Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't buy an ad, buy a columnist!

Salt Lake Tribune writer Dan Harrie makes an important point about LaVarr Webb's Sunday column on vouchers .
"Webb delivers a convincing, forceful argument for vouchers, coming across as an open-minded fellow who has considered all sides.

Only problem -- he doesn't come clean with the fact he is a devout pro-voucher activist with business interests in the issue.

Webb is listed in state corporate filings as a director of the pro-voucher group Parents for Choice in Education Inc."
I don't fault Mr. Webb's participation with Parents for Choice in Education (PCE), that's his choice and even the best of people can make mistakes. But, I do agree with Mr. Harrie that Webb should have disclosed his leadership position with PCE in his column, and that his company, services, and influence ( like many Utah legislators), was bought and paid for by PCE.

To read Dan's complete "Out of Context" post click here.

UPDATE: A Note from LaVarr Webb

UPDATE TOO: Dan Harrie, Standing by it

1 comment:

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Rob,

I read Lavar's article. And, I think he makes some very good arguments for vouchers.

Personally, I do not claim to know what, if any, alleged conflicts he should or should not have disclosed. (I will have to trust you and Dan Harrie on that one.) But, if anyone here cares, I give my solemn word of honor that I am not connected to PCE, the Sutherland Institute, any pro-voucher group, or any individual with an economic interest in the matter whatsoever.

It is true that I am a loyal Republican. And, I try to serve faithfully within that organization as my limited time permits. But, that is as far as my connection goes.

I am not compensated for my advocacy of vouchers. I owe no fellow Republican any favors. I am not trying to win points with anybody. And, only a handful of individuals have divined my true identity anyway, so I promise that all of my comments on the subject have been heartfelt -- in all of their glorious, if not embarrassing, imperfection.

I sincerely support the concept of vouchers because I have seen firsthand the efforts of Secular Humanists to force their social agenda down the throats of our nation's children by way of the education system of this country. I have consistently witnessed their efforts to undermine traditional values and parental authority, and to redefine the nature of the family. I am alarmed by the progress they have made. Thus, I see vouchers as a way of pushing back against the tide, preparing the way for a possible future retreat as it becomes increasingly difficult to live in the world and not be of the world.

But, on the other hand, I am worried about the increased stratification of our society. I can see how a voucher system could contribute to that. Plus, I don't know how the courts will interpret the Utah Constitution on the matter. There could be some expensive legal battles looming. And, I am not so foolish as to not know that some extreme "madrasah" type schools out there might benefit from a voucher system. Beyond that, as a political conservative, I am not so sure that vouchers do not create an opening for the tentacles of the government to reach into the private school system. (Eventually, what the government pays for, it attempts to control.) These are all concerns I have, so I am glad that there is a loyal opposition out there (folks like you, Rob) who are making sure that all the right questions are being asked.

But, in weighing those concerns with the reality that someday it may be in the best interest of many Utah families to pull their children from the public school system, I want to do my part in making sure there will be options in place for them. Thus, I have come down on the side of vouchers.

Early on in this process I was chatting with someone from the office of legislative counsel, and I asked him what he honestly thought about the whole voucher issue. He confided that Utah's law represented a token gesture that would do neither all the good its proponents claim, nor all the bad is critics claim. Really, as the Governor once described it, the voucher law passed by the Legislature simply represents a relatively small "experiment" that is worth exploring. After two years, we can make some adjustments to improve things as needed. The world will not end if vouchers go into effect. Public schools will not collapse. But, we will have created some options for some good parents who want to do right by their children.

You, Rob, have a beautiful family that you rightfully adore. Surely, you understand this impulse. Why not allow more options for parents? You are a true liberal in all the best connotations of that word. Why do you fear allowing freedom of choice in education? Please, trust parents to love their children enough to do what is best for them. Let them be the ones who make the decision one way or the other.