(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
The Watchmen has a great scene where one of the heroes is unmasked and sent to prison. Needless to say, the place is swimming in criminal anxious to kill him. Our hero, a rather rough-edged sort of chap, is assaulted in line by a prisoner far larger than himself and using a makeshift knife to boot.
Not only does our hero quickly disable his attacker, for good measure, he smashes a plate of glass, grabs a container of hot cooking grease, and douses the bloke who dared to assault him. As the prison guards dragged him away, he growled out “You don’t seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you…YOU’RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME!!!!!”
You can watch this, grisly violence and all, here:
Now much gloom surrounds the fight over DC vouchers. Jay even seems to refer to them in the past tense in the Wall Street Journal. Could it be, however, that we’ve misread things? Perhaps we’re not locked in the prison with Dick Durbin. Perhaps he is locked in the prison with us.
Now Messrs. Obama and Duncan find themselves in a Vietnam-style quagmire. They’ve crushed the hopes and dreams of 200 low-income D.C. families while staking out the otherwise-reasonably-decent position that 1,700 youngsters already in the program should be protected until they graduate. Yet even that outcome is in doubt, as the program’s enemies strive to kill it outright. Meanwhile, both are vulnerable to personal attacks, with the President’s children in an elite private school and the Secretary admitting that he chose a (public) school outside the District for his daughter because he didn’t want to “jeopardize my own children’s education.”
The time has come for both to learn some key lessons. First: though it might look like a teapot, the D.C. voucher program is capable of causing a major tempest that isn’t going to end anytime soon. Second: if you want Congress to cough up funds to keep the program’s current students in their schools, it’s going to take a fight–an affirmative fight by you in defense of vouchers that work for poor kids! And third: don’t fear such a fight, because the facts–not to mention a compelling human narrative–are on your side.
This fight rids us of all illusions- you are either with the kids, or with the unions. Period. You either believe in evidence based education reform, or you do not. No middle ground. If you are a Democrat, you must choose whether you are a hero or a zero. If you want to be a zero, are you willing to throw 1,700 kids under the bus in order to do it?
No amount of complaining by policy wonks, of course, is going to change the political realities on this. It’s not hard to imagine, however, the DC Parents drenching the zeros in the political equivalent of hot grease.
In today’s Wall Street Journal Jay makes a lot of good points about the teacher unions and their true feelings about charter schools. Along the way, however, he says Obama has “done union bidding by killing the D.C. voucher program.” This is likely true, but readers should not think that all attempts to save the program have run their course. Senator Lieberman has stated that he plans to hold hearings about the program in May. Senator Feinstein said in March that if the official evaluation by the Department of Ed found positive results (which it did) then she too would support extending the program. Negative press and public pressure calling on Obama to support reauthorizing the program has been increasing daily.
Congress and, most importantly, President Obama, still have an opportunity to do the right thing, stand by their stated principles, and reauthorize a program that has been scientifically proven to help disadvantaged D.C. schoolchildren improve their lives.
DC kids would tell Jay (although certainly with less cheese):
Matt is right. As I’ve said before, the program is not dead yet. I was only describing their intent to kill. Besides, how could I refuse David Soul?
just about the only good scene in that absolutely miserable movie — I had almost managed to totally forget my experience watching that thing — thanks for bringing it back to my mind, Matt!
I’m always here to help!