Vouchers, DC Public Education Reform Hype
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Wednesday, January 26, 2011
||Robert Vinson Braunnum
Two of the biggest public education stories hyped and misreported about public education in the District of Columbia are former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee was or is a successful education leader and the D.C. Scholarship Opportunity Program (DCSOP) was a success. Editorial boards and journalists for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times have misrepresented the tenure of Ms. Rhee and misreported the success of the DCSOP.
Later this morning, Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and House Speaker John Boehner will offer legislation to force back onto the people of the District a failed federal private school voucher program. Senator Lieberman and Speaker Boehner assert this legislation is for the children of the District. Not only are they being intellectually dishonest, they are also being intellectually hypocritical.
While there are certain school districts across America with similar or lower academic achievement rates than the District public school system, none have faced the cavalier and biased national media coverage than the District. Moreover, only the District public school system has to endure the unending interference of media hungry members of Congress.
Like many other school districts across America, DCPS is experiencing severe institutional challenges as it seeks to rebrand and rebuild. Contrary to the factual misrepresentations and hostile leadership of Ms. Rhee, former D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty; DC public school teachers, parents, and community advocates were not embedded to the status quo resisting change.
The idea this predominately African-American school system has failed for the last 50 years is false. The premise teachers, parents, and community advocates of this predominately African-American public school system do not want high quality public education for their children is wrong and racist.
Regardless of how it is presented by Speaker Boehner, Senator Lieberman, and voucher supporters, this private school voucher program is not designed to support DCPS and all District children. This voucher program, promoted by former D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous and Ms. Virginia Walden Ford, Executive Director of DC Parents for School Choice, encourages parents and the public to give up on improving District public education and to abandon DCPS. Let's be honest, every individual choice does not get paid for at the government's expense.
Neither Mr. Chavous nor Ms. Ford is interested in an open and honest debate about District vouchers. That's understandable since District residents have already voted in a referendum against vochers. Mr. Chavous and Ms. Ford's primary and singular concern is to get undue special treatment. That Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman have steadfastly refused to meet with a broad spectrum of District residents and reputable District community organizations about their voucher legislation makes bogus of their claim this is what the people of the District desire.
National cable news media outlets, such as CNN, Foxnews, MSNBC, and the major news outlets purposely and intentionally misreport this issue of District private school vouchers. Moreover, for the past four years, the media has been serving as the public relations arm for former DCPS Chancellor Rhee to promote herself, at the expense of District children and the truth.
Mr. Marc Fisher, columnist for The Washington Post, following a recent forum about D.C. public schools, was asked why he does not talk with local District wards councils on education. His responded "They have nothing to offer to the discussion." Mr. Fisher's thoughtless attitude reflects a clear mental block toward the principal of accurate reporting and represents the cultural intellectual bigotry in America's newsroom.
After the announcement of this legislation, Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman will get great headlines in newspapers and airtime on various news broadcasts as champions of public education reform and advocates for District children. It is unfortunate those who know the truth District vouchers will be misrepresented and ignored by journalists.