The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Being Pro-Choice

Last week, HB 2314, which would have given tax credits to businesses that offered scholarships to underprivileged or disadvantaged children to attend non-public schools, died in a Virginia Senate committee.  Three of the members of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus-Sen. Henry Marsh (D-Richmond), Sen. Yvonne Miller (D-Norfolk), and Sen Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)-voted against the legislation. Why? Here’s what Sen. Marsh said:

“It’s unfortunate that these children are being used by persons who want to undermine the public schools,” Marsh said. “These young people, when they get older, they will understand that public education is the answer.”

It’s worth noting that each of these candidates has received campaign donations from the Virginia Education Association, one of the larger organizations that opposed this legislation.

There are some people for whom, even with the opportunities in this now-dead legislation, public schools are the only option. And that’s fine; we have a responsibility to those students, and their parents, to provide them with the best possible education. But when a program like this comes along-where we offer incentives for businesses to give children opportunities for something better-shouldn’t we want that for them? Shouldn’t we as parents-or even we as adults, with or without kids-want our children to have better than we did?

Opponents of school choice initiatives such as this say that they’re a way to re-institute segregation; that if we can’t help all children, we shouldn’t help any. Think about that for a second, and then think about it in the context of our natural, God-given rights-to live, live freely, and to make those decisions that would make us happy. Preventing parents to make the best educational choices for their children flies in the face of all three of those rights.

Even among public schools, the empowerment that could arise from allowing parents to choose the best for their kids would do a lot to improve our educational system. We’ve heard the story of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother who lied about her residence to get her kids into a better school district. But what if she didn’t have to resort to that? What if Kelley-and the countless other parents whose similar actions don’t make the nightly news-could look at all the public schools in their district, and send their kids to the best of those without having to worry about “school zones?” Let the young single mother in Calvert Square have the ability to send her child to the best of our public schools in Norfolk, if those schools are truly the only option she has. If she can exercise the choice of whether to have her child or abort it, should she not also have the choice to present her child with the best education available?

Contrary to the words of its detractors, school choice programs and initiatives are not the second coming of Massive Resistance. What they present is a viable method for parents to ensure that their kids have the resources and environment necessary to learn at their best. Embracing that concept shouldn’t require partisanship…just a willingness to do the right thing.

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Written by Coby Dillard

February 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

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