LETTERS: School choice, Dems, and debates

BY

School choice not the answer

I welcomed Katie Biber’s column on school choice, as it contributed to an important debate. However, I disagreed on a few points. It seems that the experience of Kansas City, as described by Biber, suggests a serious misdirection of funds, rather than proof that public schools do not need more funding. While I agree that more funding is not sufficient, it is certainly necessary to improve our schools. The development of high standards for teachers and students — and their vigilant administration — will certainly require an increase in funds. Hiring more teachers and expanding school buildings in response to a growing student body so that classes are small, manageable and easy to discipline will also require more money.

Providing parents with a choice of schools does sound ideal. But what exactly are these better schools? Who will monitor their quality? Can we afford to send every child in America to the school of his or her choice, when we cannot afford to implement workable standards in the schools we have now? Or do we have to accept that many children will be left behind in the public schools we are no longer “protecting” from their failures?

And what of children who are not blessed with attentive parents? Who will ensure that they find the best school for them? I believe these children are the most at risk and the most in need of a good education. If they do not have parents who make an effort or do not immediately stand out as academic stars, I fear that they will be left behind in the public schools we’ve deemed a failure. By wisely investing resources in fixing our current system, could we avoid making these children the unfortunate “guinea pigs” of a well-intentioned school choice experiment?

These kinds of issues, not the speculated motives of the Federalists or liberals, should be the focus of discussion.

— Charlotte Bednar, 3L


Democrats caused own downfall

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations last week regarding the impending conflict with Iraq, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opined, “If the Democrats had spoken out more clearly in a unified vote five months ago in opposition to the [Congressional] resolution [authorizing the use of force against Iraq,] I think we might have been in a different place today.” Too true.

Instead of mealy-mouthed, half-hearted foot-dragging, if the Democrats had more vehemently opposed President Bush’s policy towards Iraq last fall, they certainly would be in a different place today. Along with Jim Talent, Saxby Chambliss, John Sununu, Elizabeth Dole and Norm Coleman, John Thune (R-SD), Suzanne Haik Terrell (R-LA) and Doug Forrester (R-NJ) would be in the United States Senate. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) would be unemployed. House Speaker Dennis Hastert would be able to enjoy a 50-vote margin instead of a 23-vote margin. Arizona, Illinois and maybe even California would be able to benefit from a Republican in the governor’s mansion. And most importantly, all of these races could have been safely called by 10 p.m. EST.

Pelosi’s assessment of why her party failed so miserably last November shows how far out of touch with the rest of the country the Democrats really are. It was the President’s willingness to put his own political capital on the line that helped the Republicans reverse all historical trends by gaining seats in both houses of Congress in an off-year election. Increased obstructionism by the Democrats would not have helped their cause; rather, it would have increased the Republican margin of victory.

The American people like and trust President Bush. As long as Pelosi fails to grasp this point, her party will continue to lose at the polls.

— John Hilton, 1L


Anti-Strang letters made real arguments

In a letter to last week’s RECORD, Joshua Johnson claims that those who wrote to criticize Lee Strang’s editorial on homosexuality and the Lawrence case did not respond to Strang’s arguments but instead taunted him with “playground insults.” On the contrary, however, I thought that I was doing exactly what Johnson claims to want in suggesting the logical flaw in Strang demanding protection for his own parochial religious views while attacking state tolerance for those who are different from him. The point is that Strang thinks I am an immoral sinner and I think he is an ignorant bigot but we are both entitled to our points of view free from state interference.

In fact, I agree with Johnson that The RECORD deserves praise for publishing both Strang’s editorial and our letters in response. Part of engaging in such a free debate, however, is actually responding to what the other side says.

— Daniel Weiner, 1L

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