No holds barred education reform

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to meet with the representative of an Illinois business group to discuss the perennial issue of school reform. His review of the problem mostly tracked with my own – low academic performance, high costs, and an unmovable bureaucracy. It’s a decades old tale – the only thing lacking is the political will to force the kinds of changes that will produce the schools taxpayers and children deserve.

This business organization rep, however, insisted that the reform depended upon us avoiding an adversarial tone when dealing with the Illinois education establishment. It’s exactly that kind of thinking that has resulted in stagnation in the so-called “public” schools.

The only way we’ll ever see progress is for our political leaders to stop pussyfooting around with people who are supposed to be “professionals” but are instead mostly good at coming up with excuses for their failures.

In the twenty-six years that have passed since the report “A Nation At Risk” was published a national school reform movement has developed despite the intransigent government run education “blob.” We’ve linked the Heartland Institute’s directories of pro-school choice organizations here:state-basednational.

The reformers have tested and discovered what works. And their innovation hasn’t stopped yet. One of the newest waves is virtual/online schools. Of course the well compensated education bureaucrats continue to resist any meaningful change.

In recent days, even the liberal Washington Post and Chicago Tribune have both editorialized in favor of school choice – one of the oldest reforms on the table.

The Washington Post took the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to task for their efforts to bring about a “slow death for a worthy program” – the “Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program.”

The Heritage Foundation produced a video to draw attention to the effort to save the program.

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke wrote this about the video:

Juan Williams hits the nail on the head. These are real lives. These are real children who are being adversely affected by the decisions of members of Congress. Decisions that are in many cases, hypocritical. More than 40 percent of members of Congress have at one point sent a child to private school. The President sends his children to private school. The Secretary of Education bought a home in Virginia so his children would not have to attend D.C. public schools.

Ed Feulner, Heritage’s president, recently wrote:

Sadly, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is leading the charge in Congress to end a promising school choice program in Washington, D.C. — a program strongly opposed by the teachers union.

An Illinois politician acting as if he owes his existence to his masters in the teacher unions is just another day here in tax-eater paradise.

The Obama loving Chicago Tribune editorialized its shock!, shock!, that teacher unions put collective bargaining above student performance. They wrote that evidently state Senator James Meeks has been “in a war with the Chicago Teachers Union” and has returned the $4,000 he had received in donations to the Illinois Education Association PAC. Meeks now supports school choice.

Note the words “in a war with…” The Illinois business community needs to learn from Sen. Meeks. The government run school establishment is an adversary to genuine reform – and they must be treated as such.