Eric Zorn, Deb Mell, and an issue more deserving of outrage

Click here to learn more about who profits most from the public schools.

Occasionally I find myself reading something written by the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn – today I was lured in by this headline:

“Deb Mell hits for the sleaze cycle on her first day in Springfield”

Zorn is a writer who exemplifies a generation that seems to get most of its news and information from liberal blogs and The Daily Show. There’s an “I’m so enlightened and cool” tone that comes through on Zorn’s pages – it often reminds me of junior high school.

Every now and then liberal writers have to feign disdain over the behavior of Democrats, and so today was Zorn’s time. His target was Governor Rod Blagojevich‘s sister in law Deb Mell, who was the sole vote against impeachment.

Honestly, I could care less about Deb Mell’s vote, but evidently Zorn was horrified. Addressing Deb, Eric writes:

“On your very first day in your very first official act as a member of the General Assembly, you cast a vote that was simultaneously arrogant, ignorant, blind, cowardly and corrupt.”

My mind immediately jumped to the decades of dreadful votes cast by Illinois legislators in support of the corrupt teachers unions in Illinois. The actions of a sister-in-law pale by comparison.

Zorn explains every word he used. Here are my two favorites:

“Arrogant: We, the voters of your district, sent you to Springfield as our representative, not a representative of the Mell family or of your personal interests…

Corrupt. This sounds harsh, but it actually sums up the situation.

A corrupt vote is a vote cast not on the merits of the question or on a sincerely held principle, but it’s a vote cast as part of an effort by a politician to advance his or her personal interests.  Those interests don’t have to be financial. They can be — as they apparently are here — emotional.”

“Not on the merits of the question”?

As I said, I don’t read Zorn’s stuff that often, so maybe I’ve missed it when he’s used similar language to describe the votes cast in Springfield by Republicans and Democrats alike on the subject of the public education. If only he’d apply these same strenuous standards to an issue that has much more significant impact – our failed school system.

Every twelve years another entire generation of kids passes through the public school system – and despite billions of dollars spent, the vast majority of those children are ill-served. The only people who continue to profit handsomely are the adults.

The over-whelming evidence in support of school choice gathered by state and national school reform organizations isn’t able to overcome the teacher union and other Blob PAC money. The interests of public school students, their parents, and taxpayers are ignored. Again – the merits of the question never see the light of day when up against a legislator’s chance to receive lots of campaign cash.

There is an odd belief system that has been formed which says the teacher unions are stronger now than the Soviet Union was in the 1980s. The Berlin Wall might have fallen but parents and K-12 school children can never expect to see freedom.

Baloney. All we need are politicians in both parties to exercise a little audacity of hope – and vision – and courage. If Ronald Reagan can speak of an “evil empire,” “the ash heap of history,” and call on the Soviet leader to “tear down this wall,” surely men and women in our state legislature can similarly use their power to vote in support of genuine school reform.

©2009 John F. Biver