Eleanor Holmes Norton – D.C.Teacher Union`s Pit Bull


Eleanor Holmes Norton is stark raving mad. The
congressional delegate from the District of Columbia
accused her fellow Democrat, D.C. Mayor Anthony
Williams, of “selling out” last week because he
supports a Bush administration-backed school choice
proposal that would free thousands of poor black
students from rotten public schools.

The
D.C. School Choice Act,
sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake
(R-Ariz.), would

provide
$45 million over five years for means-tested
educational scholarships for up to 8,300 students in the
beleaguered D.C. public school system. President Bush
has earmarked a total of $75 million for similar
programs across the country.

Mayor Williams, who initially opposed the plan, now
believes that it`s time to challenge the failed public
school monopoly.

"We`ve got a model we`ve been using for 140
years,"
he said in an article buried in last
Saturday`s Metro section of the Washington Post.
"I think it`s time to try something else." [Williams
Sheds Light On Vouchers Stance
, by Craig Timberg,
Washington Post
, May 2 ,2003,]

Williams` change of heart is nothing less than
historic. The black Democrat mayor of a predominantly
Democrat city has bucked not only his party, but also
the

corrupt local teachers` union
—which endorsed him in
2002 and to which he had provided plum appointments and
delivered two consecutive 18 percent teacher pay raises.
(As I noted

last week
, the union`s top leaders are

mired
in an embezzlement and money-laundering
scandal.)

The irony of Eleanor Holmes Norton—who has long been
bought and paid for by the teachers` union
establishment—calling the mayor a sellout is
breath-taking.

It is Norton and her ilk who have repeatedly sold out
D.C. parents and schoolchildren to defend the
indefensible. The dropout rate in the D.C. public
schools is 40 percent. A report released by the
Washington, D.C.-based
Cato Institute
last fall showed that 36 percent of
D.C. public school students scored "below basic" in
mathematics on the Stanford 9 achievement test in 2001.
In reading, 25 percent scored "below basic."

The public school monopolists say a lack of resources
is to blame. Yet, city school spending since 1998 has
skyrocketed 41 percent while SAT scores remain
rock-bottom. The D.C. public schools spend a whopping
$13,000 per pupil (compared to a $7,500 average
nationwide).

Norton has disguised her opposition to school choice
behind the rhetorical cloak of “home rule.” (Choosing to
abort one`s children is a sacred right, you see. But
allowing parents to choose the best schools is a threat
to democracy.) Norton complains that a completely
voluntary pilot program offering educational
scholarships to poor students and parents in D.C.
threatens the district`s right of self-governance.

The liberal Washington Post dismissed such
hysterics as nonsense in a recent

editorial
: “[A]ny suggestion that a federally
funded voucher pilot program is being imposed on the
District by the federal government is false. Nor is the
program designed to supplant federal funding already
available to D.C. public schools and public charter
schools.”

What Norton and the

unions
most fear is the right of educational
self-governance by parents. More and more families are
trying to escape the public school prison by any means
necessary.

The non-profit Washington Scholarship Fund offers
private vouchers to nearly 1,200 D.C.-area students.
Demand is overwhelming.

Homeschooling by black parents
is on the rise. Polls
show that increasing numbers of black Americans,
especially those younger than 35, favor school choice.

Mayor Williams, who attended Catholic schools in the
district, is not alone among black Democrat politicians
in supporting the pilot voucher program.

D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, who represents a
predominantly black ward, is also a product of Catholic
schools, and

sends his son
to a Catholic school, also backs the
plan. “The really big problem with public education
has been its unwillingness to look at itself and
change,"
Chavous noted last week. "No school
bureaucracy will reform itself internally. It only comes
through pressure. And the most effective form of
pressure is choice."

Former D.C. council chairman Sterling Tucker agrees.
"There`s no question in my mind how the people feel.
People want to get their children the best.”
Choice
through vouchers is “the key that unlocks them out of
the ghetto."

Twirling her nightstick and wielding brass knuckles,
Eleanor Holmes Norton refuses to let her people go.

Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores
.
Click

here
for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click

here
for Michelle Malkin`s website.

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