SADOW: Yvonne Dorsey’s A Bit Hypocritical, No?

The hypocrisy demonstrated in a statement made by a Louisiana legislator – likely shared by many of her partisan colleagues – illuminates the toxic mindset of the left’s impact on the lives of citizens, but especially on the black community, when it comes to the role that educational policy plays in keeping its members in power.

Last week, the Black Alliance for Educational Options staged a rally of parents, children, and supporters of the state’s scholarship voucher program that allows families whose children endure underperforming schools to be given the resources to choose an alternative provider that may not be a government school. Due to a recent judicial decision, the funding mechanism for the program now requires a separate appropriation, and these individuals wanted to remind legislators to ensure continued funding.

This apparently upset state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb:

“We made a big thing last year about teachers are here, not in school” when the teachers were in Baton Rouge lobbying against vouchers, Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, said.

She said the same people who were “screaming” last year brought “little children here” wearing “Legislators You Promised” T-shirts.

“They were not in school learning something. They were here as lobbyists,” Dorsey-Colomb said.

What she appeared to refer to happened last year when areas of the state where existed strong union presence were able to provide the infrastructure to have teachers from those places to get to the Capitol to rally and testify against reform legislation, enough that these had to curtail or even to shut down classes for that day. Then, reform supporters asked why these teachers had abandoned their classrooms to engage in protest.

Naturally, Dorsey-Colomb raised nary a peep about that then. Nor did she when months ago students, parents, and teachers protested in New Orleans about decommissioning schools that consistently performed miserably. Neither is this silence anything new for her: for example, in 2007 she made no public condemnation when unions encouraged so many teachers to leave their classes in the lurch to attend a rally to wrest more salary money out of taxpayers that classes for 120,000 students had to be cancelled. To say her outrage is selective is an understatement.

And there’s another hypocritical aspect to her faux concern. Legislators, she among them, all the time are receiving groups of schoolchildren to the Capitol; you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some legislator asking a body of committee to recognize the presence of such groups during a regular session. They are out of school presumably to learn about the political process. How is that any different than this rally, except that their presence signifies support for an agenda that Dorsey-Colomb abhors? (And it’s quite possible none of the children attending the latest rally were even required to attend classes that day; presuming they are already enrolled in private schools through vouchers, these schools already may have ended their school years.)

More interesting are the reasons for Dorsey-Colomb and her ilk’s (she and 14 others in the Senate voted against the bill last year that made the program statewide) abhorrence of providing choice in education to students who need it most. Certainly two of these jump out in analysis. First, it makes special interests and their ideological supporters less comfortable, for the program forces them to pay more attention to education and less to acquiring power to be used to transfer the maximum of the people’s resources to them and those they represent. In exchange, those interests keep this ilk in positions of power.

Second, better education threatens the liberal power base. The program improves education as a whole not only because it gets children into better schools, but it also encourages those poor schools to improve or to be replaced by other operators who do a better job. It seems like a win-win situation, except for liberals because better quality education better enables people to shed the direct income support and preferential treatment that mark their dependency on government, a condition that is the mother’s milk of liberalism’s power base. Liberalism exists on the fiction that American society and its economic system are so rigged in favor of certain presumed interests connected to wealth that only powerful, intrusive, redistributionist, and activist government can correct the nonexistent flaws.

Better education explodes this myth, through superior learning and the experience that extends as a result of it. For these elites that trade in this fantasy world, a low-performing educational system helps to ensure the existence of a sufficient pool of voters who don’t have the cognitive capacity to be taken in by its blandishments, and that they stay trapped in an environment of low information and low interest about the political world that makes them more easily mobilized by these elites for their cause.

But it’s not just, or even primarily, preservation of their political positions that drives sentiments of those like Dorsey-Colomb. There’s something more personal to it that causes such hyperbolic rhetoric: shame and anger. BAEO is comprised of black leaders and a large majority of children in the program presently come from black families. Yet Dorsey-Colomb, who is black and represents a heavily black-majority district, voted against the program and condemned the rally participants.

What events like this do is call out her and other black legislators who voted against the program and who may seek to defund it. The program is there to help their constituents and many children in vulnerable situations, yet they turn their backs on them and out special interests ahead of them. Compounding the sentiment is some black legislators did the right thing and have supported the program – with four of nine in the Senate and seven of 22 in the House voting for the enabling legislation – showing that they were willing to dispense with ideological imperatives on this matter. And when something like this rally reminds them of their shameful behavior while others had the guts they didn’t, responses based on anger at being called out result.

With a vote coming soon on funding the program for the next year, estimated at around $40 million, opponents see it as a continued threat to their power bases and explains why they will vent their spleens like this about it. That should not deter legislators from putting children before special interests and keeping the promise – and hope alive.

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