Hero of the Day - Clint Bolick Somebody should give the copywriter at Institute for Justice a raise.

Whereas most bio blurbs merely rattle off a resume, IOJ's promo of its VP, litigation director and co-founder stipulates that Clint Bolick possesses "the dreams of Don Quixote and the political savvy of a Boston pol. Combine those traits in a personality as animated as Clint's role model, Snoopy, and you have the Institute for Justice's litigation director. Clint applies his broad vision in defending rights that have been wronged with sophisticated, provocative arguments both in the courts and in the court of public opinion. It is no wonder such commitment to both justice and winning has led him to victories in defending Milwaukee's school choice program, opening Houston's jitney market, and clearing the way for shoeshine artists and cosmetologists in Washington, D.C. In Clint's wake, once-bold government bureaucrats find themselves humbled and ordinary citizens regain a measure of freedom."

Bolick is also an author; his most recent books are The Affirmative Action Fraud and Grassroots Tyranny: The Limits of Federalism.

One of Bolick's premier passions is school choice. His first battle in that arena was over the pioneering voucher program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The educrats rolled out all their cannon, but couldn't beat Bolick. "It was a tiny program that evoked a tremendous response from the educational bureaucracy, in the form of lawsuits and an onslaught of regulations," he told "Frontline." "We represented the parents and children, defending the program and challenging the regulations. And on the first day of school in the year of 1990, we were successful. The kids crossed the threshold to a new day in their educational opportunities, and they've never looked back...."

Setting aside the bogus laments of teacher's unions and other bulwarks of the educational establishment, who are motivated by the desire to protect turf, the most challenging criticism of vouchers have come from libertarians who fear the specter of increased government control of private schools, and that vouchers do not represent a way station to complete privatization of schooling but an end game. It is true that some advocates of vouchers deride the prospect of complete separation of church and state as chimerical.

Bolick himself sees nothing amiss in the post-secondary system of education that a voucher-driven education system would most likely resemble. "The states run their own school systems and they also provide funding for students to go wherever they want, to private or to public schools. That system is the world's envy." Bolick seems oblivious to the charges of waste and malfeasance in higher education that critics claim have been abetted by competition-squelching public funding.

Still, vouchers have done a lot to shake up the public school monopoly, and if they're not the final or exclusive answer, they do give plenty of hope to strapped parents whose kids would otherwise be trapped in shoddily performing schools.

"I really do view this as the Berlin Wall," says Bolick, "and the first bricks are already coming down. Once those first bricks come down, the rest of them are coming down really fast. It's not really a question of whether school choice is going to expand around the United States, but when."

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3 Dec 2008