July 18, 2003

Doing Union Bidding

Dutiful Senate Democrats, always asking "how high?" when the teachers unions say "Jump!", are threatening to filibuster a school choice bill that is the result of months of negotiation, and has the approval of the Democratic mayor and many other D.C. liberals. Today's Washington Post editorial slams them for blocking this bipartisan, much-needed legislation:

Perhaps the Democrats are suffering from a misapprehension: The school choice initiative is not some partisan program being foisted on the District by the White House. This is an experiment that many of the city's Democratic leaders, most notably the city's mayor, have finally concluded is worth trying, to help the city's poorest children. It is inexcusable for a group of senators, many from distant states, to turn this into a partisan issue of their own. Instead, they should fight to make the D.C. school system work better for more children, in public, private and charter schools across the city.

One third of the bill's funding goes to vouchers, another to charter schools, and the third to existing public schools. Democrats threaten to withhold support unless the "voucher provision" is revoked. The voucher provision is the reason the legislation exists! The rest is payoff to public schools so they can't claim that vouchers drain money from their system.

The Post suggests that Dems might be acting on a "misapprehension", as if they aren't aware that this bill has bipartisan support. In other words, it would be okay to oppose this bill, and deny poor D.C. children school choice, if this legislation were a White House initiative, and thus by nature "partisan". At least here the Post acknowledges that it is not principle or the creation of sound public policy that earns the votes of Senate Democrats. What is truly sad is that one gets the feeling teachers unions, and hence Democrats, oppose school choice not because they think it will fail, but because they fear it will succeed.

Posted by dan at July 18, 2003 11:40 AM