In spite of this dramatic shift in public attitude, the mainstream media in defense of the status quo have continuously editorialized against school choice, against the will, wishes, desires and needs of the majority population (black, Hispanic and poor) most adversely affected in our public schools.
In the Philadelphia Compact poll, the groups that still oppose school choice are well-educated, high-income professionals; the sole religious group identified was Jewish.
The questions I have to ask are these:
* Are these the groups that benefit the most from the maintenance of the status quo?
* What influence do these groups have on running or influencing our schools?
* In light of the fact that 68 percent of all Philadelphians - 74 percent of blacks, 74 percent of Hispanics, 74 percent of the poor and 78 percent of parents of school-age children - support vouchers, does further resistance by those minority groups and the media constitute cultural imperialism, elitism or racism?
* If the detractors of school choice vouchers find the conditions of public schools so good, why don't they consider the prospect of moving their families into the communities and schools where blacks, Hispanics and poor live and allow them to switch places?
* Finally, how much effort will the media exert in trying to influence Gov. Ridge and the Legislature not to enact a school choice bill for Pennsylvania in the spring of 1999, so that all Pennsylvanians will be a little closer to democratic choice?
Dr. Walter Palmer is president of the Palmer Foundation and is a co-convener of the Philadelphia Coalition for Educational Reform and School Choice.