The Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s Xavier Lopez’s recent post calls for their activists to call Sens. Klobuchar and Franken to Speak Up For Education and Kids:

As a Minnesotan, I take pride in our state’s education system.

But Republican Governor Candidate Tom Emmer, and his support for Tim Pawlenty’s cuts to K-12 education, are putting Minnesota on the wrong track.

Our state’s economy is closely tied with the success of our schools. Without enough funding, our schools have crowded classrooms, little or no music, arts and physical education programs and some schools are even being forced to move to a four day school week.

We can’t succeed in a global economy if we’re cheating our kids out of the quality education that they deserve.

Instead of addressing these problems, Republicans like Emmer and Pawlenty are playing partisan games with our children’s education by not applying for free federal money money that could fill part of the budget hole.

You have an opportunity to reverse the mistake of Republicans and secure funding to protect teacher jobs around the state.

Please call Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken at at 1-866-608-6355 to urge them to support the Keep Our Educators Working Act. This legislation will help Minnesota provide desperately needed money to school districts that will save or create 5,200 jobs across the state.

What’s odd about this is that David Obey wrote language into the Omnibus Spending Bill to kill the DC Opportunity Scholarship program. The leaders of D.C.’s school choice movement, Kevin P. Chavous (former D.C. Councilman) and Virginia Walden Ford (executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice issued this statement criticizing Obey’s bill:

“House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program “for D.C.’s poorest families” has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.

The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.

Yet, despite the clearly positive results and the proven success of this program, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jose Serrano, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Secretary Arne Duncan worked together to kill the OSP. Funding the program only for existing children shrinks the program each year, compromises the federal evaluation of the program, denies entry to the siblings of existing participants, and punishes those children waiting in line by sentencing them to failing and often unsafe schools.

What is incredibly disappointing to low-income families in Washington, D.C. has been the silence of President Barack Obama. The President, who benefited from K-12 scholarships himself, worked on behalf of low-income families in Chicago, and exercises school choice as a parent, has stood silently on the sidelines while his Secretary of Education belittled the importance of helping such a small number of children in the nation’s capital.

Now, the fate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the low-income children it serves and could serve depends on the willingness of Congressional supporters to insist that the FY 2010 budget allows additional children to participate in the OSP. We call on President Obama and Senator Durbin to stand up and do the right thing. Stand with the children of low-income families in Washington, D.C. who deserve access to a quality education right now “not five years from now” but right now. These children deserve that opportunity.”

The Democrats keep talking like they’re for the children. At the time, I wrote a post titled “The Lobbyists vs. the Children“, in which I scolded the Democrats for putting a higher priority on what the unions want than on what’s best for children.

According to this lengthy policy paper, the NEA opposed the OSP:

NEA opposes any extension of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program beyond what is currently provided for under current law. This voucher program, designed as a five-year pilot, has already been extended for one additional year specifically to allow participating students and schools to adjust to the program’s termination and make the necessary transitions. The program has not been proven to increase student achievement. There is no reason to continue to divert scarce resources to a pilot program that has been proven ineffective.

Vouchers are not real education reform. Pulling 1,700 children out of a system that serves 65,000 doesn’t solve problems; it ignores them. Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers. Rather than offering a chance for a few, we should be ensuring that every child has access to a great public school.

The premise of their statement is wrong. Parents should be given the widest range of educational opportunities possible. Saying that “1,700 children are pulled out of” public schools is backwards thinking. The public schools aren’t entitled to the money regardless of what the NEA or EdMinn says.

I’d also take issue with the statement that the DC public school system serves 65,000 students. I’ll agree that there are 65,000 students currently attending public schools but I refuse to agree that the schools are serving them. I’d argue that the NEA did underprivileged DC children a disservice by opposing the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.

It’s the height of chutzpah for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota to criticize Tom Emmer’s education policies simply because he wants to give parents the biggest set of education options rather than giving EdMinn the funding that they want. After a certain point, it’s about the educational outcomes, not the dollars.

It’s time for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota to get called on their advocacy for union policies rather than advocating for children. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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2 Responses to “Alliance for a Better America Opposes School Choice”

  • J. Ewing says:

    All they know is that the only thing which matters to “educating” children is how much money can be spent doing it. Since there is no actual correlation between the two (and in fact the apparent correlation is negative), it is utter nonsense on its face, and we ought to start saying so.

    I find one of the best questions for these dimwits is “if we increase funding as you request, how much will academic achievement improve?”

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