The District’s mayor and school superintendent support the program. But the president has vowed to kill programs that “don’t work.” He has looked high and low and — lo and behold — has found one. By uncanny coincidence, it is detested by the teachers unions that gave approximately four times $15 million to Democratic candidates and liberal causes last year.
Not content with seeing the program set to die after the 2009-10 school year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (former head of Chicago’s school system, which never enrolled an Obama child) gratuitously dashed even the limited hopes of another 200 children and their parents. Duncan, who has sensibly chosen to live with his wife and two children in Virginia rather than in the District, rescinded the scholarships already awarded to those children for the final year of the program, beginning in September. He was, you understand, thinking only of the children and their parents: He would spare them the turmoil of being forced by, well, Duncan and other Democrats to return to terrible public schools after a tantalizing one-year taste of something better. Call that compassionate liberalism.
Will thinks this conjures up memories of forced busing in the 1970s, a significant grievance against liberalism which helped give rise to the Reagan Revolution. I am not sure this has the same impact — or that the spectacle of pulling the plug on popular school choice programs will be duplicated outside of DC. (After all, politicians may be dim, but they are not immune to public anger.)
A larger question is what this all says about the Agent of Change and his willingness to redesign government to better serve citizens rather than special interests. If this is an example rather than the exception, I suspect teachers and public employee unions and trial lawyers won’t have much to worry about when it comes to “reforming” healthcare, education, or anything else. The rest of us on the other hand. . .