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Bill Hemmer's School Voucher Proponent Guest Skews Right?

Reported by Priscilla - January 28, 2011 -

Bill Hemmer, earlier this week, reported that Speaker Boehner and Senator Joe Liebermann will be introducing legislation to save a Washington DC "school choice" program which provides scholarships for low income children in DC. Oozing a warm welcome, he introduced his guest Virgina Walden Ford, of "DC Parents for School Choice," whom he credited with a "great attitude." A small red flag went up when he said that she was Boehner's guest of honor for the SOTU speech. More red flags went up as Hemmer continued his "fair & balanced" news segment which being about education seemed like an innocent enough topic. I mean, who wants to root against inner city kids getting a decent education. But as the interview progressed, it became apparent that rather than being just informational, it was just another right wing propaganda piece couched in happy talk. Some research about Hemmer's guest confirmed the agenda.

Walden Ford elaborated on why school choice is so important. Hemmer said that he "saw this program up close" and couldn't understand why members of congress want to defund it. A big red flag went up when Walden Ford said that the only thing she could think of was that "the teacher's union hates this program." She continued to praise the program and predicted dire consequences if it is not renewed. While she spoke of how excited she was to attend the SOTU speech, a photo was shown of her standing with Boehner and Washington DC's Cardinal Wuerl who was also one of Boehner's guest. But it's no coincidence that Wuerl would have been there, as his Catholic school system benefits from the DC school choice program. Hemmer, a Catholic, didn't mention that. Another photo was shown of Wuerl standing in the middle of properly uniformed Catholic school students. The amiable Walden Ford said that she was disappointed that Obama was "sticking to the status quo." Hemmer's description of her being "in the trenches" and his wishing her "best of luck" sounded innocent enough. He even sounded like a proponent of "social justice" when he said that it's not just Washington DC, but "every inner city in the country and this is just one program that has really shined over the past ten years." He said that he hoped that she gets what she wants "for the children's sake." So there it was, mom, apple pie, and poor inner city kids who deserve a good education. Turns out that there's more to the story.

Comment: While Virgina Walden Ford won an award from a non partisan educational group, she is part of a group, Black Alliance For Educational Options which is "dedicated to the eradication of public schools." It is connected to the "Institute for the Transformation of Learning" at Marquette University - a program funded by the right wing Walton Foundation which, in tandem with the Catholic Church, lobbies for school voucher legislation. In a debate about school choice in DC, Walden-Ford's group once "ran an ad comparing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to Bull Connor, who set dogs against civil rights protesters. Another ad compared Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to arch-segregationist George Wallace." Walden Ford is also a "Visiting Fellow" at the right wing "Heritage Institute." So some interesting right wing ties here. But she is dedicated to a cause albeit a partisan one. If Hemmer were "fair & balanced," he could have noted that Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan has stated that improving public schools is more effective as it reaches more kids than the voucher program which provides money for religious schools. (Church/state issue?) Hemmer could have mentioned that even proponents of vouchers say that this should be a local DC and not a congressional issue.

It's an interesting debate with a number of various aspects to it. Obviously, the program has yielded positive results. But on the "fair & balanced" "news" program, "America's Newsroom," you only got to hear one side which, for Fox "News," is the "right" one.


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