New Idea for the New Year -Updated

This is an idea I love, out of the blogosphere, via Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, who writes:

KILLING THE D.C. SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM: Because protecting bureaucrats’ rice bowls is more important than, you know, actually educating. UPDATE: “Democrats Resegregate DC School System.”

We discussed this here a few months ago:

Pay attention to the former Headmaster of Sidwell Friends School (where Chelsea Clinton, went, and Malia and Sasha Obama currently attend), who seems utterly baffled as to why a program that is so clearly a good and necessary thing is so despised by the Democrat party, and ignored by a President who himself went to private schools on scholarship. Also, listen to Virginia Walden Ford, the Executive Director of DC Parents for School Choice; the lady who speaks as a mother and states it plainly: “…this is one of the few programs that is government funded that is working.”

The voucher program, begun under President George W. Bush, was working very effectively. Yes, it was a “bandage” measure meant to staunch one gaping wound in an educational system that is bleeding out from every limb, but when a bandage is all you have, you apply it where it does the most good; helping kids escape failing schools was a good application. Education has become so politicized that a meaningful “fix” may take decades; our kids can’t wait for that.

Reynolds updated his link with thoughts from one of his readers:

I keep thinking -hard- about what an amazing example the DC Voucher program could be… if it was really adopted as a cause celebre on the right. Not just as a punchline, but as a going concern. There just aren’t that many recipients, and there’s a mighty strong overlap in DC between “underprivileged” and “permanent Democrat voters.” And these identical voters are personally steamed. They can recognize being completely jobbed. If there’s one spot to push to shatter this particular unholy alliance, it is precisely this spot.

Think of it as a reverse-ACORN. Scholarships are strictly need based – not race based. An endowment focused on K-12 instead of higher education. I’m not quite sure the Glenn Reynolds DC Scholarship Fund has quite enough panache . . .but just think of the same idea with different marquee players:
The Ronald Reagan Scholarship Fund.
The Rush Limbaugh Scholarship Fund.
The Sarah Palin Scholarship fund.

Wrote Glenn:

What do you think? Reach out to these folks and raise some money? (More here). Though that bit about lacking panache kinda hurts . . . .Arnold Kling likes the idea:

“The conflict between voluntary charity and progressive tax-funded spending is a very interesting potential battleground. Progressives want to shift away from charitable giving and toward taxes, while libertarians (or civil societarians) ought to be aiming for the reverse.”

Political considerations aside, I just think this is a terrific way
to help effect genuine change for the better in the lives of our children (and thus in the life of our nation. My immediate thought ran along these lines: My blog may be small, but it has the best and most generous readers around; wouldn’t it be great if we could establish an “Anchoress Scholarship Fund for DC,” where we raise enough each year to purchase a voucher for one student? And other bloggers could do the same thing! I could imagine a Glenn Reynolds Scholarship Fund, and Althouse-Meade Scholarship Fund, the First Things First Fund for DC, the HotAir DC Scholarship Fund, the Small Dead Animals Fund, the Blogs Lucianne Loves Fund for Scholarships, the Deacon’s Bench DC Fund and Little Miss Attila Fund for Student-Warriors (the recipient might be required to identify Attila…).

Then I realized that a million bloggers creating a million funds might end up -like messy big government- being too sprawling and disorganized to be effective, accountable and measurable.

So, why not streamline the effort? Why can’t we take a page from the Soldier’s Angels and Project Valor, whereby bloggers and their readers are encouraged to fund-raise and donate to the scholarship fund under the aegis of their favorite site. The Anchoress, being a smaller site, might only be able to send one kid to a better school, while a huge site like HotAir or Malkin or Gateway Pundit might be able to help dozens. The centralized collection makes it manageable, the individual blogger effort makes it fun and competitive, and in the end thousands (perhaps millions) of people who are frustrated by a situation that has not gotten better under the guidance of government will be working together to effect real (not hopeychangey) change in a small but powerful way, while demonstrating some important truths to the whole nation: that government is not the solution to every problem – in fact it is often the lumbering impediment to solutions; that unquestioning allegiance to a political party should never trump one’s allegiance to the nation-at-large; that caricatures and stereotypes have had their day and should have no part in 21-Century American determinism.

I’d like to be in on the creation of such an effort. I think this is a terrific and positive note on which to begin a new year, particularly one in which governmental leadership suggests itself to be moribund and completely mad. If something like this were to succeed, it could even be expanded to include vocational training and apprenticeships for those who would prefer to learn the sort of blue-collar, non-outsourceable and completely respectable jobs that so many of our young people no longer consider because the “you’re nothing without a degree” narrative has become so all-consuming.

Cold Fury: is liking this notion, too

Your thoughts?

I think this post gets filed under “Remaking America,”
and “Crisis and Opportunity,” although it is not in the Obama/Emmanuel Way.

O/T – in other New Year’s News, Bookie has a sobering round up

Speaking of sobering…

For the new year: Some Predictions from Inside Catholic

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • driver

    I loved the idea when I first saw it on Glenn’s site. The problem with managing donations is all the red tape and record-keeping involved, so I wonder if a campaign organized by bloggers to contribute to this charity—The Washington Scholarship Fund—might not be the best way to go. They are already set up as a 501(c)(3), and apparently have the staff and organization in place to distribute substantial sums. I have no personal knowledge of the organization, but this is from their web site:

    “The Washington Scholarship Fund (WSF) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1993 to increase educational opportunities for low-income students and families in Washington, D.C. To accomplish this, we operate two distinct K-12 scholarship programs: the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (D.C. OSP) and the Signature Scholarship Program (SSP).

    WSF is the largest Kindergarten through 12th grade scholarship-granting organization in the District, distributing nearly $76.3 million in privately- and publicly-funded scholarships and serving nearly 7,300 students in 16 years of operation. During the current school year (2008-2009), we are working with over 2,000 D.C. students – and their families – who are attending nearly 90 area-private schools through both of our programs.

    Thanks to all those who are supporting the Washington Scholarship Fund and our work to ensure D.C. students have access to the learning environments that are best for them. We invite you to contact WSF directly to make a donation, or give easily online through Network for Good.”

  • Sissy Willis

    Retaking the Shining City Upon a Hill!

    It’s Glenn Reynolds’s DISINTERMEDIATION — my own suggestion for 2010′s Word of the Year — in action:


  • Maria

    Nice to know the work is already being done.

  • dry valleys

    I attended one of the worst schools in Britain, probably in the whole of Europe- as it is in a very deprived urban area in a city notorious throughout the country (they snigger when you tell them where you’re from- you can see it). So I have very much my own thoughts about education, & if there’s one thing I do know it’s that working-class people are not morons, & a lack of qualifications or going to a lesser university doesn’t prove anything negative. I like people who are on an upward trajectory- such as, did badly at school, undefeated, carved out something for himself later on. Not necessarily in qualifications but in private reading.

    Obviously as an avid reader since I was first taught my letters I know about this- isn’t it depressing when you meet an illiterate?- I do value formal education but it isn’t the whole story.

    When I have mixed with people who can just about afford private education for their kids I advise against it. I see why people move to affluent areas that they have to sacrifice to afford the mortgage on- the scrambling for a decent school place is horrifying, especially for someone whose parents had no realistic prospect of any of that- but I think a child with reading, supportive parents will do fairly well anywhere.

    I also think, strongly, that a school should be a community. People who only mix with the affluent end up quite possibly even worse off than those who live amongst the very poor- it is disconcerting that in Britain, & possibly even more so in America, there exists an overclass cut off from society just as surely as people living on some estate somewhere. (They call the place I grew up “tin town” because some of the houses look like prefabs- even we, on the street I lived on, would look down on them).

    I support, essentially, fully comprehensive schools. We used at one stage to have a system that, for all it was dressed up as something else, had some state schools for more academic pupils & some for those considered to be factory fodder. I see the point in them, & a system which is similar but better & less crude exists in Germany, but it was also riddled with flaws & in my view should not be brought back.

    So I would like to see some form of school as a microcosm of society, without concentrations of rich, or poor, or able or less able. I do think that sending people from modest homes on scholarships is a bit tokenistic- as it will always leave people behind.

    But this I will say. A system which is in place in Britain, without whose help I would certainly not be able to write this comment, is the system of “streaming” whereby pupils are taught in groups according to ability. They have it, & it is opposed by some, but I will withstand their opposition.

    The usual whingers say that it upsets the less able. But the fact is, it’s a better system than having them in altogether different schools & if there is streaming in all subjects a pupil is bound to be good at something. I was in the bottom set for art- only the fact that I was scared of the art teacher prevented me from expressing my deeply uncomplimentary views on her & her subject :)

    I see nothing radically wrong withy the state school system as it is- in all honesty, I don’t shed any tears when I hear about private schools closing due to the recession- but I think it is better to aim lessons at the ability of pupils rather than pretend they can all magically learn at the same pace. We had mixed ability teaching in English but not in other subjects- though having said that, I found English veryy, but very boring- we had to read stuff like Of Mice And Men which probably are of literary worth, but which I would never in a million years want to open up :)

    But it is my view that education would be improved if some way were found of getting certain parents, & it is certain parents, to actually care whether their children live or die & take an interest in their education. Because they exist as a sort of plughole down which any hopes the likes of me might have had get dragged down.

    I have always thought that only a tiny minority of people are hardcore scum. Your average young offender can be rehabilitated in prison, given a focus on the literacy he probably never picked up at school. But when there are massd concentrations of poor people, such as in public housing, the fringe cases, who are probably none too bright but would be able to get some form of job & a reasonably ok life if they lived in the south-east, get dragged.

    So it is in all walks of life that the silent majority must yield to the noisy minority. I don’t for a second think most Muslims are fundamentalists, but where Islam predominated the fundamentalists don’t take long to establish their rule because what most people think is irrelevant.

    You see what I said about parenting though- a child spends more time at home than at school & hat is a teacher meant to do if that is wrong? They already have one job, they don’t need another.

    Having said all that, I really hated school. I even hate driving past the place. So I never really think about education because I don’t like the thought.

    [Most of this sounds like one of my sons could have written it! - admin]

  • Karen LH

    I think that the Washington Scholarship Fund is the DC school voucher program.

    [Then let us organize to help it - admin]

  • dry valleys

    Did you send your kids to a state school then? Sorry if you said so already- it may have been before my time if you did.

    [My sons both graduated from a public ("state-run") high school, and the eldest graduated from a State University. My younger son attends a private University, thanks to a scholarship he got on the strength of his singing. -admin]

  • dry valleys

    I am always interested- I meet people who are tearing their hair out about “My Tarquin & Tamara are NOT going to Scumsville!” etc. But of course you have the religious dimension, which might mean you don’t like whatever it is that is encountered in state schools in America.

  • scmommy

    Count me in. If it was not for a scholarship, my little munchkin would be attending a Charleston county public school (SC is 49th in the nation re education), not a private catholic school.

  • Karen LH

    If something gets organized, count us in also. How much money is a voucher for a single student? Something like $7500? Seems like a single blog should be able to raise that much, even if the tax-exemption red tape isn’t worked out.

  • Susan K.

    A group of women in the Washington, D.C. area are organized and sponsor teas to raise money and awareness for programs/people who are adversely affected by the current administration’s decisions. Their latest tea benefited a local private school’s vouchers for needy students. Their first tea benefited a local crisis pregnancy center. Audacity of Tea God bless women who gather in His name to bless others in tangible ways.

  • Barbara Gamper

    I like this idea and Washington Scholarship Fund could be the vehicle. I especially like your idea of vocational ed. I’m pretty sure I don’t agree w/ Susan Faludi’s politics but she wrote an interesting book (after Backlash) that lamented the loss of apprenticeship/mentor relationships within the shipbuiding industry. Good read here

    My Dad was a non union worker (machinist/tool and die) in Lou.Ky. plant and my brother went into apprentice program there (engineer).

    The injustice done in killing the DC voucher program could be righted. I would donate.

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  • http://!!!! kelleybee

    I pledge at least $50.00 to the Anchoress Scholarship fund-or what ever it ends up being called. This is a brilliant idea. It needs to be supported.

  • Mark Camp

    My wife and I like this idea very much and would like to contribute monthly. Please publish the details about how to sign up? Thanks!

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  • invernessie

    I’m on board with this quest as well. I’d love to show the politicos the power of private fundraising, and its ability to undo the harm they inflict in support of their special interests’ demands.

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  • JAL

    I already noted to Instapundit that I would be onboard for this. Small gifts .. but many small gifts (grassroots!) and some big ones too… It could be surprising. And more than one someone’s life will be different.

    These kids need a chance at a good education.

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  • soup

    You have to admit the ‘Small Dead Animals Fund’ has a great ring to it!

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  • Trump

    The voters in DC are staunchly Democrat. The Democrats killed this voucher program.

    I couldn’t in all good conscience support this, sorry. They’ll take your money and laugh at you for giving it. I wouldn’t dream of going against the wishes of the parents who obviously wanted this program cancelled.

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