16 June 2008

It's like watching a good friend slide into dementia...

Anyone else notice the Post's editorials slipping from moderate to right-wing lately? On June 12, their lead editorial was a paean to the public-money-for-private-schools experiment foisted upon us by the U.S. Congress during one of their darker right-wing days. Oh sure, it sounds great: 1,900 scholarships handed out to low-income families so their children can attend private schools. It's an amazing piece of largesse from the radical right-wing leadership that attempted to strip public funding from social services across the board...but not from giveaways that would undermine public education.

Seriously, who wants to be against giving children more access to education? It sounds insane until you start asking the same questions of other Constitutional issues, like "who wants to be against law enforcement?" or "who wants to be on the side of the terrorists?" -- in other words, it's a trojan horse.

For starters, these vouchers aren't the kind that will get you to Sidwell Friends, St. Albans, or any other high-end private school. These vouchers are basically enough to get you to Catholic school, which I'm not knocking, but let's not pretend that these vouchers "level the playing field" and let's not forget that in D.C., the Catholic church -- one of the largest tax-free landholders in the District -- is backing away from its mission to provide education for its parishioners and trying to turn its private schools into public charter schools. Essentially, the vouchers provide a public subsidy to private schools, and in their amounts, they are providing de facto public subsidies to religious institutions.

I wonder if the Post would be so enamored of the program if instead of providing education vouchers, Congress decided that it should get in the business of providing free subscriptions to the Washington Times to help District residents with "media choice."

Interestingly enough, the Post sees in the likely demise of this federal program a plot against Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee's school "reforms," as they put it. Never mind that the federal voucher program predates the Fenty/Rhee takeover of the District's schools and never mind that a federal program to subsidize private enterprise should have absolutely nothing at all to do with how the mayor conducts reform of public education...just read the Post's bombastic fear-mongering conclusion:
Much, though certainly not all, of the opposition to vouchers is rooted in Democratic interest-group politics and the traditional resistance of teachers unions to change. And that is what should worry Mr. Fenty. If this worthwhile program can be sacrificed, so can the many vital reforms he and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are hoping to put in place.

Oooooo! It's the big, bad "Democratic interest-groups" and the "teachers unions" who are to blame for trying to scuttle a Constitutionally suspect federal giveaway to religious institutions. I'm surprised they didn't take a swipe at the ACLU while they were at it. And what are these "vital reforms" of Fenty and Rhee that the Post alludes to? Doing away with due process? Finally scuttling that "quaint notion" that job decisions should be based on performance?

If you put two and two together, though, you realize that someone at the Post is on an anti-union crusade...after all, the Post as a business is fairly aggressive with fighting its own employees. Today, the second editorial decried Montgomery County government for its inability to stand up to what the Post calls "union bullying." Honestly, if I put the editorial up without attributing the source, readers would most likely conclude it was from the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the John Birch Society.

Apparently the Post believes that unions -- those organizations that gave us things like child-labor laws, weekends, health-care benefits, paid vacation and sick leave, workplace safety standards, and in general higher standards of living -- are little more than self-interest groups.

Frankly, I'm getting sick of the Post.

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