The Racial Factor in the Voucher Controversy

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

What say you, Tom Cruise? That story coming up shortly. But first, the Talking Points Memo.

The racial factor in the school voucher controversy. As you know, the Supreme Court has ruled five to four that the federal government can send money to poor American families in the form of vouchers for private schooling. The reasoning is that parents receiving the vouchers will have the freedom to send their kids to any private school, not just religious ones.

The four justices who voted against the vouchers are basically liberals, and it is the left that is screaming long and loud about the vouchers. How interesting. You would think that Americans who generally support government subsidies to help the poor would want poor children to get the best education possible.

And there is no doubt that private schools teach better than public schools. In fact, a major opponent of vouchers, Al Gore, sent his kids to private schools.

But millions of poor American parents can't afford to do what Al Gore did, so the Bush administration's trying to help them. Is that not a good thing?

Put yourself in a tenement apartment in Harlem, New York, where Congressman Charles Rangel lives and works. You work hard but you don't have much education. You want your three children to go to college, to get out of the tenement. But the local public school has failing grades on all the standardized tests, and there's little discipline in that school.

Five blocks away, however, is a private school where most of the kids get into college. The feds want to send you more than $2,000 to help you pay that private school tuition for each child you have. But Congressman Rangel opposes that, and so does the teachers' union that staffs the failing public school.

Recent surveys show that about 60 percent of black Americans support the voucher program, yet there is still ferocious opposition to it. The reason is racist, in my opinion. Many Americans believe that the poor should not be able to have options, that they should be locked into government-run enterprises like the public school system.

Taking the poor out of that arena diminishes the power of the government and gives the private sector more influence. So it's not about the kids, it's about power for the opponents of vouchers.

The federal and state governments have had two decades to fix the public schools. That has not happened. Blame anyone you want. But millions of American kids have been ill educated in public classrooms. The same is not true in private schools. Vouchers are a noble, good thing that will put pressure on the public school system to get better.

Hard-working poor Americans deserve as many options as the government can give them. Nobody forces anybody to take a voucher. It's all about freedom of choice. And freedom to learn in a safe, disciplined environment.

That's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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