San­to­rum has a ‘PR’ prob­lem on state­hood

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS

AD.C. law­maker and staunch state­hood sup­porter has some choice words for for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum, the so­cially con­ser­va­tive Re­pub­li­can whose name does not ap­pear on next month’s Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary bal­lot in the Dis­trict.

In a copy of the draft let­ter ob­tained by The Washington Times, at-large D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber Michael A. Brown flipped the script on Mr. San­to­rum, who while cam­paign­ing for pres­i­dent in Puerto Rico last week said a pre­con­di­tion for the com­mon­wealth is­land’s state­hood wishes would be that “English has to be the prin­ci­pal lan­guage.”

Mr. Brown seeks clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Mr. San­to­rum’s cur­rent po­si­tion on D.C. state­hood, co­gently makes a log­i­cal leap for full vot­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion and urges him to join the fight to make the Dis­trict the 51st state in his let­ter to the pres­i­den­tial wannabe.

“Re­cently, you stated that Puerto Rico should adopt English as its of­fi­cial lan­guage be­fore achiev­ing state­hood,” Mr. Brown wrote. “For many, this was an in­di­ca­tion that if this re­quire­ment was ful­filled, you would sup­port Puerto Rico’s ad­mit­tance as the 51st state. Be­cause, I find it un­likely that this ques­tion will be pro­posed dur­ing one of the na­tion­ally tele­vised de­bates, I am writ­ing to un­der­stand your po­si­tion on vot­ing rights and state­hood for over 620,000 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens who re­side in the Dis­trict of Columbia.”

The let­ter, ex­pected to land Mon­day in Mr. San­to­rum’s snail mail and email boxes, con­tin­ued: “I know that you have voted against leg­is­la­tion that would have sup­ported the ad­mit­tance of the Dis­trict as the 51st state. How­ever, I be­lieve that you and your party sup­port the right of Amer­i­cans to run cer­tain as­pects of their lives with­out gov­ern­ment in­tru­sion or in­ter­fer­ence. . . . “I in­vite you to join us in our fight for equal­ity. I en­cour­age you to stand up for Amer­i­cans who pay the high­est fed­eral tax rates in the coun­try, whose sons and daugh­ters have fought and died in ev­ery ma­jor con­flict since the War of In­de­pen­dence and is home to over 40,000 vet­er­ans, whose pop­u­la­tion is nearly equal with five other states and greater than Wy­oming by mak­ing it clear that if elected pres­i­dent, you will use all the pow­ers of the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice to pro­mote state­hood for Amer­i­cans who re­side in the Dis­trict of Columbia.”

Mr. Brown, an in­de­pen­dent whose heart and mind is com­fort­ably nes­tled in the Demo­cratic Party, and other D.C. vot­ers and state­hood sup­port­ers are free to ex­press their opin­ions on Mr. San­to­rum’s stance, too — just not so much in the April 3 D.C. pri­maries.

The San­to­rum cam­paign failed all three re­quire­ments to get on the bal­lot: It failed to pay the req­ui­site fil­ing fees, failed to gather and sub­mit sig­na­tures from reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans and failed to file a list of pledged del­e­gates.

It seems Mr. San­to­rum, who still needs all the del­e­gates he can get if he wants to take up res­i­dence at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Ave. NW, is snub­bing (or per­haps dub­bing) the na­tion’s cap­i­tal as the Rod­ney Danger­field of pol­i­tics.

English, He­brew and Ara­bic to­gether

As public school of­fi­cials drum their thumbs on the school-clos­ing ta­ble, au­thor­i­ties with the D.C. Public Char­ter School Board are sched­uled to open their eyes and ears to golden op­por­tu­ni­ties for young­sters in the char­ter-school ap­pli­ca­tion process.

Sev­eral char­ters want to open their doors next school year, and all are wor­thy of at­ten­tion as the de­mand and need for in­no­va­tive char­ters grow by leaps and bounds.

On Tues­day, for ex­am­ple, the board’s sched­ule in­cludes a pitch from a Montes­sori school, and on Mon­day, two for­eign-lan­guage schools get an air­ing.

The three schools do not fit neatly in­side the tra­di­tional public-school box, nor should they.

Sela, the name of the pro­posed He­brew-lan­guage school, gets two thumbs up be­cause such a unique school in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal would pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to bridge not only the great aca­demic di­vide be­tween poor D.C. youths and their bet­ter-off coun­ter­parts, but also build a spank­ing new cul­tural one.

How many un­der­served youths learn a lan­guage other than English in tra­di­tional schools?

How many poor youths are af­forded vir­tual vis­its to other lands?

How many youths are im­mersed in a for­eign lan­guage and its cul­ture, in­clud­ing those that have strong Judeo-chris­tian ties, which teach the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong, and in­dif­fer­ence?

If we want all our chil­dren truly to be­come global cit­i­zens, they must learn to speak, read and write in an­other lan­guage. The best time to do that is at young an age as pos­si­ble, and the best place to start is here and now.

All you naysay­ers who fear these public schools will start in­still­ing our pre­cious grade­school­ers with re­li­gious doc­trine, get over it.

I’ll be among the first in line to yell “pull the char­ter” if that in­deed be­comes the case.

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