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Stern/FCC/School Vouchers

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I’m posting this badly written LTE to show the influence one can have on the media. (The day’s agenda left little time for a much needed sequence of rest and edits.)


The New York Sun has made the horror that is public education in New York City one of its issues. They’ve been strong supporters of improving the system through a variety of ways; they’ve even expressed support for approaches like tax credits and vouchers.

On 10/4, the Sun ran a piece on Public Schools Chancellor Klein’s efforts to lift a NY State imposed limit on the number of charter schools NYC’s Public Schools can fund (this limit was put in place, and fiercely defended by, NY State’s very powerful Teachers’ Union for reasons Objectivist understand all too well.)

On 10/6, it was announced that shock-jock and overall misanthrope, Howard Stern, was moving his program to satellite radio. (The FCC has been giving Stern and the companies that run his program a very hard time for more than a decade. Shortly after Stern switched from Iraq War supporter to critic, the FCC was no longer content with hearings and fines. It looked like Stern’s show, one of the highest rated and most profitable syndicated radio programs in the world, was about to be muzzled.)

That afternoon I sent in my LTE.

It wasn’t published until 10/12. In that edition there’s a piece by a former FCC commissioner on how out of control the FCC has become (I can’t help but think that my LTE got the Assistant Editor thinking that the usually reserved Sun should expose some of the FCC’s nonsense by using Stern’s situation as a springboard.)

As published in the lead spot, my LTE read:

Here's a multiple-choice question for charter school agnostics/opponents ["Klein Is Seeking To Lift The Limit On New Charters", October 4, 2004]:

Howard Stern's move to satellite radio is to the Federal Communications Commission as choice-empowered parents will be to:

a) Teachers' unions.

B) The legislators, judges and bureaucrats these unions have significant influence over.

c) The thoroughly discredited teaching methods these unions continue to embrace.

d) The social engineering being done at the expense of the three Rs and the American Sense of Life.

e) All of the above.

The answer is: e) All of the above.

A clever idea will enable Mr. Stern to simply bypass the arbitrary, potentially destructive, rights-defying practices of the FCC. If Mr. Stern establishes satellite radio as a viable alternative, and he probably will, the broadcast industry will grow beyond all recognition.

Charters allow parents to bypass many of the entities and practices that have the mightiest nation on Earth graduating students with less academic skills and abilities than are required by the public school systems of many Third World nations.

How do we maximize the benefits of sidestepping the entrenched, offer them to all, and do so in the fastest way possible while keeping costs under control? By bringing in, and diligently keeping the road clear for, key laissez-faire mechanisms: vouchers.

<End LTE>

(The biggest mistake in the above was using the term “laissez-faire”.)

In the 10/15 weekend edition, a Sun editorial, _The Schools at a Crossroads_, reads:

“But the more we observe the maneuvering of the politicians and the disappointment of parents, the harder it is to escape the conclusion that the best way to provide choice and quality would be to unleash some market forces with vouchers.”


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