Silly Little Me, Making a Big Deal Out of Those Poor D.C. Kids & Their Vouchers

Update: It looks like I have been out-sillied by Jay Greene, who has posted the original unedited draft of “too cool” Kevin Carey’s comments.

I’m not very serious. Of course, you probably already knew that. Golly, I’m a little kid who writes about the world of education policy and occasionally cites Kermit the Frog and Cap’n Crunch.

But I don’t think you quite get how un-serious I am. At least according to Kevin Carey from The Quick and The Ed blog:

Yet the DC voucher debate is playing out on national television and has provoked a seemingly endless series of righteous editorials from the Washington Post. This seems to be the real purpose of school vouchers–giving people the opportunity to scramble for the moral high ground of defending disadvantaged youth. Many wealthy members of Congress send their children to private school! So does our wealthy President! Outrage! Hypocrisy revealed! Meanwhile, voucher opponents paint themselves as brave defenders of the education system, as if this was some crucial battle against the Wal-Martification of public schools.

In that sense vouchers do have some utility–they separate people who are serious about education policy from people who aren’t. The more you shout and carry on about them, the less you’re paying attention to the issues that really matter. [emphasis added]

Like President Obama, Mr. Carey seems to want this issue to just go away. It’s hard to understand why the fact that vouchers aren’t going away can be so disturbing to someone who makes such a strong case for charters — when the same evidence and rationale support both policies.

To his credit, Mr. Carey does make an admission:

One could argue, I suppose, that if vouchers had been given to 17,000 students instead of 1,700, they would have had more impact. But I’m not so sure–I kind of doubt that Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day would up and build annexes in Anacostia in response. In any event, why bother? DC charter schools are directly accountable to the public and specifically designed to serve urban students. Why would it be better to re-direct public funds to schools that are neither of those things?

I know it’s a rhetorical question, but let me respond anyway. More choice, more types of options, and more competition are all good for the consumer (i.e., parents and students). Limiting choice and competition are not good for them.

Whoops, there I go again! Just being un-serious … In fact, incredibly silly! Maybe that “magical money tree” could help fund a Ministry of Silly Walks for people like me who just can’t help making a big deal out of the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Other silly people? U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who has arranged for witnesses to testify tomorrow before his committee. Among those set to testify are the highly un-serious: research leader Dr. Patrick Wolf, former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, and voucher students and parents.

How silly can it get?