Monday, April 20, 2009

Juan Williams outraged over end of DC voucher program

National Public Radio Sr. Correspondent and Fox News Contributor Juan Williams is angry over the Obama Administration's decision to "hollow out" the generous District of Columbia school voucher program, which has enabled 1,714 children to escape DC's failed school system.

Williams, a liberal political commentator, writes that he finds himself "in a fury":

The cause of my upset is watching the key civil rights issue of this generation — improving big city public school education — get tossed overboard by political gamesmanship. If there is one goal that deserves to be held above day-to-day partisanship and pettiness of ordinary politics it is the effort to end the scandalous poor level of academic achievement and abysmally high drop-out rates for America’s black and Hispanic students.

Initial indications from President Obama and Arne Duncan, his Secretary of Education, were that the voucher program, which expires in 2010, had a chance to continue. Instead, Secretary Duncan withdrew awards for 200 students entering the program this fall.

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.

He does not want to give the students a chance for a year in a better school? That does not make sense if the students and their families want that life-line of hope. It does not make sense if there is a real chance that the program might win new funding as parents, educators and politicians rally to undo the “bigotry of low expectations” and open doors of opportunity — wherever they exist — for more low-income students.

The program made a difference: Students who were in the voucher program from the beginning had, after three years, a 19-month advantage in reading over their public-school counterparts.

Williams seems most appalled by the hypocrisy of the public officials who are killing this successful voucher program:

Of course, Secretary Duncan has said he decided not to live in Washington, D.C. because he did not want his children to go to public schools there. And President Obama, who has no choice but to live in the White House, does not send his two daughters to D.C. public schools, either. They attend a private school, Sidwell Friends, along with two students who got there because of the voucher program.

This reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program... 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.

No comments: