Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Feinstein on Vouchers

Lance Izumi from the Pacific Research Institute has a good piece on what Feinstein backing vouchers means for the teachers' unions and public school monopoly.

Do you hear that cracking noise? That's the government-school monopoly dam about to burst.

Up until now, the teachers unions have plugged the holes in the dike using threats and money to make sure lawmakers, especially Democrats, oppose school-choice vouchers. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, however, has just joined a growing number of Democratic elected officials who not only refuse to strengthen the dam but want to tear it down.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Feinstein came out in favor of federally funded vouchers for students in Washington, D.C. Congress has the unique opportunity to implement vouchers in the nation's capital since the federal government provides funds for the city's schools. Thus, according to the proposal before Congress, low-income D.C. students would be eligible for a $7,500 scholarship to pay for tuition, fees and transportation to any D.C. private school. Although D.C.'s Democratic mayor, Anthony Williams, caused a stir when he recently came out for vouchers, the teachers unions have portrayed his support as a self-interested political ploy to get more money for the city's schools.

Feinstein is different. She doesn't have anything to gain by supporting vouchers in D.C. Further, her reputation as a thoughtful centrist-leaning Democrat could swing others in her party to rethink their knee-jerk positions and eventually support school choice.

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