If there is one thing I enjoy reading about, it’s when people change their minds because of new evidence, particularly when their social group or economic situation could keep them from doing so. Christopher Hitchens famously gave up Marxism, and eventually supported the invasion of Iraq, aliening some close personal friends. David Frum was fired from his job at the conservative think tank AEI for his views on health care reform, and has changed his mind on gay rights. I recently changed my views on gun control in the light of our recent mass shootings.
The Daily Beast has featured a long form essay from lifelong liberal Democrat, Michelle Rhee. Rhee served as Chancellor Of Public Schools in Washington DC from 2007 to 2010 and runs the non-profit, Students First, that advocates for education reform. She has also appeared on The Daily Show recently. Her essay focuses on her change of mind concerning school vouchers, a highly partisan issue that Democrats loathe and Republicans generally advocate. She summarizes:
Most people in this country do not favor vouchers in education, because they don’t want public dollars going to private institutions or businesses. But the logic holds absolutely no water.
We have federal Pell grants that low-income students use all the time to attend private colleges. Pell grants aren’t limited to use at public universities. We have food stamps that low-income families redeem at non government grocery stores. And let’s not forget about Medicare and Medicaid.
Think about it this way. Say your elderly mother had to be hospitalized for life-threatening cancer. The best doctor in the region is at Sacred Heart, a Catholic, private hospital. Could you ever imagine saying this? “Well, I don’t think our taxpayer dollars should subsidize this private institution that has religious roots, so we’re going to take her to County General, where she’ll get inferior care. ’Cause that’s just the right thing to do!”
No. You’d want to make sure that your tax dollars got your mom the best care. Period. Our approach should be no different for our children. Their lives are at stake when we’re talking about the quality of education they are receiving. The quality of care standard should certainly be no lower.