Calling out the right wing
Brink... finds it inexplicable that a black leader might support vouchers on
That's true. Because there is no substance. The arguments in favor of vouchers are so weak that I find it absolutely unbelievable that anybody -- black, white, Hispanic, whatever -- really believes they are a legitimate answer to the very real problems facing many of our public schools.
But Eduwonk does hit a very important point (hey, I'm extending an olive branch here, Wonk):
In the long run what those 14,000 parents [in the Milwaukee voucher program] want may not be great public policy (for instance, concerns about accountability notwithstanding, we can't afford two public school systems), but their desire is hardly irrational or illegitimate and Democratic elites better start paying attention and putting forward serious solutions to the educational problems they're facing.
The desire to seek opportunities for your children is most definitely rational and legitimate. Democrats who reflexively support public schools without addressing the underlying systemic problems with them are doing a grave disservice. So, Mr. Wonk, there I agree with you.
The problem is that groups like the Bradley Foundation aren't telling the whole story. Many of them aim to destroy public education and publicly say that's their goal. But they don't say that when marketing their voucher schemes. Instead they speak in lofty moral tones about "opportunity scholarships" and "parental choice" and the like.
It fits a pattern with the right wing. They purposefully try to confuse people to win them over to their side. Look at "personal accounts" instead of privatization in Social Security. Look at using 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq. Look at the repeal of the "death tax" which is really a tax cut for the ultra-rich. There's a pattern here and they've extended it to education and they're recruiting local leaders to sell a message in communities that -- if they knew what the right wingers were really up to -- would kick 'em out the moment they set foot there.
Public schools have some problems and those problems need to be addressed. But they need to be addressed in a climate of honest debate. That is not happening. And that is what I'm criticizing. If you have a policy position, lay it on the table and defend it. Don't try to rename it, call it something it isn't, and foist it on an unsuspecting public.
That's what the right is doing; I'm just trying to call them on it. And I'm wondering why Eduwonk isn't doing the same...