Democrats’ favorite method of shutting down debate is to accuse Republicans of secretly promoting racist agendas. Opposing socialized medicine is racist, stopping illegal immigration is racist, and—if you listen to liberal bloggers who wrote endless gasbag analyses of the incident—Rep. Joe Wilson yelling “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech on health care was racist. But forcing thousands of black kids to return to substandard public schools is apparently all good.
Two weeks ago, Democrats defunded the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program, which serves a city that is 54 percent black and 20 percent impoverished. The high school graduation rate is 58 percent, one of the worst in the country, and in 2006, half of the public schools failed to meet basic federal education standards.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program offered poor children a quality education at half the taxpayer expense: $7,500 as opposed to the $14,000 Washington currently spends per student. In response to the Democrats’ decision, former DC councilman Kevin Chavous said, “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.”
Substandard education at twice the cost? It makes no sense—until you realize that Democrats only care about paying off greedy teachers’ unions, not quality education for poor black kids. In March, the National Education Association fired off threatening letters to members of Congress, claiming the voucher program was a “failure.” (This was an ironic accusation from a union whose members can’t get half of DC students to graduate from high school.) The NEA’s solution to failing public schools was the same as always: give teachers more money.
There is zero evidence that raising public school teachers’ salaries benefits children, let alone poor children in failing districts. Barack Obama knows this. In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” he recounts a visit to a poor, predominantly black school in Chicago. As he described it, “Their number one issue was this: Because the school district couldn’t afford to keep teachers for a full day, they let out every day at 1:30 in the afternoon. There was no time for students to take science lab or foreign language classes. ‘How come we’re getting shortchanged?’ they asked me.”
Here’s the answer: the average teacher at the school was making $83,000 per year, and over one-quarter were making more than $100,000. They didn’t think they should have to work for any less. With such exorbitant teacher salaries, it’s no wonder the school couldn’t “afford” to stay open.
The Democrats defunded the scholarship program over the objections of DC’s residents, 70 percent of whom support it. But what do the Democrats care? They’ve ensured that teachers’ unions will continue giving millions of dollars to their campaigns. Sasha and Malia Obama, apparently the only black children in DC entitled to a decent education, will still attend Sidwell Friends (annual tuition: $30,842). Meanwhile, public school teachers will be paid $80,000 to leave work at noon, shortchanging their already impoverished students.
Who doesn’t care about black people now?