- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A D.C. lawmaker and staunch statehood supporter has some choice words for former Sen. Rick Santorum, the socially conservative Republican whose name does not appear on next month’s Republican presidential primary ballot in the District.

In a copy of the draft letter obtained by The Washington Times, at-large D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown flipped the script on Mr. Santorum, who while campaigning for president in Puerto Rico last week said a precondition for the commonwealth island’s statehood wishes would be that “English has to be the principal language.”

Mr. Brown seeks clarification on Mr. Santorum’s current position on D.C. statehood, cogently makes a logical leap for full voting representation and urges him to join the fight to make the District the 51st state in his letter to the presidential wannabe.

“Recently, you stated that Puerto Rico should adopt English as its official language before achieving statehood,” Mr. Brown wrote. “For many, this was an indication that if this requirement was fulfilled, you would support Puerto Rico’s admittance as the 51st state. Because, I find it unlikely that this question will be proposed during one of the nationally televised debates, I am writing to understand your position on voting rights and statehood for over 620,000 American citizens who reside in the District of Columbia.”



The letter, expected to land Monday in Mr. Santorum’s snail mail and email boxes, continued: “I know that you have voted against legislation that would have supported the admittance of the District as the 51st state. However, I believe that you and your party support the right of Americans to run certain aspects of their lives without government intrusion or interference. … I invite you to join us in our fight for equality. I encourage you to stand up for Americans who pay the highest federal tax rates in the country, whose sons and daughters have fought and died in every major conflict since the War of Independence and is home to over 40,000 veterans, whose population is nearly equal with five other states and greater than Wyoming by making it clear that if elected president, you will use all the powers of the executive office to promote statehood for Americans who reside in the District of Columbia.”

Mr. Brown, an independent whose heart and mind is comfortably nestled in the Democratic Party, and other D.C. voters and statehood supporters are free to express their opinions on Mr. Santorum’s stance, too — just not so much in the April 3 D.C. primaries.

The Santorum campaign failed all three requirements to get on the ballot: It failed to pay the requisite filing fees, failed to gather and submit signatures from registered Republicans and failed to file a list of pledged delegates.

It seems Mr. Santorum, who still needs all the delegates he can get if he wants to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, is snubbing (or perhaps dubbing) the nation’s capital as the Rodney Dangerfield of politics.

English, Hebrew and Arabic together

As public school officials drum their thumbs on the school-closing table, authorities with the D.C. Public Charter School Board are scheduled to open their eyes and ears to golden opportunities for youngsters in the charter-school application process.

Several charters want to open their doors next school year, and all are worthy of attention as the demand and need for innovative charters grow by leaps and bounds.

On Tuesday, for example, the board’s schedule includes a pitch from a Montessori school, and on Monday, two foreign-language schools get an airing.

The three schools do not fit neatly inside the traditional public-school box, nor should they.

Sela, the name of the proposed Hebrew-language school, gets two thumbs up because such a unique school in the nation’s capital would provide an opportunity to bridge not only the great academic divide between poor D.C. youths and their better-off counterparts, but also build a spanking new cultural one.

How many underserved youths learn a language other than English in traditional schools?

How many poor youths are afforded virtual visits to other lands?

How many youths are immersed in a foreign language and its culture, including those that have strong Judeo-Christian ties, which teach the difference between right and wrong, and indifference?

If we want all our children truly to become global citizens, they must learn to speak, read and write in another language. The best time to do that is as young an age as possible, and the best place to start is here and now.

All you naysayers who fear these public schools will start instilling our precious grade-schoolers with religious doctrine, get over it.

I’ll be among the first in line to yell “pull the charter” if that indeed becomes the case.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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