- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

The education sinkhole

I was very impressed with Deborah Simmons’ Friday Op-Ed column, “Funding vs. spending.” It should be no secret that in public education, as in many government-run programs, waste is both appalling and, for the most part, unrecognized by the general public.

In her article, she mentions President Bush’s No Child Left Behind program — something supported by Sens. John Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy so long as it equates to “funding, yes” and “vouchers, no.”

Here in California, we tried twice to pass vouchers and were unsuccessful, primarily because of the huge influence of teachers unions and the ignorance of the voters.

For example, in the first attempt to pass vouchers in the early 1990s, a little-acknowledged study was published that showed that public education had 160 times the administration of private education. There can be no justification for this, especially when private education (including home-schooling programs) continues to produce higher-performing students.

Add to this mess caused by unions and the Democratic Party the fact that taxpayers spend literally billions of dollars educating the children of illegal aliens, and it’s no wonder our educational system is falling desperately behind those of other nations.

JOHN MANCINO

Mission Viejo, Calif.

Here in Texas, the legislature passed what we call the “Robin Hood” amendment, taking money from the more wealthy school districts and giving it to less wealthy districts. We who are taxed by our state can only wait until the next lighting bolt arrives. We taxpayers are looking for something new rather than the same old cry for money.

When “Robin Hood” started several years ago, the amount extracted was about 3 percent. Today the amount is 30 percent, with no end in sight. We do have spending ceilings for our school districts, and they have been reached for this school funding, or so we have been told.

Perhaps we could have the entire system changed to reflect our future needs. We have had the same old system of multiple school districts across the state. This still exists because of the cry, “We want local control of our schools,” but how many people can even name one person on the school board or know the name of his or her superintendent? I suspect not many. It is an indication that only a small percentage of the public is involved in school affairs.

If we transfer the control and responsibility of the schools to the state, we would have people we elect (state senators and state representatives) providing money for schools everywhere in the state. Our taxes would go directly to the state capital, making sure that every student receives the same quality education.

The column mentioned that some federal school funds are sitting unspent by states. With the states completely in charge of education, it soon would be apparent why it is unspent and where the bottleneck is located in the state capital.

We can’t continue with this regional education system that very few people understand and even fewer know where the federal and state “Robin Hood” money goes.

PHILIP JENNINGS

Plano, Texas

What’s in a name?

I appreciate the mention in Inside the Beltway (“Tweedledee,” yesterday), but what I said needs a little context, please, lest my statement be construed as mere name-calling, which it is not. John McCaslin quoted me as saying, “We’ll probably be on more stateballotsthanRalph Nader.” He then mentioned my nickname for President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominees as “Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.”

In my statement, I commented on Mr. Bush’s addressing the nation’s governors and raising the specter of his Democratic opponents canceling tax cuts and using the money “to expand the federal government.” Noting that Mr. Bush, evidently, is running for re-election as if he has neverbeenpresident,I pointed out that he, of course, has given us the biggest, most debt-ridden federal government in history.

That’s the context in which I said that when it comes to the big-government issue, there are no real differences between the Republicans and the Democrats, that they are Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.

MICHAEL A. PEROUTKA

Presidential candidate

Constitution Party

Pasadena, Md.

An argument of convenience

Presidential candidate John Edwards tells us that homosexual “marriage” “is an issue that ought to be decided in the states” (“Edwards backs state rights in homosexual ‘marriage,’ ” Nation, Friday). Then conservative homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan writes that President Bush’s endorsement of a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual “marriage” “is a truly radical attack on the rights of states”(“Bush vs. federalism,” The Weekly Dish, Friday).

A wonderful thing, this “states’ rights.” Would Mr. Edwards and Mr. Sullivan allow the abortion issue to be so decided?

Regardless, nowhere in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence is there any reference to “states’ rights.” Rights are mentioned only in the context of individuals, never states. Instead, governments are granted limited powers “by the consent of the governed.”

The simple fact is that the “governed” resent the imposition of homosexual “marriage” by extraconstitutional (and anti-democratic) judicial fiat instead of through the legislative process. The proponents of “states’ rights” know full well that all they have to do is find some federal judge somewhere to invoke the “full faith and credit” clause of Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution, and homosexual “marriage” becomes the law of the land in every state if any state allows it.

So, if marriage is not “the union of one man with one woman,” what is it? Who decides? On what basis? Either Congress has to use its powers under Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution to remove this issue from review by the federal judiciary or the Constitution will have to be amended to settle the issue. The alternative is anarchy.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington, Md.

Follow the money

I agree with John Kerry in his speech on national security that President Bush has done a poor job of protecting and securing America since September 11, but that is as far as I can agree with the senator (“Kerry attacks Bush as weak on defense,” Page 1, Saturday). After all, how different will a Kerry national security policy be when he has former Bush adviser Rand Beers advising him on international narcotics and law enforcement? The biggest threat we face from terrorism is that the drug war’s $500-billion-a-year worldwide prohibition black market is making available funds for terrorist organizations.

Mr. Beers advocates escalating the status quo of this failed international drug policy regardless of the collateral damage of rich terrorists, silent jihads and the promise of more September 11s. We could control the terrorist-funding anarchy spawned by the narcotics black market, but Democrats and Republicans just say no.

PAT ROGERS

Allentown, Pa.

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