- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Christine Suma's children went back to Our Lady of Good Counsel Grade School in Cleveland yesterday on the good faith that they would be able to finish the year there. The right of Cleveland's 4,000 students on vouchers to an education in a safe and fit environment continues to be challenged by the teachers' unions. President Bush has personally pushed for the Supreme Court to take up the voucher case, and has argued that such a program does not violate the Constitution with regards to the establishment of religion.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will even hear the case, which will serve as a voucher test case for many other school choice programs pending around the nation. The court is expected to decide by Oct. 1. In December, the Ohio Pilot Scholarship Program, which provides Cleveland students in failing schools with $2,500 each to go to another school of their choice, was ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Similarly, in 1999, in a U.S. District Court decision made just hours before the first day of school, Clinton-appointed Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. ruled that the program was unconstitutional.

A temporary arrangement allows the Cleveland children to return to use the vouchers this year. However, if the Supreme Court allows the 6th Circuit's decision to stand, the children will be required to return to Cleveland's failing public school system. "It all so much depends upon the Supreme Court decision," Christine Suma said in an interview yesterday. "I would like to do my job, which is the nurturing part, and not have to be thinking about all these upcoming court cases. I just want to be here and be a mom," she said. As well she should.

Unfortunately, the National Education Association, the 2.6 million-member teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Civil Liberties Union have different plans. Rosalinda Demore, the facilitator for Cleveland Parents for School Choice, had a few choice words for the unions trying to keep mostly minority, poor children from having the same opportunity their own children had. "You have people going out working every day, yet they're living at the poverty level," she said. "What you're saying to those parents is: 'You poor, stay in your place. You should not be sending your child to a private school because you can't afford it. Your child should not have that option.' "

A child's education should not be wasted while political battles are fought. The cost cannot be calculated for every year the teachers' unions deprive a poor child of learning to read and write.

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