staggering, few-strings-attached $140 billion to the Department of Education over two years. But he also noted that "our schools don't just need more resources; they need more reform," and he expressed support for charter schools and other policies that "open doors of opportunity for our children."

If he means what he says, Mr. Obama won't let his fellow Democrats consign 1,700 more poor kids to failing schools he'd never dream of letting his own daughters attend.

~WSJ Editorial


24 Comments:

At 2/26/2009 9:09 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Amen. School choice is such a slam dunk that I don't see how any intellectually honest person can be against it. How can any Democrat call themselves a defender of the poor and then oppose a program that gives poor parents some of the same advantages afforded to the wealthy? It only make sense if viewed through the prism of appeasing teacher's unions and expanding government. Nothing else makes sense.

 
At 2/26/2009 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So President Barack Obama wants to cut the federal deficit in half by 2013? He can start by downsizing the amount of pork fat flowing to dozens of special interest groups that supported his candidacy.

About a hundred of these groups, including the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Council of La Raza, have already received billions of tax dollars under Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan. Yet they now stand to rake in even more federal money under the $410 billion omnibus spending bill now wending its way through Congress.

How can congressional Democrats possibly justify giving the same organizations that already got a heaping helping of pork in the stimulus bill another scoop in the omnibus bill while taxpayers are suffering?

The rest is Here

The Democrats don't care about poor people or children, they care about power. They care about themselves.

If you're not getting mad, you're not paying attention.

 
At 2/26/2009 10:49 AM, Blogger QT said...

The old cliche still rings true:

You dance with the one that brung ya.

Obama owes these organizations not only for donations but also for the thousands of volunteers who worked on his campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party and subsequently, the President. Elections are won on the ground by volunteers.

Recent noises indicate that Obama has rolled over and played dead on the foreign policy front. What are the chances he can stand up to his own party?

 
At 2/26/2009 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama owes these organizations not only for donations but also for the thousands of volunteers who worked on his campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party ...

That's right, Obama owes them, not the American taxpayers. This is just money laundering. The Democrats funnel tax dollars into these left-wing groups and they in turn spend those dollars to get Democrats elected.

Here's another thing, just who are these government workers organized against? Since when does any group have the right to organize against the people of the United States? It's time to throw them all out on their greedy, selfish asses and reclaim our country.

 
At 2/26/2009 2:39 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

Interesting that Obama sends his kids to a super fancy private school. Even more interesting: this has not become a subject of discussion.

 
At 2/26/2009 3:03 PM, Blogger MBR said...

You guys need to relax about the school thing. The Obama girls are primarily attending that school because it has handled the security of the first family in the past (Chelsea Clinton). Could you even imagine the consequences of one of them being kidnapped? This scenario was played out on The West Wing a few years back and it was quite convincing. A commander in chief would be rendered completely useless should something happen to his children, particularly in the event of a kidnapping/hostage scenario. Security is the greatest concern above all and their choice in that matter should be not used to score cheap political points about vouchers.

 
At 2/26/2009 3:14 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Colin said:

Amen. School choice is such a slam dunk that I don't see how any intellectually honest person can be against it


Always remember Poor Boomer's First Law of Politics:

Whenever the interests of any organized non-pariah constituency conflict with the interests of the poor, the poor lose.

(I added the non-pariah bit to cover potential conflicts with hated groups such as Nazis or sex offenders - in these cases, the poor would usually win.)

In the case of school choise, teachers vote and contribute to political campaigns; poor kids do neither.

 
At 2/26/2009 3:16 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Anonymous said:

If you're not getting mad, you're not paying attention.


I'm already mad, what can I do? Can ACORN be reformed from within? If not, can poor people create their own competing organizations?

 
At 2/26/2009 3:26 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

There always seems to be an excuse for school voucher opponents to send *THEIR* kids to private schools. So what has Obama's excuse been all these years prior to his presidency? And what about Jesse Jackson's kids? Was there ever a threat to kidnap State Rep. Obama's kids, or "Rev" Jackson's kids?

I believe that Jimmy Carter sent Amy to public school in DC. If that's correct, at least he has the courage of his convictions, however misguided.

 
At 2/26/2009 3:35 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Anonymous said:

If you're not getting mad, you're not paying attention.


I'm already mad, what can I do? Can ACORN be reformed from within? If not, can poor people create their own competing organizations?

 
At 2/26/2009 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm already mad, what can I do?

You can start by moving to Texas, Utah, Idaho or Arizona. These states have taken concrete steps to improve the business climate and it's paying dividends. Read this. The problem for everyone is that the Northeastern liberals are now in charge of the country, and their policies may bankrupt us all.

 
At 2/26/2009 5:51 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

So where do many public school teachers send their children:

From the article:

"The data again show that urban public school teachers are more likely than either urban households or the general public to send their children to private schools. Across the states, 12.2 percent of all families (urban, rural, and suburban) send their children to private schools — a figure that roughly corresponds to perennial and well-known data on the proportion of U.S. children enrolled in private schools. But urban public school teachers send their children to private schools at a rate of 21.5 percent, nearly double the national rate of private-school attendance. Urban public school teachers are also more likely to send their children to private school than are urban families in general (21.5 vs. 17.5 percent)."

When the teachers don't send their kids to public schools, why do Washington Democrats expect the rest of us to?

This kind of double talk makes me think of Tonto: "White man speak with forked tongue."

 
At 2/26/2009 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys need to relax about the school thing. The Obama girls are primarily attending that school because it has handled the security of the first family in the past ...

That argument would sound a lot more credible if he had sent his kids to public schools in Chicago. Instead, he appointed a Secretary of Education who was apparently incapable of running a public school he was willing to send his daughters to.

When you consider the performance of inner city public schools, and the complete indifference to the future potential of the children that attend them, you see just how hollow the Democrats claim of concern for our children's education is. They would rather condemn millions of kids to substandard schools and teachers, undermining their futures, than break with the teachers unions. And they do this with an air of moral superiority. Claiming that their only concern is for the kids. When in reality, it's all about political power. Pathetic.

 
At 2/26/2009 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The People running our inner city schools make the execs at GM, Chrysler and Ford look like absolute geniuses.

Imagine if 50 percent of the cars coming off the line didn't start. The big 3 would have reached the crisis point long ago. Yet, when 50 percent of inner city kids do not graduate, no big deal.

Funny how the Democrats never manage to drag the heads of the teachers unions in front of a congressional committee for questioning. I guess Stalinesque show trials are just for CEO's.

 
At 2/26/2009 6:55 PM, Blogger OA said...

Why do liberals oppose money for alternative primary/secondary schools then expect taxpayers to pony up financial aid for students to attend private colleges?

Why not the similar restriction that public money only go to public universities? Or why not the same opportunity when it matters most to a child?

Liberals can explain one or the other, but when trying to justify both their heads explode.

 
At 2/26/2009 7:34 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Anonymous said:

V
Imagine if 50 percent of the cars coming off the line didn't start.



Schools can't fix the culture of poverty which produces misperforming and underperforming kids.

 
At 2/26/2009 8:12 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

Very revealing that US govt universities are world-class, and US govt support includes "vouchers" in the form of Pell Grants, GSLs, etc., that recipients are free to spend where they choose, including Notre Dame. But where US govt schools fail, K-12, its support is confined to the schools that it runs.

The last year I let my kids attend public school is when I learned that my eldest daughter's councilor sent *her* kids to private school. After switching to a catholic school (I'm basically an athiest), the behavior problems that sent her to the councilor disappeared.

I pay about $7k annually for catholic high school. It's clean, organized, and the children are respectful and on-task. The Detroit public school system gets $13k annually per student in tax funding. It's budget grows annually by about 10%, as its student body drops 10%. Last year's budget was $1.2 Billion (that the rest of us pay for), for fewer than 100k students... and it ran a massive DEFICIT.

But of course Obama thinks it just needs MORE money. I would welcome some of those Detroit kids bringing vouchers to our catholic school. If they misbehaved, they'd get kicked out; if they behaved, they'd graduate with a meaningful degree and productive habits.

 
At 2/26/2009 9:29 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

And the drop out rate is in the neighborhood of 75% in Detorit - according to outside experts.

$1.2B and only 25% of 9th graders stay all four years. Of course, the DPS found $1M to buy art work several years ago.

This borders on criminal neglegence.

I can't wait until we get the same kind of managerial excellence in our health care system.

 
At 2/26/2009 9:44 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

Some friends of mine and I got sick of this, and started a Saturday morning program for Detroit school kids (bencarsonscholars.com). These same kids, in our program they excelled. They excelled because we gave them no choice. If they misbehaved, we kicked them out. No rah-rah speeches, no self-esteem seminars, no preaching about how suburban white racists are to blame for their problems. Just batteries of tests and grueling, basic drills over core subjects. Their SAT scores jumped.

We called our teachers "coaches" because the same schools with horrible academics in Detroit field championship sports teams. So we just ran the classrooms like the coaches who get those kids to perform in the gym.

We violated all the official public school rules. We "tracked" students, testing them at the start of the semester and grouping them according to weaknesses identified on assessment tests. We not only posted all the grades, we read out test results in class... just like on a sports team! Students who failed to participate -- meaning, if they so much as refused to do math problems exactly as we instructed -- we kicked them out. The harder we were on them, the harder they worked, the higher the attendance and punctuality, and the greater pride they took in our program and in themselves.

Nothing could be easier than getting "inner city" kids to excel in school.

 
At 2/26/2009 11:48 PM, Blogger randian said...

You can start by moving to Texas, Utah, Idaho or Arizona. These states have taken concrete steps to improve the business climate and it's paying dividends.

Texas has long been a business friendly state, though its recent implementation of a gross receipts tax on business constitutes a significant regression.

As for school funding, when I recently made the argument to a liberal friend of mine that spending more money on schools is pointless because education providers will capture every dollar education consumers can send their way, he denied the existence of the entire phenomenon. I despair of our future.

 
At 2/27/2009 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schools can't fix the culture of poverty which produces misperforming and underperforming kids.

Then let's shut them down!!! The purpose of the whole excercise is to prepare these kids for productive lives. Education is supposed to lift them out of poverty.

This is typical liberal gibberish. There is nothing wrong with these kids. Like Bush said, it's the "soft bigotry of low expectations".

 
At 2/27/2009 8:50 AM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Anonymous said:

Then let's shut them down!!! The purpose of the whole excercise is to prepare these kids for productive lives. Education is supposed to lift them out of poverty.


Private schools can kick out the bad apples. In public schools, it takes extremely egregious (not redundant, just an emphatic reduplication) behavior to get kicked out.

I would kick out a lot more but that's not my call.

 
At 2/27/2009 9:37 AM, Blogger QT said...

Paul,

Kudos for you & your friends for such an innovative approach. Kids need to be challenged and learn how to excel. What is often assumed is that these kids lack ability or intelligence when it is lack of life skills...like learning how to apply yourself, setting realistic goals and developing a plan to attain each goal, and learning how to bounce back from setbacks.

A lot can be learned from the Sullivan sisters.

Poorboomer,

If poverty is an endemic problem that cannot be changed, why has poverty in the U.S. gone from 50% in 1900 to about 10% today? I suspect that it wasn't welfare payments that created this change but education and economic growth.

The past 200 years have witnessed the steady improvement in quality of life for the vast majority of Americans and the average educational attainment has increased dramatically.

Lincoln grew up in a home with only 1 book, the bible. How many books does even a poor person own today?

Opportunity is what you make of it.

 
At 2/27/2009 11:16 AM, Anonymous Cromagnum said...

Competition is what the Govt controlled cartel of eduction needs.

By Design, Competition reduces costs and improves quality. Cartels and Beauracracies do not.

Charter schools are only a meager first step, but are still handicapped by not being free market.

If we have to pay taxes for education, then it is the duty of our elected officials to get the best value for our money.

The current system has too much waste and needs real reform, not spending mandates.

 

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