DEERFIELD - Over 625 people turned out on Monday evening to hear conservative radio host Michael Medved and Fox TV commentator Juan Williams participate in a panel discussion on school choice entitled “Restoring American Exceptionalism”.
The event, part of a nationwide celebration of National School Choice Week, was held at Trinity University in Deerfield and sponsored by WIND560 and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. In addition to the full-house crowd at Olsen Chapel, the event was simulcast to four other events throughout the nation involving hundreds more attendees.
The discussion, moderated by Illinois Policy Institute's John Tillman, focused on the many challenges facing our American education system that is increasingly failing children. Juan Williams was forceful in his assertion the public education system is too often set up to benefit teachers and administrators, not children. He cited the power of education unions as an impediment to improvement and competition and highlighted the example of Michelle Rhee’s dismissal in his hometown of Washington, DC. Williams recently produced and narrated a pro-school choice film, “A Tale of Two Missions” telling the story of competing cultures in American education through examples from Chicago.
To highlight the power of education in America, Medved, who has a syndicated radio show on WIND560, related the story of his father growing up in the slums of South Philadelphia and the son of recent Ukranian immigrants who did not speak English. Because of the excellent education he received in the public school, his father went on to UPenn and achieved a PhD in physics. Medved asserted American public education could be great again, if increased competition and accountability were introduced into the system with great teachers receiving increased pay and poor performers dismissed.
“We were thrilled to be joined by two thoughtful and eloquent advocates for school choice coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum,” said David From, Illinois state director for Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a cosponsor of the forum. “The school choice movement made great gains across the nation, and in Illinois, in 2011. As people increasingly focus on the need to better educate our children and push back against the overreach of the education unions, we’ll continue to see progress in giving parents and children more education options.”