As we know, the legislators in Congress are supposed to represent all of us, the Joe Averages in the streets and lanes of the nation.
Our legislators know this too – or at least they know how to give lip service to the idea. In all likelihood, it is this mentality of needing to represent the interests of the common man that led to so many senators lambasting Betsy DeVos for her interest in private school choice. After all, the true supporter of the average American would be an advocate for public education rather than elite private schooling, right?
Not exactly. In an open letter to Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Indianapolis nurse, wife, and mother of three explains what many of America’s elite ruling class fails to understand about those whom they serve:
“Sir, I have a bit of a bone to pick with you about your recent comments during the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. …
You basically took it upon yourself to condemn Indiana’s school choice program on a national stage. But I live in Indiana. I’m a mom. And I’ve exercised school choice in Indiana. And I must say, you got a lot wrong, Senator. …
Here’s what you said:
Basically what was happening is we were taking money from poor kids needing resources and giving it to middle class kids to continue going to religious school.
This statement is proof that you either do not understand school funding or made the choice to deliberately mislead the public. If, as you claim, the children are middle class children from the suburbs, then their per pupil dollars would reduce the money at their suburban schools, not the urban schools you claim are losing all the money.
And perhaps even more glaring is that you totally failed to mention that Indiana’s poor and minority children have been under-educated for decades. And for generations. This is precisely why school choice came to be in Indiana. I have two children graduating in a little over a year and when they started high school every Indianapolis Public school had a D or F rating.
Would you, Mr. Franken, put your child in a school with a D or F rating? Would you expect your friends or Senate colleagues to put their children in a school with a D or F rating?
We all know the answer, sir, because your children attended a school that costs more than $40,000 per year, a school known for educating celebrities and the children of royalty. Literally, people who wear crowns on their heads.”
Ms. Kirk goes on to explain that she would be perfectly fine with sending her own children to public schools – if they weren’t so bad. But because they are in rough shape, she insists that it is complete hypocrisy on Senator Franken’s part to say that he cares about average, hard-working, and minority families like her own, while simultaneously denying them the opportunity at a decent education like the one his own children receive:
“Sir, we need you to fix the problem, not lecture us from your high perch about how you don’t agree with us being allowed to have options.”
Does Ms. Kirk have a point? Is it an injustice to continually tell hard-working parents to be happy and content with the low-grade education the public schools offer their children, while offering them no alternatives? And if America’s ruling class sincerely wants to serve their constituents and provide them with justice, should they first have to walk a mile in their shoes and see how they like putting their own children in D or F rated schools?
Image Credit: Franken: Lorie Shaull - CC BY-SA 4.0; Kirk: Indy/Ed www.indy.education
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.