Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Please Give Them A Chance

In a recent speech, President Obama explained how his Administration would prioritize federal funding for education programs: "[Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It's not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works."

Slip kid, slip kid, second generation Only half way up the tree- Pete Townsend

Public education in urban America is without question one of the great moral issues of our time. Simply put, it is immoral to mandate that a child must go to a government chosen school when that school has for generations produced high dropout rates and low reading and math scores.

Can someone please explain to me that at age 18 you have private student loans, federal grants, state grants, federal loans, in-state tuition reduction work-study programs and you can apply to any school in the nation without any government interference but at age 17 you have to attend Thomas Jefferson High School, just because the government says so?

Why at 18 is education portable, you take your aid wherever you go, but at 17, you are stuck with no choices?

Well there is a reason why,but there is no valid reason why. The Teachers Union has a monopoly on education that would make John D.Rockefeller tip his cap in awe and admiration.

Did you see two weeks ago, at the City Hall Hearings on Charter Schools, City Council members were questioning Charter School advocates with materials provided to them by the United Federation of Teachers? You talk about a rigged game.

Please do not interpret this as a anti-teacher rant. It's not. I believe that teaching is a noble profession, (more noble than my profession,by far) and my respect for teachers is immense.

It's the power that UFT has over education and how it uses that power that I have issues with.

The blockade against all charter schools. The jihad against vouchers. Getting rid of tenure for all. Granting merit pay. The UFT spends millions each year to ensure that such measures are killed in the womb.

If they are not killed in the womb, the UFT kills it in afterbirth.

Look at the DC school system.

It's a school system that no parent would want their children trapped in.

But four years ago, the U.S. Congress provided some of these families a life preserver.

Four years ago, it started a voucher program for 1,715 kids stuck in DC's hell hole's of learning. The program was funded for five years, with approval from Congress needed to extend it beyond June 2010.

The DC voucher program was the most generous voucher program in the nation; it gave each child $7,500 towards private eduction. The program was also unique because it did not remove a red cent from the DC public school system; the voucher were funded separately by the U.S. Congress. Thus the argument that vouchers take money aware from the public school system did not apply in this case. (Although, I must admit, I have always found that argument deeply flawed. Public education dollars should be used to educate the public, wherever that education takes place: public, private, home schooling, etc. Those dollars should not be earmarked only for a system that has failed many so many for so long.)

The recipients of the program were poor under-educationally served minorities: 90% black and 9% Hispanic, so there was no chance of any of Ted Kennedy's "love children" from jumping the line.

The parents & kids love the program. So does the black mayor & black superintendent of DC schools.

Not only that, the evidence shows that the program is working. According to a Department of Education study, 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 you know who doesn't love the DC voucher program? The UFT.

So guess what? The Democratic Senate voted to end the program.

So these poor kids, given a glimmer of hope, will now be sent back into an educational wasteland when the program ends in June 2010.

Not only that, the 200 kids who were supposed to start the voucher program in September have had their voucher revoked by Education Secretary Duncan. Duncan's rationale: he wants the kids to avoid the "trauma" of being sent back to the DC public schools. (Never mind the trauma of being in the DC school system in the first place.)

Where is Obama on this? He refuses to lift a finger to help these kids. He throws around trillions for banks and cars, but can't find 15 million to keep this effective program?

Of course Obama can find the money. And of course he can use his tremendous rhetorical gifts to persuade the Senate to continue the DC program.

But Obama is a wholly -owned subsidiary of the UFT. You can almost see the puppet strings from the UFT headquarters that lead to the White House.

What a shame. You know, when you look at the life of Lyndon Johnson, for the most part it runs along two separate tracks: (1) ambition & (2) doing the right thing.

From the time Johnson was a young man he was extremely driven and he wanted to help people.

But for most of his life if doing the right thing got in the way of his ambition, Johnson always choose ambition. He was ruthless in that way.

But when he got to the White House, he flipped. He had reached as high as he could go, and he was freed up to do the right thing. A Johnson freed-up from the shackles of ambition brought the greatest social legislation in 100 years.

It's a shame that Obama has not learned what LBJ learned.

But seriously, I know that Democrats like to think of themselves as the party of the people. But don't the people deserve more educational options? Why does everything have to be UFT sanctioned?

Isn't it morally wrong to keep sending our young American children to schools that you would never send your own kid to?

Be honest.

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