As I mentioned two weeks ago, one of my more vile Republican friends thought it would be funny to put my name on the mailing list of something called the Goldwater Institute. Taking its name from the patron saint of the true conservative movement--not that big gub'mint/huge deficit crapola practiced by Reagan and both Bushes--the institute is a think tank that, as best as I can figure, twists and subverts the sincerely held political stances of the late Arizona senator to match the whichever-way-the-wind-is-blowing sellout moves of those in power today.
And so it was a couple of weeks back when, for several days in a row, the online newsletter trumpeted the ultimate victory of hypocrisy over principle: After being turned away countless times in Arizona, the school voucher whores finally got their foot in the door.
It is a double victory for those on the wrong side of education, as it not only uses state funds to send students to private and/or religious schools; it also shouts out yet another "screw you" to the public schools and the teachers who are waging a valiant campaign in the face of student unpreparedness and widespread parental indifference.
And, in an era of shameless posturing and empty sloganeering, it trots out perhaps the most egregious example with its use of the phrase "school choice."
You'll pardon my going over this again, but apparently, it doesn't sink in right away for those who are worshipping at the altar of government giveaways. In the state of Arizona, all parents have the choice of where to send their kids to school. Unless you go back to the days of racial segregation, they pretty much always have. I'm not sure when or where the idea to have the government use taxpayer money to send little Jason to private school came about, but it's so anti-conservative, so offensive, so un-American, that it's almost inspired.
It is said that those who have a regard for the law or sausage should never watch either one being made. I can only imagine the behind-the-scenes machinations for this abomination. "The meeting of the Fake Conservatives Caucus will come to order. For years, we've been trying to feed at the public trough, because all the tax breaks we get just aren't enough. We've been unable to get anybody to buy into the crackpot notion that using taxpayer money to send kids to Christian academies is a good idea.
"We used to say that the plan was for poor kids, but everybody saw through that as a ruse just to get the pump primed so that the fat cats could dive in a couple of years down the road. But now, we've come up with a better idea; We're going to throw some cripples out front. Yeah, we'll say that the plan helps handicapped kids. If we could find some mud-colored handicapped kid who lives in a foster home and use him as our poster child, it might even be enough to make Gov. Janet Napolitano take her eye off the gate long enough for us to sneak past."
Sure enough, it did. And shame on the governor for allowing it to happen. I don't want to hear any nonsense about politics and compromise. Either you have principles and integrity, or you don't. Trading this entrée into the hellish and selfish world of vouchers for (wildly unnecessary) all-day kindergarten or (mostly acceptable) teacher raises is like saying that you'll accept a little bit of slavery so that the blacks who remain free get better health care. Nothing is worth selling your soul over.
What is perhaps most hypocritical of all is that for the past 20 years or so, people on the wrong side of things have been trying to sell this cockeyed idea of education as just another commodity, one that is subject to free-market forces. Well, here in Arizona, they found some legislative rubes willing to try anything to give the middle finger to teachers' unions, mainly because their members--who are on the front lines every day in what has become the battle to educate America's young people--tend to be more compassionate, more open-minded, more Democratic. They came up with charter schools, which, for those of you who aren't paying attention (and that, apparently, is most of you), have turned out to be mostly mediocre or worse.
So now that you've reduced the sacred trust of educating America's young to the equivalent of, say, ice cream, you now want the government to buy you that ice cream as well. You should be so proud.
Amazingly, both the governor's office and the Goldwater Institute betrayed their intellectual dishonesty and political cynicism when they used the same phrase in their respective press releases. Fooling absolutely no one, both replaced "voucher" with "scholarship" in the sentence: "Each program gives families scholarships they can use to pay tuition at public or private schools."
When exactly was the last time a public school charged tuition? This ridiculous statement is either an inadvertent indictment of the total vapidity of the "school choice" idea and its proponents, or a brazen cart-before-the-horse slip by those who now see a total voucher system as a fait accompli.
Hypocrites, gluttons, fools or whores. Or any combination thereof.