The current voucher mess illustrates a sad low point in public discourse. The course of events reads like the script of a soap opera. Our legislature passed two laws to implement a voucher system with the expressed intent of giving citizens a choice in educating our children. One of the two bills is now up for a ballot referendum in November which casts a cloud on the whole situation. The second bill stipulates that the State Board of Education should implement vouchers this summer but the chairman of the Board of Education, an outspoken critic of vouchers, has refused even after the Attorney General has told the board to comply with the law as written. Of course the whole thing has gone to the courts for “clarification” but no matter what the courts say we will still have dedicated people on both sides of the debate who will push their respective agendas. Now we have the Attorney General revoking the status as “special assistant to the Attorney General” of two attorneys working for the Board of Education.
It boils down to the fact that the Board of Education is refusing to comply with the law when they are not elected either to make law or to interpret it. On the other hand, the legislature managed to pass two bills that are largely redundant and forcefully opposed. They have done this in such a way that neither the ruling of the courts nor the ballot referendum will necessarily settle the issue. This sounds more like the work of a handful of powerful partisans than the result of honest efforts by 104 people (the combined size of the House and Senate) trying to represent their constituencies and bring about the best resolution to a high-profile issue.
People on both sides of the issue have called for a special session as the means of clearing up the two existing bills and paving the way for the issue to be resolved. Those who advocate for this approach are likely the most intent on finding a solution rather than just pushing an agenda.
Whatever the outcome of the whole thing, I fear that the final effect on education will be to provide a striking example of how our system of government can be manipulated and hobbled by any minority that is determined enough about what they are trying to accomplish or prevent.
UPDATE: The state Supreme Court ruled that if the citizens voted against vouchers on the referendum in November it would be binding on both bills.