USA Today recently ran a front-page article on how welfare reform (that was the Republican mantra a decade ago) is working. The number of people on welfare is down by more than 50 percent, but there are still some entrenched welfare recipients who aren't looking for work, and some other people who should be getting assistance, but can't. Overall, it's considered a success, which is why it's so surprising that those same people who were screaming about welfare 10 years ago now want welfare for their side in the form of school vouchers.
The mail (e- and otherwise) has been pouring in since I exposed the faux conservatives who want the government to pay for their kids to go to private school. Emil Franzi ripped me for engaging in an ad hominem attack--just because I called the voucher people "hypocrites, gluttons, fools or whores." I love a good political debate, but these people have nothing substantive to offer. It's like Was (Not Was) once sang: "They've got a mouth full of 'much obliged' and a hand full of 'gimme.'"
(Emil is also against vouchers, but his point is that tax money comes with strings, opening once-autonomous private schools to state intervention and regulation.)
I try to respond as nicely as possible to the e-mailers, but everyone who uses the term "government school" is automatically disqualified from any rational discourse. I won't even bother trying to contact you, because I figure you're all tired from being kept up all night by those black helicopters flying over your house.
I also have a problem with people who claim that our entire educational system is irretrievably broken. If the American public schools, which educate 90 percent of all kids--no matter how damaged the kids, how economically depressed the community, how reckless the Legislature, or how irresponsible the parent(s)--are so bad, why do we still have the most brilliant scientists, the best thinkers, the greatest country?
While you're at it, would you trade our educational system for any other in the world? Would you really want your kids to go to a Japanese six-day-a-week, learn-by-rote school? Or a British shut-up-or-you'll-get-a-thrashing institution? Somehow, I don't think so.
One guy wrote: "Public education has been reduced to the equivalent of dog shit. The parents who do care ought to have some chance to get their kids out."
I will try to keep this to one syl-la-ble words: Right now, you have the right to send your kid to the school of your choice!!!! (I know "school" has a diphthong, but it's close.)
The vast majority of parents could send their kids to private school right now. It might require a little sacrifice, which is apparently a concept that has skipped town along with shame.
Tighten the belt. Don't go on vacation. Watch TV instead of rented DVDs. Get off the crack pipe. Drive a Honda instead of a SUV. Eat macaroni and cheese. Stop drinking. Buy your clothes at Wal-Mart. There are lots of sacrifices you can make so that you don't have to sacrifice what used to be your principles. It's a matter of how badly you want it.
Plus, most private schools offer scholarships to deserving kids. I know for a fact that Salpointe Catholic High School, for example, allows kids to work off some of their tuition, and good for them. That's certainly better than using taxpayer money to send a kid there or to any other private school.
If you still can't afford the private school, and you're convinced that public schools are the bogeyman, there are charter schools, not all of which stink.
There isn't even one valid reason for supporting school vouchers, unless you think getting something for nothing is valid. Unless you had your fingers crossed all those years that you railed against big government, the welfare society and undeserved handouts at taxpayer expense. Otherwise, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
A good measure of the shame goes to the Goldwater Institute, a What Are They Thinking Tank in Phoenix that has hijacked the name of a conservative icon and won't give it back. In a recent article in the Tucson Citizen, Institute President Darcy Olsen trotted out one red herring after another in a lame effort to bolster her backing of right-wing education welfare, and then closed by basically saying that it's OK to ignore the state Constitution as long as you're doing so to further a selfish crackpot scheme.
The Goldwater Institute's own mission statement reads in part that they champion the policies "of Senator Barry Goldwater during his years of public service--limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility." Exactly which one of those three principles would cover the practice of using hard-earned taxpayer money to send some kid to Exclusive Lilywhite Prep?
And there's more. The statement concludes with "the Goldwater Institute neither seeks nor accepts government funds ..." No, they just want you to, just so long as some public school, teacher or student somewhere gets hurt in the process.
Unless and until you're willing to stand up and say, "I want something for nothing, something I haven't earned and don't deserve or even need," shame on every last one of you voucher people.