Thursday, March 19, 2009

blowing up Durbin's defense of injustice and inefficiency

Some blowback from a William McGurn WSJ editorial-- when Sen. Dick Durbin replies-- and then WSJ readers respond...

(I can't find Durbin's response on-line, but one can infer what he wrote from the replies. If someone finds the link to his comments, please add it.)

Assuming for the sake of argument that Mr. Durbin is right and that out of 1,700 students enrolled in the Opportunity Scholarship Program, some, no doubt very few, are learning in a "single room in a church basement." It begs a question: Are they learning more and better than publicly schooled children in the district? We know that many home-schooled children excel academically no matter where they are taught or with whom they study. If this were truly an issue, rest assured that Mr. Durbin would provide whatever detailed support the National Education Association could provide.

If Mr. Durbin believes that the measure of successful federal expenditures should assure "demonstrable evidence that students are performing better," he should demand the same of all federal programs, shouldn't he? Mr. Durbin has voted for trillions of dollars in spending. Why exactly does this piddling amount capture his attention? Surely he can find larger issues for his attention.

Finally, one might think this was Mr. Durbin's money: "I chair the subcommittee which oversees funding"; and "I've funded the program for an additional year"; and "If the program is reauthorized, and the district approves it, I will continue to see that it's funded" (emphasis added)....

Royal S. Dellinger
Rockville, Md.

Sen. Durbin's case against the Opportunity Scholarship Program (i.e., vouchers to attend private schools in the District of Columbia) is that some of the private schools have "substantial problems." He forgot to mention that virtually all of the D.C. public schools have debilitating problems. Enormous amounts of cash thrown at those public schools have disappeared in a maze of hopeless and changeless bureaucratic inertia.

Sen. Durbin's mutually rewarding relationships with unions of all shapes and sizes are no secret. Today's lesson from Sen. Durbin, then, is that a teachers union gold mine is a terrible thing for a politician to waste.

R.D. Shipley
Stamford, Conn.

It's hard to believe the scholarship program costs merely $7,500 per pupil. This is far less than the $24,000 spent on each D.C. public school student.

Compare that to the Obamas, who send both of their children to the prestigious Sidwell Friends School, for more than $28,000 per child, and the value of the Opportunity Scholarship Program becomes apparent. Let's hope President Obama ends his silence on the issue and stands up for D.C.'s underprivileged kids.

William Gangware
New Haven, Conn.


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