Originally created 11/07/97

A blow to education



When U.S. Senate opponents blocked a vote on a Big Media-driven campaign finance reform bill, designed to strangle free political speech, many pundits were full of indignation about the lack of "fairness" and "majority rule" in the upper chamber.

Well, where are those voices now that the "A-plus Education Savings Account" bill by Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., has been shot down by the same "minority rules" tactic?

The Georgian had enough bipartisan support to pass the bill, but fell four votes short of the 60 needed to allow a vote. In effect, Coverdell's bill -- allowing public school parents to save tax-free money to spend on education expenses -- was killed for the year and probably the session.

The National Education Association, the teachers' union that is the backbone of the Democratic Party's left wing, lied about the measure. The NEA said it would take money from the public school system -- and it was echoed by President Clinton who threatened a veto.

But to set the record straight, the Coverdell bill was not anti-public schools. It simply gave public school parents the same right to spend their education savings as college parents have.

Yes, some of them might use the tax-free benefit to send their kids to private schools, but they could also use it for tutoring, home computers or other education-related expenses that would improve their kids' performance in public schools.

Aren't school bureaucrats always saying they want parents more involved in their children's education? Coverdell's bill would have encouraged just that.

The notion -- propounded by the NEA -- that allowing parents to spend more of their own money on their kids' educational needs somehow damages public schools is utterly ridiculous. What it really damages is the educational establishment's iron grip on the failing public school system. Parents' input is fine, as long as they can't make decisions about their kids' education.

It's a shame this constructive legislation was killed, especially after it passed the House.