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April 21, 2009
Liberal commentator raps Obama over vouchers
Juan Williams, writing in the Fox News Forum, takes Obama to task for standing by while the Democrats dismantled the voucher program in Washington, D.C.:
This is critical to our nation's future in terms of workforce preparation to compete in a global economy but also to fulfill the idea of racial equality by providing a real equal opportunity for all young people who are willing to work hard to succeed.
In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. Secretary Duncan said in early March that it didn't make sense "to take kids out of a school where they're happy and safe and satisfied and learning...those kids need to stay in their school."
And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting "what works for kids." That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.
But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government's offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.
Williams, who is usually a reliable mouthpiece for the administration, calls what Obama and the Democrats did, a "sin:"
This reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not bode well for arguments to come about standards in the effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. It does not speak well of the promise of President Obama to be the "Education President,' who once seemed primed to stand up for all children who want to learn and especially minority children.
And its time for all of us to get outraged about this sin against our children.
Good to know that there are some honest liberals out there who can call Obama out when he panders to one of his special interest groups. The teachers don't want vouchers, seeing correctly the end of the public school system as we know it where no competition means they have a stranglehold on funds for education.
It looks like parents themselves are going to have to demand action from Congress if vouchers are to be considered in most other school systems. They won't be able to count on the Democrats or the president for help.