Educattion reformer Michelle Rhee on why she broke with fellow Democrats to beicome a strong advocate for vouchers:
I just couldn’t look mother after mother in the eye and deny their children the opportunity I wanted for my own children. It would have required me to say, “Gee, I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to suck it up. I know your elementary school is a failing school, and your child will probably not learn how to read, but I really need five more years to fix the system. And while I’m fixing the system, I need you and your neighbors to be really patient. Hang in there with me. Things will get better. I promise.”
If someone said that to me, I’d have said, “You may need more time to fix the system but my kid doesn’t have time. She has only one chance to attend first grade, and if she can’t learn to read by the end of first grade, her chances for success in life will be compromised. So with all due respect—heck no!”
[. . .]
Here’s the question we Democrats need to ask ourselves: Are we beholden to the public school system at any cost, or are we beholden to the public school child at any cost? My loyalty and my duty will always be to the children.
The most interesting news coming out of Indianapolis this week is that Gov. Pence is throwing his support behind a major expansion of the state's voucher system, already the most extensive in the nation. It's an expansion beyond even what he called for in the gubernatorial campaign, which, among other things, would end the one-year waiting period to obtatin a voucher. If the current program indeed hurts public schools, the expansion will hurt them more. But Rhee's question is the critical one: Are we beholden to the public school system at any cost, or are we beholden to the public school child at any cost? Reform of the public school system (anybody out there who thinks it doesn't need reform?) will be long-term. But the kids most in need are losing their chance at a good education now.