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Can School Choice Shake Up the PA Democratic Primary?

Posted By Calvin Freiburger On April 12, 2010 @ 4:37 pm In NewsReal Blog | No Comments

Pennsylvania’s Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett polls favorably in the state’s gubernatorial race, but “the percentage of undecideds are almost the same as Corbett’s level of support,” and there’s another hat in the ring who could gain the confidence of those uncommitted voters: Anthony Hardy Williams.

Williams has been garnering attention from conservatives, including former Sen. Rick Santorum, for his strong advocacy of school choice.  Yawn…just another racist right-winger who doesn’t care about educa-

What’s that?  You say he’s a Democratic state senator?  And that he’s black?  Um, never mind, then.

Williams claims to follow an independent, “people-centered approach” to politics that dictates simply using “the best ideas,” regardless of what party comes up with them.  And unlike another post-partisan uniter I could mention, his worldview defies straightforward political categorization—he’s pro-choice, believes the gender gap exists, and would like stricter campaign-finance restrictions in his state, but he also rails against irresponsible “tax-and-spend” waste and believes that:

Parents should be able to direct their tax dollars to the program that makes sense for their families. They should have a choice, just as they do when they send their child to college.

As governor, Tony would introduce measures to direct funding back to parents so that they can apply their tax dollars to the school setting that works best. Introducing that level of competition will increase quality across the board and decrease overall spending, diverting funds from costly systems to well-run buildings. It would allow for more dollars to boost the salaries of good teachers and allow for greater flexibility to weed out ineffective ones. Finally, it would responsibly lower property taxes and allow real reform to occur across the Commonwealth and assure residents that their investment is yielding data-based results.

Santorum says that Williams “not only votes with Republicans on occasion; he also works hard to cultivate good bipartisan relationships.”

There is perhaps no clearer example of how little left-wing politics actually benefit black Americans than school choice.  Far too many public schools—especially in the inner cities—are abject failures, and many poor and black families would like nothing better than to take their kids somewhere where they could get a real education.  That doesn’t seem like too much to ask to me—especially from an administration already committed to “universal” health care—but to the ruling elites, vouchers are taboo.

Democrats have never been terribly tolerant of dissension in the ranks.  And y’know what?  They have every right to define their party however they see fit, just like Republicans do.  But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be called out on their insistence on bitterly clinging to failed ideas.  But taking on not only the Democratic machine, but also the vicious partisans of the educational establishment, makes Tony Williams a breath of fresh air that deserves credit from every part of the political spectrum.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.





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