Thursday, December 30, 2004

READER RESPONSE -- President authorizes school voucher program

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:46 AM |  

No, not George W. Bush, but President Jed Bartlet of the NBC series The West Wing. Reader Dave Vogel provides a summary followed by some good insight.

While watching the West Wing last night, I could hardly believe that they actually took up the issue of vouchers in schools. The Mayor of D.C. comes in to talk to the President on getting his support for vouchers in schools. The usual objections are made (political support from traditional Democratic sources like teachers' unions and how it is unfair for children). The Mayor relates his personal experiences with what he has seen firsthand, and how there is lots of support for it not from the rich and powerful but the poor kids who want a chance at a decent education.

The President calls in one of staff members who is a young black man. He asks him where he went to school, and he replies one of the public schools. Thinking he proved a point that you can succeed at a public school, he then asks him where he would have preferred to go. The response is a private school he names, and that the education was much better, hardly any violence and the kids that went there all were focusing on getting into college. When he asks why he wasn't able to go, he said he couldn't afford it. The President weighs the testimony, and actually goes ahead for financing a pilot program.

It was pretty impressive, and hopefully something like that will help those who automatically oppose an idea simply because it comes from a Republican look at the issue in a different light. I imagine a large chunk of the audience is center to center/left in nature, so the people exposed to this idea might not have ever heard the debate framed in these terms. The case is argued from a Democratic black Mayor, supported by a Democratic black staffer, and is given a thoughtful response from a Democratic President. I can only hope that stuff like this can move the debate forward.
And sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction --

Let D.C. Try Vouchers -- By Dianne Feinstein