School vouchers has been a difficult issue for me. I am not a big fan of most ideas from Milton Friedman (who first proposed school choice back in the 50's) or most of the politicians who have promoted vouchers. Furthermore, I generally support public education and labor unions. I have always voted to fund public education at every opportunity. At the same time, I also recognize that education has traditionally been a public-private partnership with a significant number of our students educated in private or church-related schools.
Education does not seem to work well with one size fits all solutions. It seems unlikely that the public school system is going out of existence nor should that happen. In some districts, the public schools are doing a great job and there are some troubled public schools where it is difficult for a child to get a decent education. The notion that poor children ought to have the opportunity for private education where there are failing schools seems to be a very populist concept.
Democrats often strongly oppose experimenting with vouchers. Joe Lieberman dared to suggest that maybe school vouchers are not such an bad idea - one of a few issues that has haunted him in the Democratic primary. Like many issues, what cause problems with Democratic primary voters can be a strength in the general election. Teacher unions and secularists - both opponents of vouchers have a strong influence within the Democratic Party.
Educational choice is an important issue for values voters and Democrats might have more appeal to that constituency with a less hostile attitude toward vouchers. Our party should support public education but reconsider the knee jerk opposition to school vouchers. If approached the right way, a little competition between public and private educators can help improve all of our schools and the quality of education.
* SINATRA: AN INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN MUSIC AND POLITICS
Among my other interests outside of politics is music. I am especially into older musical styles - R & B, classic country, early (pre-Beatles) rock and roll, gospel, jazz and especially pop standards. One of my favorite singers is the "Chairman of the Board" Frank Sinatra. Eight years after his death, Sinatra continues to gain new fans around the world.
While his popularity was greatest with the WWII Generation, Sinatra had appeal to a wide range of age groups. In fact, Sinatra had top 40 hits ranging from "I'll Never Smile Again" in 1941 to "New York,New York" in 1980. Some of Sinatra's greatest recordings were never chart hits such as "Lady Day" - a moving song about the troubled and all too brief life of blues singer Billie Holiday - which appeared on the 1969 "Sinatra & Company' album.
There was also a political side and social activist side to Frank Sinatra. In the late 40's, Sinatra appeared in a 10 minute film short called "The House I Live In" (also a hit song) which appealed for racial and religious tolerance in America. Sinatra was always an outspoken critic of racial segregation.
As a John Kennedy supporter during the 1960 campaign, Sinatra recorded a version of "High Hopes" that promoted the JFK candidacy. The song was featured on Kennedy TV advertising and also blared from campaign soundtrucks in major cities. http://tinyurl.com/r6ddq
Like many Catholic ethnic Democrats, Sinatra became disillusioned with the Democratic Party following the McGovernite takeover. Sinatra later supported Ronald Reagan for President appearing with Reagan at St. Ann's Catholic Church in his hometown on Hoboken,New Jersey. In supporting Reagan, Sinatra symbolized millions of New Deal Democrats who felt alienated from the party.
Bill Clinton paid tribute to the "Chairman" recognizing the need to win back the "Sinatra Democrats." Some observers have even suggested that George W. Bush has looked to Sinatra for inspiration in his developing his misguided foreign policy "I Did It My Way."
I am a Baby Boomer and became familar with the wide range of Sinatra's recordings in part by listening to a weekly syndicated radio program called Sounds of Sinatra which is still on the air in a number of markets. Sounds of Sinatra has a website at www.soundsofsinatra.com with links to radio stations that stream the program on the internet.
There was certainly a dark side to the "Chairman" but in my opinion, Sinatra was among male vocalists the greatest interpreter of the American popular song. Mel Torme was also a great singer but was more the leader in the jazz realm. Given the present state of American popular music (and I think we are really more in a post-musical era in terms of pop music), the odds of another Sinatra coming along are quite slim.