by Edd Doerr
On June 28, for the umpteenth time in the last couple of years, the Washington Post ran another editorial touting the school voucher plan foisted on the District of Columbia by George W. Bush and a Republican congress a decade ago, the plan, you know, that forces all taxpayers in the US to contribute involuntarily to the support of religious private schools in the District. The Post seems to have forgotten where it stood on this in its March 3. 1971, editorial:
"Americans have every right, of course, to seek for their children a religiously oriented education and to send their children to private schools which provide the sort of religious orientation they want. But they have no more right to ask the general public to pay for such schools -- and for the religious instruction they provide -- than to ask the general public to pay for the churches in which, happily, they are free to gather for prayer and for worship as they please."
The Post was right in 1971 and wrong now. The Post's editors seem to have forgotten that DC voters in 1981 rejected a similar voucher plan by the superlandslide margin of 89% to 11%; that DC's elected congressional delegate has opposed vouchers; that tens of millions of voters from coast to coast have rejected vouchers or their variants by an average margin of two to one in over two dozen statewide referenda; that vouchers are essentially a Republican device to undermine public education and teacher unions, and to cater to the religious right; that widespread imposition of vouchers or tax-code vouchers would inevitably fragment our school population along religious, ideological, class, ethnic and other lines while wrecking the teaching profession and undermining the teaching of science and civics; that widespread implementation of voucher plans would drive up educational costs and further clog our streets with large yellow gas guzzlers.
Vouchers are a growing political problem -- in Congress, in states where GOP governors and legislatures are pushing vouchers (Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Arizona, etc), and in the upcoming election races.
Readers MUST become active in opposing vouchers. Write your members of Congress. Write the Washington Post and urge it to return to its 1971 position. Write letters to editors and post comments on blogs. Support organizations that fight to save public education and church-state separation (such as Americans for Religious Liberty, ACLU, PFAW, etc.)
(FYI, the 1971 Post quote is from the book Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, edited by Al Menendez and myself, and available from me for $10 at Box 6656, Silver Spring, MD 20916.)