An article in the Trentonian on Tuesday defended school choice as a civil rights issue. It’s an apt comparison. As the article points out:
School choice is largely a civil rights issue. Many children from low-income families are stuck in dysfunctional public schools. Inferior, segregated, separate-but-supposedly-equal education was a key battleground of the Civil Rights Movement.
Today’s dysfunctional public schools are largely the result of socio-economic segregation rather than outright racial segregation, but that reality doesn’t make school-choice any less of a civil-rights issue.
The children who are consigned to failing public schools are largely African-American and Latino, and poor schools penalize them for life no less than the segregated schools that Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus once defended did.
In New Jersey, state Sen. Ray Lesniak, no conservative he, has teamed up with Republican Sen. Tom Kean to sponsor a five-year school-choice pilot program. Now there’s bipartisanship for you!
Their Opportunity Scholarship Act would be funded by private corporations, which would receive tax credits for providing the scholarships. The scholarships would be available to students in chronically dysfunctional schools as measured by low-achievement test results.
To recap, this program would allow low income children to escape failing schools and give families more control over education, all at no cost to taxpayers. This is good news for everyone. Well, almost everyone. The teacher’s union is predictably galvanized.
The New Jersey Education Association, the big public school employes union, is opposed, adamantly, unalterably. The union denounces the proposal as “vouchers,” a term that musters the NJEA for battle faster than, alas, illiteracy or innumeracy do.
It’s sad that bureaucrats would rather secure their monopoly than help children. Fortunately, the Heritage Foundation has something to say about this. Check out their Let Me Rise campaign here. Also see what Reason has to say about the Opportunity Scholarship in DC.