Michael Benjamin's blog
Republican/Conservative gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino says he is “mad as hell” and will be the people’s champion. He pledges to take a baseball bat to Albany corruption. Paladino promises to take out the trash as well as reporters who cross him. He rages against the political machine, Albany corruption, politicians, immigrants, and media elites.
Mr. Paladino is a self-styled Howard Beale, the psychotic television news anchor, portrayed by Peter Finch, in the 1976 film, “Network.” Beale revolts against the misery afflicting working class life. Beale’s wild on-air outburst causes his network’s ratings to soar and earns him a new show as the “mad prophet” of the airways. Like Beale, Mr. Paladino’s angry message found an audience and last week it launched him past the milquetoast Rick Lazio.
Last Monday, on NBC’s Today Show, President Obama called for a longer school year, education reform, greater parental involvement, and the firing of incompetent teachers. But it was his response to Matt Lauer's question about whether his daughters could get the same quality education at a District of Columbia school as at their private school that grabbed my attention. He rightly acknowledged that DC public schools are struggling to provide a high quality educational experience for all students. But the President’s acknowledgement is hollow given his lack of direct support for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). Since its inception as the first federally funded, school voucher program in the United States, the DC OSP has helped more than 3,300 children from families with an average annual income of $23,000. Several studies found that parents and students were very satisfied with the program; parents were more involved in their children’s education; communication between parents and their child improved; children have an improved attitude toward learning; an increased self-esteem and enthusiasm towards school for children; and students achieved higher reading test scores. These findings prove that the OSP has been successful in increasing the academic progress of the enrolled students and is leading the race to the top for those students and their families President Obama’s inaction prevents over 200 DC students from completing their education at a parochial or private school of their choice. Those OSP students are academically, at least, 18 months ahead of their public school peers (just as Malia and Sasha are). I urge the President to changes his mind and support the DC school voucher program by getting Congress to reauthorize funding.