Monday, November 26, 2007

Goldwater Institute: Democrats for Education Reform

New group signals "the end of the beginning" of the anti-school choice movement

By Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.

Democrats for Education Reform is a new group that is making a big splash. On November 19, the group held an event in which U.S. Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) stressed the importance of parental choice and innovation in education. Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, supports both charter schools and tax credits for middle-class families.

At an earlier event held by the group, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) discussed "alarming dropout rates" and the dangers of a "monopoly" filled with failing schools. "We must explore options," he said. "Every option for every American child so that every child might have the high-quality education they deserve in their lifetime...We need more competition in the system."

Jackson Jr. mentioned that his parents sent him to the elite St. Albans Episcopal School in D.C. when he was a child. He said he plans on "pushing the envelope to make the majority party in this country" approach education with a more open mind.

The big tent of education reform keeps getting bigger. The relationship between progressives and education reactionaries is under obvious strain. As Churchill once said "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

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