New group made of Democrats joins school choice movement
In a press release issued by DISCO, the group rails against what it calls the hypocrisy of many Democratic legislators:
Yet many Democratic legislators who themselves attended special admissions magnet schools or private suburban schools and whose children do the same vigorously oppose SB1. While their families receive top notch educations they insist that poor, inner city families are forced to wait, to remain in violent, failing schools. Recently, President Obama, whose own children attend the exclusive Sidwell Friends School with tuition in excess of $33,000/year, agreed to extend the popular Washington D.C. Hope Scholarship voucher program as part of the federal budget compromise. While this compromise was certainly no profile in courage, it is a step in the right direction. Hypocrisy among Democratic lawmakers can no longer be tolerated while our children suffer.
“I’m a life long Democrat as are all of DISCO’s board members, but we have to put our children’s futures above partisan politics. DISCO will be active in the school choice debate and is dedicated to convincing Democrat legislators that they must reject the status quo, stop favoring teachers unions over children and immediately pass SB1. We owe it to the kids,” said Ms. Randleman.
Philadelphia has generated several leading school choice advocates, including Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Anthony H. Williams, one of the two authors of SB 1.
The city’s ongoing bout with poverty has particularly stung its public school system. The press release provides the numbers:
The statistics in Philadelphia are truly frightening. In 2009 only 38% of the city’s 11th grade students were proficient in reading and only 32% were proficient in math. Of the country’s 50 largest school districts, Philadelphia ranks 41st in high school graduation rate and only 10% of the city’s 9th graders will graduate from college.
Philadelphia has 91 of the State’s 144 worst performing schools; Pittsburgh and Harrisburg each have 9.
The press release began with two quotes by Martin Luther King Jr.: “’Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never’” and “We must come to see … that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’”
Among the rank and file of the school choice movement are several minority groups. The Hispanic Council for Reform and Education Options is one umbrella organization with close ties to the DeVos family affiliated American Federation for Children (AFC). It is headed by Julio Fuentes, who also founded the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and sits on the board of Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, according to his bio on the Hispanic CREO website.
Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is a District of Columbia based school choice group headed by voucher and charter school advocate Kevin P. Chavous (PDF), a lawyer and former member of the D.C. City Council until he lost in a 2004 primary to now D.C. Mayor Vincent Grey. BAEO, also affiliated with AFC, was previously chaired by Howard Fuller — one of the architects of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program that’s viewed as a model for school choice expansion in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker introduced the expansion in his 2012-2013 state budget proposal while asking for $834 million in cuts to K-12 spending.
SB 1 has gone through several versions — the latest hammered out by state senate leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett’s office. One of its chief additions is an expansion of the income eligibility threshold. If passed, the statewide voucher program would welcome students of families with incomes 350 percent of the federal poverty line by the program’s fourth year of existence.
The original language of the bill would have provided vouchers based on incomes below 180 percent of the poverty line, which is the state’s benchmark for issuing in-school meal subsidies. Students of families with rising incomes that no longer earned below the annual wage limit would have been allowed to stay on the program pro-rata until the eighth grade. That means the latest version of the bill would permit households with incomes just under $80,000 to enroll.
[...] I like the nightlife, and I’ve got to boogie, so I’m pleased to hear of a new organization called DISCO: Democrats Impatient for School Choice Organization. [...]
Is contact information for DISCO and/or the original press release available?