Alleged foot dragging in aid and rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina led to charges of racism, particularly aimed at the Bush administration. However, it's now two months since this tragedy hit, almost a month and a half since the president addressed the nation regarding his clean-up plans, and little federal action has been taken to help displaced kids get back into school.
Where are these voices of outrage now?
President Bush in his address in New Orleans proposed that federal education assistance be in the form of providing vouchers that families can use to place kids in any school of their choice _ public or private.
This proposal has predictably gotten bogged down in the usual Washington political morass while at least some sizeable portion of the 372,000 kids that were displaced by the hurricane are hanging in limbo.
This is a golden opportunity for the president to step up to the plate and show leadership. Clint Bolick of the Alliance for School Choice has pointed out that the president can get these education vouchers done by executive order.
The estimated price tag to provide a $7,500 voucher for each displaced kid is $2.8 billion. This is a drop in the bucket of the $62 billion that Congress has already appropriated for emergency relief. By a stroke of the pen, the president can eliminate restrictions in place and permit directing these FEMA funds for education. Why doesn't the president act? Now.
The president's approval ratings among blacks, which had tanked well before Katrina, are now about as low as you can get. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of several weeks ago showed Bush registering 2 percent approval among blacks. A Pew Research Center survey showed him at 12 percent.
The majority of blacks poll in favor of school vouchers. This support gets stronger as the focus moves toward younger black voters. In a recent survey of black voters under the age of 35, done by David A. Bositis, and commissioned by the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, 66 percent indicated support for vouchers.
Over half of these young blacks surveyed defined themselves as moderate to conservative. However, their inclination is away from party affiliation and think of themselves as independent.
Blacks have always felt like outsiders.
Politicians, of both parties, have traditionally wooed these black outsiders with promises of government programs, with political goodies.
Young blacks now are saying no thanks. We want freedom.
The same young blacks in this survey showed 80 percent support for private social security accounts.
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