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An ongoing discussion about conservatism in New Jersey.
Is a voucher plan the key to better results?
George Zilbergeld  (May 29, 2009, 3:13 pm)

Here and elsewhere I note a harsh tone regarding public school teachers and teacher unions. Perhaps this is a bit of a mistake.

First, the harsh tone makes it difficult to recruit public school teachers to a more conservative view. This is not a lost cause, as anyone who knows any public school teachers knows. The official magazine of public school teachers noted a while back that 40% of the readers have a more conservative view than the teachers union has. From time to time, if you are a regular reader of such reading matter – and I admit it is heavy sledding, since the writers always seem to assume we are always in the 1930s – they will even publish letters from a disgruntled teacher who is angry about the consistently liberal view of the articles.

Second, things are so bad on my campus that our union is a conservative force compared to the leftist dingbats. For example, when the left wanted to have a speech code I wrote to the president that doing this would make Joseph Stalin proud, but would be wrong in America. That remark did little, but when the union went to the President and explained that a speech code was contrary to American values and might result in bad publicity, that ended the effort to have a speech code. The same thing happened (without my remark) when the left wanted to institute a system that allowed a student to make an accusation against a professor – which the professor would have to answer for – without knowing who made the charge, the union went into action again and we still have the same rights as regular citizens.

Many union people and representatives are old fashioned liberals. If we plan to have any important changes we will need these folks to help us. I know this isn't a high level discussion but I did want to say this before I said anything else. My wife is a public school teacher and she is one of the teachers that make an important and positive difference in students' lives. I too had public school teachers who did the same for me.

I firmly believe that not allowing vouchers is immoral. I also think that is a powerful political weapon to get votes, once we get the right candidate. The heart of our discussion should be about what makes a difference for students and parents. I feel better now.