"I'm a big fan of choice and competition, and in our country, historically, wealthy families have had a lot of options as to where to send their children. And families that didn't come from a lot of money had one option - and usually that option wasn't a good one.
The more options available, the more we give parents a chance to figure out what the best learning environment is for their child." That is a direct quote from the current United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He, and his boss, Democratic President Barack H. Obama, have made charter schools a focal point of their education policy by setting aside millions of dollars in the ARRA (American Reinvestment and Economic Recovery Act) for the creation and expansion of charter schools nationwide as did the previous administration.
Unfortunately, State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassen did not get the memo from the leader of the Democratic party when she voted three times to put a cap on charter school enrollment. That one section of the budget bill if passed will have the effect of closing some charter schools and reduce the number of children attending other charter schools.
In defense of her vote, Sen. Hassen said that a number of senators, including herself, supported the enrollment cap at this time because she supports the budget proposal. Hassan said she'd rather negotiate the concept when the budget heads into committee of conference.
As they say down south, that dog don't hunt. As a former member of the legislature and participant in two budget committee of conferences, it does not make sound negotiating strategy to adopt a position you plan to give up on during the negotiations and announce your intent to abandon the position before the negotiations are to begin.
What is more troubling is that as a big proponent of choice, either for abortion rights or freedom to marry, Sen. Hassen has chosen to deny parents the right to choose which educational opportunity is right for them. I guess for Sen. Hassen the concept of choice is dependent upon which side of the isle it may fall. In November of 2010 we will all have a choice.
Rogers J. Johnson
603 778 8091
Former Member of House Finance
Former House Majority Whip
Former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Education