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12/14/2009

Maggie's school exploitations: Now with more race wars!!

by Jeremy Hooper

Maggie-GallagherAs D.C. gears up to approve marriage equality, Maggie Gallagher is again hauling out the race cards that we've seen her play so many times before. This from the far-right One News Now:

NOM president Maggie Gallagher said Councilmember Tommy Wells even wrote to Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) urging him to work to block educational vouchers for poor children in the District.

"He argued that the D.C. voucher program, which funds scholarships for several thousand of the poorest black children so they're not at the mercy of the public school system -- that this voucher program be killed specifically because the Catholic schools not be eligible to receive this voucher because Catholic schools are not going to provide benefits to same-sex civil unions," states Gallagher.

'Anti-religious bigotry' in nation's capital [ONN]

Okay, first off: The letter in question did not come solely from Councilmember Wells. The other person who joined him on the letter? District of wells-raymondColumbia Board of Education member Lisa Raymond, who also serves as the current board president. She knows a thing or two about education.

But beyond that: The letter was not "specifically" about the church discrimination issue. In fact, most of the letter's ink is dedicated to the larger, more sweeping issue of underperforming schools. Here's a snippet:

[D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP)] provides vouchers for students to attend some schools that are seriously deficient. Specifically, these schools were not accredited or even in the process of becoming accredited, and employed teachers who had not graduated from college. According to a report by the General Accountability Office, these schools:

"Did not meet basic requirements to operate in the District. For example, a few had no certificate of occupancy on file with the District or had certificates that did not specify educational use."

We acknowledge that some of our publicly funded voucher students attend high-performing private schools. A small minority attend Sidwell Friends, St. Albans, and John Carroll High School. However, too many attend schools with fewer resources and lower standards than those of our public schools.

Furthermore, research has not shown significant improvement among voucher students or sufficient achievement gains over their peers that would justify the program. Rather, the latest research shows that academically disadvantaged voucher students--those from schools designated "in need of improvement" or with test scores among the lowest one-third of applicants--failed to demonstrate improved performance in private school over their public school peers.

But of course Maggie neglects to mention this little tidbit, focusing only on that which she can more easily use to her advantage. How typical.

Then there's perhaps the most disgusting tactic: Maggie's obvious exploitation of race. As already mentioned, the bulk of the letter has to do with educational institutions that are underserving students who'd likely fare better in public schooling. This particular point doesn't speak specifically to "the poorest black children": It speaks to any student who is getting a lessened education in unaccredited, unprepared schools. Sure, this includes many African-American students, as D.C. has a very large black population. But outside of tactical exploitation of race, there is simply no reason for Maggie to single out black children in this way. Just like there was no reason for Maggie to single out "white liberal Jerry Brown" in the aftermath of the Prop 8 debacle, and no reason for NOM to change the voices (and sometimes names) in some of its radio spots.

And even if it were about African-American kids who were being specifically addresses: THE MATTER AT HAND IS ONE OF SUBPAR SCHOOLING! Regardless of the race of the child, shouldn't EVERY adult care about providing the kid with the highest quality of education possible?!?! And what's with saying that these children are "at the mercy of the public school system"? When, exactly, did the public school system become the enemy?!?

The bottom line: Maggie is straight up lying and exploiting, yet again. Yes, the Catholic Church's desire to both discriminate and collect public funding is a major issue, and it gets its proper due in the Wells/Raymond letter:

In addition, as the Archdiocese of Washington, which operates Catholic schools in the District, made clear at recent hearings on legislation to enact marriage equality for same sex couples, they will not and currently do not recognize same sex couples or provide employee benefits for same sex spouses. It is their clearly espoused doctrine and practice to treat gay and lesbian employees differently from heterosexual employees. It is unclear if and how the doctrine is communicated to students. We oppose using public funds to support discriminatory practices in our city.

But even those who fail to support marriage equality should easily see that the Wells/Raymond letter raises many other matters of concern. Concerns that know no color, despite Maggie's desperation to turn populations against each other for the cause of bigotry.

For shame, Ms. Srivastav. Seriously: For shame!

**The letter: Wells & Raymond Address Letter Opposing School Vouchers to Senator Durbin [TommyWells.org]

**NOM's earlier, equally fallacious usage of this letter: Enough is enough: NOM is a lying Catholic front group that lies like lying liars [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

The company that I work for did the research on this study. Our findind was:

"No evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered an OSP scholarship and students who were not offered a scholarship."

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20074009/

Posted by: Bob Barnes | Dec 14, 2009 9:27:21 AM

Thanks for sharing that, Bob.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 14, 2009 9:30:24 AM

But, but, DC should TOTALLY pay money to send kids to schools who's official position is that racemixers are sick, evil people who don't deserve equal rights!

Maggie says its unfair not to!

Posted by: wackadoodle | Dec 14, 2009 12:35:54 PM

"No evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered an OSP scholarship and students who were not offered a scholarship."

From the study that you mentioned Bob, there appears to be no evidence that the scholarship program was in any way beneficial. I didn't read the study, but one might presume that eliminating the private schools that are unaccredited and/or those which are not hiring credentialed instructors, might improve the outcome. In other words, the worst of this bunch of educational alternatives might be dragging the best of them down.

If the data doesn't support that theory, then perhaps the entire idea that vouchers will improve the outcome of grade school children's education is fallacious. And, if this program effectively decreased the amount of funding available to the public schools, that flawed thesis and the detrimental effect on public school funding are certainly reason enough to defund the ineffective voucher system.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Dec 14, 2009 11:51:38 PM

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