Megan McArdle - The hypocrisy of Democratic politiciansMcArdle claims here that the only option for a Democratic politician (from a bad school district, at least) is to take a hypocritical position in order to get elected. There is another option: risk not getting elected and don't be hypocritical. Let's all stop assuming that climbing to the heights of power is an unalterable life goal, a requirement that simply can not be jettisoned no matter what other virtues it may conflict with. What we're dealing with here is the choice between a lie that may harm millions of children and getting a promotion. And we're supposed to believe that people have no choice but to lie in order to secure the new job.
What is intolerable to me is when parents who have exercised school choice for themselves then oppose it for everyone else. Of course, Obama has little choice; the teacher's unions have far too firm a grip on the Democratic party for any of their politicians to buck its wishes.
I imagine McArdle was just bowing to convenience by leaving out the unspoken "little choice if he wants to be elected," but it's the fact that that condition is never challenged that bothers me. Being disciplined about explicitly including that conditional forces people to consider the idea that hey, maybe we don't want this guy, or the other guy, or anyone else who makes these trade-offs, to be elected.
Other that that perhaps convenient but nonetheless inaccurate characterization on her part, I believe McArdle is more or less correct about school choice. The rest of the post is recommended reading.
Vouchers, Democrats say, are no substitute for fixing the schools. This would be true if anyone had anything other than nice-sounding phrases with which to fix them. Giving money to failing urban school districts is like giving money to failing third-world economies; the entrenched interests siphon it off for their own uses. Teacher salaries go up, janitorial pensions get fatter, more administrators are hired. But the kids don't get any smarter.In a very Sex Pistols way, this reminds me of the Warden's comment on prison funding in The Shawshank Redemption: it's only ever approved for more walls, more bars and more guards. McArdle continues,
Obama's plan to fix the schools: more money. More money for teachers, more teachers, more after school programs. Absent are any specifics about what the new teachers will do that is any different from what the current teachers are doing that isn't working.
John McCain doesn't either, but at least he's planning to shake up the educational architecture that gets worse every year.I'll believe it when I see it. Cue Nick Gillespie:
Lots of luck to the kids entering K-12 schools. Prediction for school kids: Very little will change due to policy set at the federal level during your time spent there. Prediction for taxpayers: You will be paying more in federal taxes for education during the next four years, regardless of who is elected.
* Let it be known that this criticism applies to far more than just politicians lying about school choice.