Juan Williams has a new piece on D.C. vouchers and it is clear that he isn’t holding anything back:
“As I watch Washington politics I am not easily given to rage. Washington politics is a game and selfishness, out-sized egos and corruption are predictable. But over the last week I find myself 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…”
Williams notes that Obama and Duncan pledged themselves to following the evidence on vouchers:
“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.”
And the evidence has come in, he notes:
“What happened, according to a Department of Education study, is that after three years the voucher students scored 3.7 months higher on reading than students who remained in the D.C. schools. In addition, students who came into the D.C. voucher program when it first started had a 19 month advantage in reading after three years in private schools.”
But Williams accuses Obama and Duncan of violating their earlier pledge and disregarding the evidence. Instead, in a “politically calculated dance step” and implementing “a sly, political check-mate” Obama and Duncan have taken steps to kill the D.C. program.
Juan Williams then identifies the culprit in this story:
“The political pressure will be coming exclusively from the teacher’s unions who oppose the vouchers, just as they oppose No Child Left Behind and charter schools and every other effort at reforming public schools that continue to fail the nation’s most vulnerable young people, low income blacks and Hispanics. The National Education Association and other teachers’ unions have put millions into Democrats’ congressional campaigns because they oppose Republican efforts to challenge unions on their resistance to school reform and specifically their refusal to support ideas such as performance-based pay for teachers who raise students’ test scores. By going along with Secretary Duncan’s plan to hollow out the D.C. voucher program this president, who has spoken so passionately about the importance of education, is playing rank politics with the education of poor children. It is an outrage.”
What do you really think, Juan?
“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.”