Below is an excerpt from my weekly column in the Anchorage Daily News:
Are advocates of changing our constitution to allow for vouchers getting a lesson in the school of hard knocks? “Kids not Cuts” signs are sprouting like weeds. Protests all across the state are being organized. Supporters are working the phones, hard.
But fear not: The education privateers have a plan, says a trusted source who overheard two of them discussing the issue at a Midtown sandwich shop. The plan involves using capital projects to land the vote of a certain rural Democratic lawmaker.
Vouchers might not be a bad thing, and no doubt for democratic reasons we should allow the vote and the conversation. But if the people who’d talk loudly in a Midtown sandwich shop are involved, I’d rather entrust the education of our youths to any number of tenured, burned-out, atheistic teachers.
Frankly, the kids seem plenty all right to me, at least if UAA’s debate team is any kind of barometer. On Tuesday, the team took on the thorny gas line issue before Commonwealth North at the Hilton Anchorage, schooling about 100 community and business leaders on whether or not the state should invest in the line. Wiley Cason, the future governor of Alaska, and Matthieu Ostrander argued against investment. Amy Parrent and Jonathan Taylor argued for it.
Legislators have spent countless hours and millions of dollars with consultants trying to explain the pros and the cons of a state investment in the pipeline. Who knew that all they needed was the UAA debate team?
Judy Brady, Karen Hunt and Fran Ulmer were the judges. By a very slight margin, the no-investment team won. What probably cinched it was Cason’s line that the state spending its saving trying to get into the gas business “fills me with dread,” particularly given the state’s history of trying to act like the private sector.
Well, now that you put it that way, you could hear the crowd thinking.
Read the rest here.