Thursday, December 06, 2007

Obstacles to Education Reform

George Will takes a look at the impediments that exist to much needed education reform--and not just special interests like teacher unions but also 19th century religious bigotry written into state constitutions.

HARLEM (or maybe not) -- Asked whether his brownstone residence is in Harlem, the Rev. Michel Faulkner says, well, that depends. "When something bad happens, the neighborhood is called Harlem. When something good happens, it is the Upper West Side." Faulkner is trying to make something good happen, but is opposed by a U.S. speaker of the House who died 114 years ago but whose mischief goes marching on.

Faulkner, 50, is an African-American who played defensive line for Virginia Tech and, briefly, the New York Jets. Recoiling from what he calls "the social and community chaos" he saw growing up in Washington's Anacostia section, and that he blamed on Lyndon Johnson's Great Society welfarism, Faulkner served as vice president for urban ministry at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He left that sedate environment to minister to the down-and-out around Times Square, before its sinfulness had been scrubbed away.

Now he wants to create a charter school -- a public school enjoying considerable autonomy from, among other burdens, teachers unions. It would be affiliated with his New Horizon Church. But New York's Constitution has a Blaine Amendment.

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