(AP Photo/ Jose F. Moreno)
The great Jack Kemp used to say about politicians that “voters don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Congressional conservatives say they care about the poor and minorities, but do they really?
We have a test case in front of us right now over whether congressional leadership will reauthorize and then hopefully expand the Washington, D.C., school voucher program. Obama is against the program, though its $25 million budget is less than 0.1 percent of federal education spending.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program was created in 2004 and was the handiwork of John Boehner and President George W. Bush. The results have been uniformly positive for these families.
But something unforgivable happened at the end of last year. House leadership admits it “inadvertently” left out the program of the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed late last year. Leadership forgot to fund the voucher program for poor black and Hispanic parents because apparently it was too busy funding the Export-Import Bank to help Boeing.
So, amazingly, about the only domestic program that got eliminated was the one that matters the most. Message: Congressional conservatives don’t care about these families any more than the liberals do—which is very little.
The very first order of business for this Congress should be to immediately reauthorize the D.C. school voucher program. Do it now. Hold a rally in front of the Capitol with the thousands of minority parents and kids who depend on these vouchers. Stand with them. Fight with them loudly and proudly.
A first-rate education for the nation’s poor children is a righteous fight and, as Jeanne Allen, the president of the Center for Education Reform, puts it, “the civil liberties issue of our time.”
What is for sure is that liberals will never stand with these parents. They can’t, because the teachers unions won’t let them, and the political contributions would dry up. So union brass and liberal leaders oppose programs that take control from Big Labor and instead empower parents.
It’s all about power and money for the education blob. The opposition has nothing to do with what’s right for the kids. Nothing exposes the spectacular hypocrisy of liberals more than their brick-wall opposition to education voucher programs.
Meanwhile, their opposition in Congress refuse to call them out on this. Why?
The D.C. voucher program has helped thousands of very low-income and mostly black kids opt out of the often dismal public D.C. schools and opt into high-performing private and Catholic schools.
A major assessment study funded by the Department of Education found that graduation rates for the students with vouchers are an estimated 12 percentage points higher than for those who didn’t get the vouchers. More of the kids go on to college—some to Harvard and Yale.
The odds are high that a large percentage of these kids from good schools but poor neighborhoods will be financially successful and rise into the middle class or higher. Is there a better way to reduce income inequality?
The most powerful evidence is to meet these kids, because the…