Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Maybe this money won't be so badly spent 

I have already confessed my discomfiture over the size of governmenet spending on relief from Katrina. But it appears some in Congress are using this as an opportunity for some real experiments in conservative ideas. The House Education and Workforce Committee yesterday proposed direct payments of education relief money to families.
For one year, the proposal creates Family Education Reimbursement Accounts to allow families and schools to bypass existing bureaucracies and provide direct reimbursement to schools on behalf of children displaced by the storms.

�The hurricanes have put a strain on schools across the nation, yet public, private, and charter schools have all risen to the challenge, opening their doors and welcoming displaced students as their own,� said [committee chair John] Boehner (R-Ohio). �Our hurricane recovery efforts must be focused on empowering individuals, and that�s why this proposal provides direct aid to parents and families rather than simply writing a blank check to existing government bureaucracies.�
The accounts provide $6700 per child to an account set up over the Internet or an 800 number, and parents would direct the money to the school where the child was enrolled. Since most displaced children are already enrolled, this avoids the cost of re-enrollment at a school the education bureaucracy decided could have the money.

The teachers unions have all been lined up against the idea since it was offered in Bush's speech in New Orleans last month. They are trying to force Louisianans, many of whom were choosing private schools before Katrina, into government schools. Let's hope the Republicans in the House persist in this battle.