To understand the failure of public education in this country, one must first understand that the entire system is designed for the benefit of the adults who work in it. Union dues from people working in the system are funneled into lobbying and campaign contributions to the very legislators setting the rules of the system. As a result, the entire political system is biased against reform of public education.
Sometimes, however, the need for reform is so manifest that even these local obstacles can be overcome. Under the Obama Administration, however, opponents of reform have the ultimate “trump card.” The Feds. Late this week, the Department of Justice filed a federal suit against Louisiana’s school choice law. Eric Holder’s office argues that allowing kids in failing public schools to attend better-performing private schools would work against its “goal” of achieving the proper racial balance in schools.
Your education may suck, in other words, but at least you are in a school with the “right” racial balance.
Louisiana passed a modest school choice, or voucher, law, a couple years ago. If a child was low-income and attended a school that graded a C or less, the student could attend a private school, with a portion of the tuition covered by the taxpayer-funded education subsidy. The state’s program isn’t as expansive as those in place in Holland and Sweden, but it begins to establish that the public’s commitment was to educating a child, not to a particular system.
Last year, around 600 kids benefited from this program, although that number was likely to increase dramatically this year.
Unions, of course, hate the idea of giving parents a choice in how they educate their children. While education is largely still a function of state and local government, Eric Holder managed to look into his bag of legal tricks and find a way to block Louisiana’s reforms.
A number of parishes (read counties) in Louisiana are under federal directive to make their public school systems more racially balanced. DOJ is concerned that giving low-income parents an opportunity to escape failing schools might alter the racial balance of the schools negatively.
Maybe it will. But, the reform the DOJ is trying to block would also give some number of kids a better chance at opportunity. The left often argues for silly laws with the rhetorical trick that if we can save “one life” shouldn’t we endorse it. Fine. Why not, however, save some few hundreds of kids from a failing education system?
To fully appreciate the challenges we face, you must understand one thing. The left is only about power. Everything else they say is just rhetoric.