DC Voucher Destruction A Stain On Obama’s Honor, Credibility; Republicans Should Fix It

I haven’t posted about this until now because I’m still trying to get over the idea that the Obama administration would deliberately victimize minority school kids in Washington, DC over partisan politics.

Outrage is simply to mild a term for what was done here.

In case our readers have missed this, during the previous administration a pilot voucher program was set up in DC to offer “scholarships” (vouchers) to some 1,700 public-school students in the District of Columbia so they could attend the private schools of their schoice. The program cost just $15 million, which came out to $7,500 per student.

Washington, DC spends about $15,000 per student on public schools.

There were four applicants for every one scholarship given.

By all measures the program was a success. It might have been the only thing the Bush administration did with education that actually succeeded.

Of course, the teachers’ unions hate vouchers. They consider them to be the death of public education, and say so all the time. In another post on this page I’ll analyze those arguments in full, but suffice it to say for our purposes here they’re not interested in competition in the least because they know what would happen if public schools dominated by the teachers’ unions were ever subjected to the judgement of the marketplace.

The teachers’ unions gave $56 million to political candidates in the last election cycle. Ninety-six percent of that cash went to Democrat candidates. I haven’t found any information on what the breakdown of donations by individual teachers was; perhaps that’s not available. My guess is while most teachers probably donate to Democrats it’s not at a 96 percent rate.

Payment was made for those contributions last week when Obama killed the DC voucher program, attempting to murder school choice in its crib. An old Obama campaign quote on the issue is haunting: “Let’s see if it [the voucher program] works,” he said. “And if it does, whatever my preconceptions, you do what’s best for the kids.”

Well, that was a lie.

Last Friday, after the DC voucher program was spiked by the Obama administration – not only did the funding for the program get pulled amid a $3.6 trillion federal budget, but Obama education secretary Arne Duncan, who used to run the school system in Chicago Obama wouldn’t send his own daughters to attend classes in, did away with the program a year early – a Department of Education report on the performance of the voucher program showed that it has resulted in significant improvement in the academic performance of the children participating in it.

This fiasco is a direct reflection of the lack of honor on the part of this president. Obama had said he was willing to keep an open mind and stick to what works on education – and presented with something which did but didn’t conform to his ideology and political alliances, he killed it. In the process he did damage to 1,700 families – 90 percent black, 9 percent Hispanic – in the nation’s capital.

This story has certainly been given coverage this week in the conservative media, but not as the true scandal it is. It’s a perfect window into Obama’s soul – he’s a heartless ideologue who couldn’t care less about individual freedom and opportunity, and he will reward political cronies and contributors even at the expense of the weak and defenseless.

Obviously this doesn’t mesh well with the propaganda put out by the left-wing media in this country. But this disaster is hardly the first bit of evidence as to what we have in the White House, and it won’t be the last. At some point people will begin to realize what some of us have been saying for a long time; we have a socialist Chicago political hack in charge of the country.

In the meantime, if the Republican Party is serious about doing something to reach out to the black community by making a gesture on behalf of the 1,700 minority kids Obama has consigned to the worst public schools in America, they’d spearhead an effort to revive the DC voucher program using private funds. $15 million is not a tremendous amount of money to raise if RNC chair Michael Steele would throw his weight behind an effort to get it done, and I would suggest every GOP Senator and Congressman could use their fundraising prowess to fill the coffers of a private program replacing the one Obama killed to great effect.

There are 219 Republican members of Congress (House and Senate); raising $15 million if all of them were to get behind the program would require $68,000 or so from each. These guys do that in one dinner on a good night; and raising money for a private charity to fund a DC voucher program wouldn’t be restricted by campaign fundraising limits. Seems to me this would be a very easy thing to fix, and it would be a very media-friendly project. It would also be a good opportunity to cross party lines as well; I have a hard time thinking that all these well-heeled, kindhearted leftists I hear so much about wouldn’t be willing to kick in a few thousand bucks to help out poor minority school kids in Washington. An easy sell, no?



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