Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Where will he go from here?

Here's an excellent article from cnn.com that explores Bush's education options in the coming term. It seems to me that the defining debate will center around vouchers. We'll soon know if the conspiracy theorists are onto something or if they're overreacting

[W]ith an expanded majority in Congress, some Republicans want Bush to put his power behind a more conservative school-choice agenda. That would mean a bigger push for private-school vouchers and charter schools, which are public but largely independent.

"We're going to find out a lot about what George Bush is really all about," said Andrew Rotherham, who directs education policy for the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank aligned with centrist Democrats. "He would be better remembered as the president who put in place the framework for closing the achievement gap -- not the one who got a multicity voucher plan passed, which is the base-pleasing stuff."

(Rotherham blogs daily at www.eduwonk.com.) A multicity voucher program, of course, is exactly what conservatives want. And one wonders if the subtext here is really nothing more than a push towards "faith based" education. Federal and state dollars for church-run schools, anyone?

From the cnn.com article:

Some Republicans say Bush can't satisfy Democrats, particularly on funding, no matter what he recommends. They want the White House to be more proactive about No Child Left Behind and to keep shaking up what they deem to be a public education monopoly.

"My cardinal rule in Washington is you're on offense or you're on defense," said William Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. "They're on defense too much."

So will the Administration be on offense, or merely be offensive to anyone who believes in the separation of church and state? Time will tell.


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