Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Their reasoning escapes me

In recent debate over the New Hope Scholarship Act, state Sen. Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) acknowledged that the bill would "allow some children to escape the problems of a failed school, if that is in fact what we want to call it." (Oh, let's go out on a limb and call it that. When only 11 percent of your black fourth-graders are proficient in reading, I think it's safe to say that constitutes failure.)

But if you'll look closely, you'll notice that the most telling word in Sen. Corn's sentence is the word "escape." And it's not the first time a union official or one of the union's captive politicians has used that particular word.

Keith Geiger, former president of the National Education Association, once admonished a school-choice proponent on Larry King’s radio show: "Quit talking about letting kids escape." Sandra Feldman, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, once said the same thing: "The objective is to make the schools good –- not to escape them."

But of course the question is, "Whose objective?" We know the unions’ objective: Preserve jobs for the grown-ups. As longtime AFT boss Albert Shanker famously remarked, "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

But what if parents have a different objective? If you have a third-grader who still hasn't been taught to read, you're probably looking for an escape hatch. If your eighth-grader is afraid to darken the door of her local school-free drug zone, the objective most assuredly is to escape.

For the unions and their politicians, the children are mere revenue units. And you better believe they can't allow any of them to escape.

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