For blacks, school vouchers are a no brainer. The black community has gotten the message that getting its children educated is the central challenge to moving up the economic ladder.
Recently, Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute and the University of Maryland, provided testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, titled "The Economic Stagnation of the Black Middle Class." Besharov's message: "...the main proximate cause of the lack of economic progress among African Americans is the continuing difference in educational attainment between blacks and whites."
Blacks support any innovative ideas that will open the spectrum of opportunities that will get their children educated. Vouchers are clearly one such important innovation.
When Bush proposed vouchers as the most efficient means to quickly get displaced kids back into school, Reg Weaver, the president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, immediately came out in opposition. "We are not supporting that, and that is a big not. It's a voucher bill."
Note that Weaver did not challenge the premise that vouchers would efficiently get kids into school. His opposition is to choice and giving up power of the public school monopoly.
Why are the same voices that called Bush "racist" for allegedly foot dragging in New Orleans not calling Weaver "racist" for opposing an efficient mechanism for getting displaced black kids into schools?
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is supporting a cumbersome measure that would allow reimbursement of cost to all schools, public or private, but only through the public school apparatus. John Boehner of Ohio and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have a far better approach, allowing parents to sign up online, through a toll free number, or at school, to get the funds to send their kids wherever they want.
However, it seems to me that the great political opportunity for Bush, with blacks and with the nation, is to show real leadership and cut through all this delay by releasing these funds for vouchers by executive order.