Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The definition of insanity

The Kansas City Star, while reporting on a local State Representative race, noted that campaign material attacked Curt Dougherty of Independence for “voting for vouchers.” Vouchers, as Dougherty notes, are prohibited by the state’s Blaine Amendment, so he couldn’t have voted for a voucher.

This is not just an attack on a particular candidate’s position: it’s just one front in the war against improvement in education. The state of education from urban to rural communities is so dire that not taking reform measures is an attack. It is, in my opinion, ethically equal to doing nothing while a child drowns. We have children who every year are damned to poverty, unable to secure jobs or a college path, and often turn to crime. Many statistics document higher incarceration rates for non-high school graduates. The scope of this problem defines us when we refuse to take measures to give less fortunate children the basic means to pursue their own American Dream, and it damns us in turn when we let the bureaucracy of education dictate what we can and can’t do to help all children get—at the very least—an accredited education.

“That has nothing to do with education money,” Dougherty said, adding that the state has approved tax credits for a wide variety of initiatives, such as automobile assembly and historic preservation.

“These people try to villainize someone with a word, such as ‘vouchers.’”

We can do it for cars, but not kids? When are we going to get over the irrational fears we’ve been fed about education reform and start trying alternatives like scholarship tax credits to see if they can work here like they work in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona and many other states? They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results. By that measure, we’re insane NOT to try a tax credit program for education.

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