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Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Republicans are theoretically in favor of more local control of things like education—that's one of the bases for their whole "shrink the federal government" thing. So it's always funny to see just how quickly that idea falls apart when a state or local government does something Republicans don't like. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stood firmly in this tradition Wednesday in a speech on education. On the one hand, he'd have us believe he likes local control:
For far too long the federal government’s approach to fixing our education system has been: spend more money and give more control to DC.
On the other hand, he attacked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his education plans:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vowed Wednesday to use the power of Congress to try to stop New York Mayor Bill de Blasio from limiting the growth of charter schools. [...]

In practice, of course, Congress has little leverage over New York City education policy. Yet Cantor vowed to try to block any rollback in support for charter schools. “Our committees in the House will remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure no one from the government stands in the school house door between any child and a good education,” he said. De Blasio’s policies, he said, “could devastate the growth of education opportunity” and take choice away from countless families in New York City.

De Blasio's specific offenses in Cantor's eyes include saying he might limit co-location, in which charter schools are given space within existing school buildings, leaving public school students sharing a building with better-equipped, better-funded charter students who have often been given the most desirable facilities within the school; services for disabled students have also suffered in co-location cases. De Blasio has also promised to charge rent—on a sliding scale—to charter schools rather than continuing to hand over free space to well-funded organizations run by highly paid executives. This is what Cantor is so outraged about that he would, if he could, overrule de Blasio as the duly and overwhelmingly elected mayor of the city.

Cantor claims he's all about "school choice," but he doesn't want to bring choice to education any more than he wants true local control. He wants to dismantle the notion of a public good and bring private profit to education. He wants to funnel education budgets to private schools and charter management companies and weaken neighborhood schools embedded in the communities of the kids they educate. And ultimately, he doesn't care what the voters of New York City or any other city have made clear they want.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:09 PM PST.

Also republished by New York City and Daily Kos.

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