Via Media

This story about Senator Ted Kennedy blocking aid to private (read CATHOLIC) schools in a Katrina aid bill:

Culture & Cosmos also reports that a prominent Church prelate said he was furious that aid to private schools had been kept out of the package and he was especially angry that it is being blocked by "four Irish Catholic Senators."

The proposal for financial aid came from the Bush administration and the Department of Education and noted that, "Communities in Louisiana significantly impacted by the hurricane had an above average number of children enrolled in private schools– 61,000 students in private schools compared to 187,000 in public schools in four severely impacted parishes. These significantly impacted Louisiana communities averaged 25 percent of students attending private K-12 schools– much higher than the 11% national average of private school students."

Out of the 61,000 students in private schools, 81 percent, or 50,000 attend Catholic schools. In fact, New Orleans public schools have long had a reputation for poor quality and the Catholic school system there is seen as an affordable refuge.

Senator Kennedy publicly criticized aid for private schools yesterday in a statement, saying: "This is not the time for a partisan political debate on vouchers." Despite the high percentage of New Orleans students who attend private school, Kennedy said that "we need to focus on rebuilding the public school systems which are the cornerstones of the Gulf Coast communities and economies."

… sort of madness, not only for the reasons provided, but because you know, the public schools absorbing these students…don’t have enough room for them. They are scrambling. They need private schools to take up the slack.

I’m not a huge voucher fan – I’m too leary of the potential strings that always seem to get attached to such things – but I’ve never completely understood the visceral reaction from public school entities to them. My experience in education was mostly in places like Florida, where public schools are busting at the seams and there is simply no more money to make more schools, and not much will, in a state where retirees have so much political power. It also seemed to me that even public school advocates could see the value of taking some of the pressure off their own schools. But they never seem to. Hmm.

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