Many on the political left have supported school vouchers for years
WASHINGTON, D.C. – There are a lot of “progressives” in America who want the public to believe private school vouchers and other school choice options were created by radical conservatives who want to privatize public education.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told attendees at a recent “Rally to Defend Public Education” – sponsored by Progressive Magazine – that “we have to defend public education because it will slip through our fingers if we don’t.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to defend something that should be an inalienable right,” Lewis said. “Children should not have to shop for an education. That should be an insult to every single parent on the planet.”
Lewis and other progressives like Diane Ravitch, American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda Weingarten, domestic terrorist-turned-teacher Bill Ayers, and countless politicians across the country routinely paint school choice and vouchers as the favored tools of money-grubbing corporate school privateers.
In this ongoing war between these progressives and school reform advocates, Lewis told those at the progressive rally that “one of the most important things we can do as defenders of public education is to speak the truth.”
How’s this for truth: Progressive Democrats have a long history of supporting private school vouchers, and a growing number of modern progressives disagree with their anti-school choice peers.
“The truth is, Democrats have a longer history than Republicans of supporting educational choice,” redefinED has repeatedly noted. “The late Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once drafted a tuition tax credit measure with Republican Sen. Bob Packwood that garnered 50 co-sponsors, including Sen. George McGovern and 23 other Democrats.
“In fact, the Democratic Party didn’t abandon its support of public funding for private school choice until the National Education Association gave Jimmy Carter its first-ever presidential endorsement in 1976. With that endorsement, Carter reversed field,” according to the education blog. “Despite charges to the contrary, school choice is not a right-wing plot to privatize public education.”
Ron Matus, director of the nonprofit Step Up For Students – which administers Florida’s tax-funded voucher program for low-income students, further illustrated that point in a recent editorial for the Gainesville Sun.
“The truth is, practical concerns of parents are driving the (school choice) movement, not ideology,” Matus wrote.
Matus cites support for school choice from Joe Trippi, “the legendary Democratic consultant” who told Matus “we should try them all,” referring to available school choice options like vouchers and charter schools. Trippi has been one of the biggest cheerleaders of National School Choice Week, an annual event each January that promotes various educational options.
Matus also points to President Obama, former President Clinton, and Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as “die-hard” charter school supporters. There is also former Newark mayor and current U.S. Sen. Corey Booker, former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, and other progressives who support private school vouchers.
Even Elizabeth Warren, one of the most “progressive” politicians on Capitol Hill, seems to be embracing the power of school choice, though her support is limited to public school options.
“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system,” Warren said, according to Matus. “But the shakeout might be just what the system needs.”
The bottom line is school choice transcends political affiliations and is supported by people of all stripes, and “anti-choice” progressives like Lewis, Weingarten and others who are trying their best to convince the public otherwise are either woefully ignorant, or willfully deceiving the very people they purport to serve.
Authored by Victor Skinner