Lifelong Democrat Changes Mind On Education Reform

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.

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9 Responses to Lifelong Democrat Changes Mind On Education Reform

  1. cptnemo7029 says:

    Reblogged this on End Times.

  2. I’ve always liked her. She has a new book out as well.

  3. Alastor says:

    I’m not sold on her analogy.

    Yes, you can get a pell grant to cover your education at Notre Dame. But Notre Dame is an accredited university. It adheres to national standards, if not striving to be above them. Enroll in a biology class at Notre Dame, and you will be taught evolution. Enroll in a cosmology course, and you will learn the Big Bang. The school’s association with the Catholic Church does not substantially affect its course material.

    Parents aren’t using the school voucher system to sent their kids to Choate or Andover Academy. They are using the voucher system to send their kids to the high school equivalent of Liberty University.

    I’d be willing to make a concession, though. I’d be fine with vouchers provided they were used to send kids to schools demonstrably and objectively better than their local public schools. I’d be fine with them if the students and parents were genuinely interested in bettering their child’s education, not to preclude them from exposure to information out of touch with their anachronistic religious beliefs.

  4. Although I’m skeptical of diverting public education funds to private schools (the blurring of Separation of Church and State worries me most), I am open to the idea of vouchers. The issue of commercial profit in education is more troublesome for me. I prefer non-profit institutions. Regarding Michelle Rhee, her tenure as D.C. chancellor was not exactly the “success” many have claimed it to be (see: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/education-of-michelle-rhee/).

  5. Barneysday says:

    Still want to improve your writing skills? Re-read this post, just your words, and count how many errors you come up with. It might be fun.

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