Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Updated August 11, 2004 at 1:30 pm

VINTAGE FINE LINES: From Eric Zorn's notebook and from Jeff Berkowitz- Point/Counterpoint

Now here is a difference [school vouchers/school choice] between U. S. Senate Candidates Barack Obama and Alan Keyes that the mainstream media might want to discuss. Now, I know this is not quite as sexy as how Keyes pronounces Barack or what Barack thinks of senate candidates from out of state, but still-- could be of interest to voters. Possibly, that is.

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist and blogger, who is very good at both endeavors, in his blog entry of August 10, 2004 [] couldn’t resist, no doubt, needling me and school voucher supporters everywhere by including what he labels as--

(Public school vouchers are) an idea that suburban Republicans will champion until the first inner-city students show up at suburban public and private schools with their vouchers, demanding admission
Lars-Erik Nelson, New York Daily News, February, 1998

--But, in response to those fine lines, I would say—

Some, but certainly not all aspects of the above could be true (and I am not conceding even the “some”) and yet that would not be as damning to the suburbanites as Lars-Eric Nelson implies. However, I will leave that discussion for another day. Instead, time constraints being what they are, I offer a competing set of vintage fine lines.


“Opposition to school vouchers, school choice [that is, a program to give each student in a public school his pro-rata share of the tax dollars that are currently being spent on his education, about $11,500 per kid per year in the Chicago Public Schools, to spend at the private or public school of his choice] is a position that almost all Democratic [and many Republican] office holders and voting block leaders will champion until the first such office holder or leader is told that he cannot opt out of the Public Schools located where he lives and from which he is preventing children of low income minority parents from exiting by his opposition to school vouchers/school choice.”

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs.”

A very partial list of a few such public office holders or voting block leaders who each have benefited from such hypocrisy by receiving a private elementary or secondary education or sending his kids to same and still opposing school vouchers/school choice for his constituents, includes, for purposes of illustration, the following:

--Rev. Jesse Jackson, avoiding the “admittedly intolerable, as Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama would put it,” public schools of DC or Chicago, by sending now Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the elite St. Albans private school in DC.

--Senator Al Gore, Sr., avoiding the intolerable DC public schools, by sending his son, former VP Al Gore, to the elite St. Albans private school in DC.

--Speaker of the Illinois House Mike Madigan, avoiding the intolerable public schools of Chicago, by sending now Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the elite Latin School private school in Chicago.

--Governor Rod Blagojevich, avoiding the intolerable public schools of Chicago, by sending his daughter to a private school in Chicago.

--Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama, avoiding the intolerable public schools of Chicago, by sending his daughter to an elite private school in Chicago.

--President Bill Clinton and now Senator Hillary Clinton, avoiding the intolerable DC public schools, by sending their daughter Chelsea to an elite private school.

I am sure that a few Republicans qualify for the above listing, but none come to mind. However, if someone has such information, please forward to me so my next list can be more bi-partisan.

Now, I do know of one Republican member of the Illinois State Board of Education and former Chairman of same [indeed, it might now be former State Board of Education member due to the Blago ax], Ron Gidwitz, who also sends his kids to elite private schools. However, no hypocrisy there-- as Mr. Gidwidz very publicly came out for school vouchers/school choice on that widely watched show, “Public Affairs.”

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at