The Washington Post today calls on D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty to take a stand on the embattled D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
PARENTS LOVE IT. Students benefit from it. But neither the White House nor most Democrats in Congress had the backbone to support a unique program that provides vouchers to low-income D.C. families in search of better educational opportunities. Now the question is whether D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) — who has made education his priority — has the guts his party leaders lack and will seek to save this worthy program…
The animus toward this tiny, clearly successful program is not grounded in logic. ‘The real goal of education,’ Ms. [Dianne] Feinstein said, sensibly enough, ‘ought to be to provide a number of different choices for youngsters so you can see where they learn best and then enable them to be in that situation.’ That’s supposed to be the philosophy of Mr. Obama’s Education Department, too, which purports to want to reward programs that work…‘What is everybody scared of?’ Ms. Feinstein asked. Sadly, the answer is no secret: Teachers unions have an outsized influence on the Democratic Party. The unions fear that if objective analysis rather than political muscle is allowed to shape education policy, traditional public schools that are more frequently union shops would lose out. Only the children would be better off…
No doubt Mr. Fenty is being counseled on the political dangers of going where President Obama and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), among others, fear to tread. Such arguments have never stood in his way when it comes to promoting school change. We hope he gives serious thought to stepping up one more time.
The Post editorial builds on a piece by George Will on Sunday, also in support of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Will writes:
Duncan seems to fancy himself an Earl Warren, expanding civil rights. Actually, he resembles Mrs. Jellyby.
While his lawyers seek evidence of displeasing enrollments in AP courses, he is complicit in strangling the scholarship program that enables 1,300 District of Columbia low-income minority students to escape from the District’s execrable schools. Like Mrs. Jellyby in Dickens’ “Bleak House,” who was indifferent to her chaotic family while fretting about conditions in distant Borrioboola-Gha, Duncan practices what Dickens called “telescopic philanthropy.” Sensitive about supposed injustices in distant AP classes, Duncan is worse than merely indifferent to children within sight of his office at the foot of Capitol Hill.