September 18, 2005

Good trick, it looks like...

I've been too busy to blog about what seems to me the most interesting debate happening right now. That's the debate among conservatives who like or dislike the President's response to Hurricane Katrina. It's a miniature version of all our recent debates, because the President is missing chances to promote traditional conservative virtues, but is also slanting his remedies towards "Ownership Society" measures. A painful lot of federal spending, but often in ways that give people choice, rather than simply taking care of them. (There is no interesting debate coming from liberals, just the reenactment of tired rituals.)

Here's an example, from the NYT: (Thanks to JustOneMinute)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 - The Department of Education announced a plan today to pay 90 percent of the educational costs of students and schools affected by Hurricane Katrina for one year.

But the plan, which seeks $2.6 billion in new hurricane relief spending, came under immediate attack from Democrats and officials of the nation's two largest teachers' unions, who asserted that a major component - payments to families with children in private schools - amounted to a national voucher program.

The department proposed that the bulk of the spending, $1.9 billion, be used to pay states and school districts for absorbing children from the affected areas into their public schools. An additional $227 million would be dedicated to displaced adults with outstanding student loans and to colleges and universities that have taken in students from the storm areas....

The details are not clear, but it rather looks like large numbers of families are going to get school vouchers for a while. That will be, ummm, shall we say, an educational experience? They are going to be dropped into Anytown, USA, with the ability to look around at the local elementary and high schools, and CHOOSE. And with $7,500 per student going to whoever gets CHOSEN, why, a lot of those schools, especially public schools, will look at those students in a new way.

It's not surprising the Senator Kennedy and the vile corrupt teacher's unions are howling. The disaster spending can be a weapon, and Bush is wielding it.

I put a bit more of the NYT article below...

..."The federal government is doing something it has never done before," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told reporters, referring to a tenfold increase in federal per-student spending. "Our 9 percent investment is going to 90 percent. That's my big news."

The budget request also includes $488 million to compensate families with children in private schools, which critics said represented an effort by the Bush administration to initiate a favorite approach to school choice, the use of vouchers.

Over all, more than 372,000 schoolchildren were displaced by the storm and are now enrolled in schools as far from the Gulf Coast as California and New England. The total includes about 61,000 who attended private schools in Louisiana, 50,000 of them in Roman Catholic schools.

Under the plan, children in public and private schools would be regarded equally for aid purposes, with a spending cap of $7,500 per student.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, the ranking member of the Senate education committee, said in a statement that he applauded President Bush's efforts to serve the educational needs of displaced children. "But I am extremely disappointed that he has proposed providing this relief using such a politically charged approach," Mr. Kennedy added. "This is not the time for a partisan debate on vouchers."...
Posted by John Weidner at September 18, 2005 9:01 AM
Weblog by John Weidner