That capitalist paradigm of competition struck at the heart of socialized education when the federal government implemented the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Before Democrats killed the program, 1,700 disadvantaged children received vouchers of up to $7,500 a year to attend a private school of their parents’ choice. The results included statistically significant increases in student reading scores and in parent satisfaction.
Apparently worried that this competition could spread and eventually detach poor, mostly minority program participants from dependence upon the state, many Senate Democrats voted last Sunday, December 13th, to defeat an attempt to re-authorize the program’s meager $13 million/year funding.
Groups like the National Education Association, which lobbies Congress to funnel money to schools where its union members work, are apparently so influential on Capitol Hill that Congress won’t take even a small stand in favor of competition in education. This is disgusting.
I’ve written on this particular program several times, and I’ve always been astonished to see Democrats opposing a federal spending program. Their reluctance to fund innovation in education seems strange in light of their willingness to throw billions at random, unnecessary spending projects in order to push out the JPEG image of the aggregate demand curve on Paul Krugman’s blog.
I conclude that nothing is wrong with the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, but that the Left merely despises solutions that employ competition. I note that the Democrats’ attempt to style their party as a caring, education-focused political force seems feigning in view of their giving in to teachers unions’ political prowess, and in view of the party’s love for state control of education no matter the effects upon children. I must excuse Senator Byrd (who is among my least favorite Senators) and Senator Feinstein from these accusations, because they co-sponsored the re-authorization bill.
More on the issue of vouchers later.