On October 21, Rudy Giuliani convinced me that he could be the Republican nominee for President. In a singular moment during the Fox News Channel debate on that day, he almost persuaded me that I want him to be.
That instant came when Giuliani was asked what he would do to bring public school teachers that he had angered in New York City and those who have been alienated by No Child Left Behind back into the fold for the GOP.
Giuliani answered, “…what we need is choice.”
The Fox News panelist interrupted, asking skeptically, “That’s going to bring back public school teachers?”
In a moment of clarity bordering on the epiphanous, Giuliani offered, “Well, I love teachers…but I actually care about the kids more.”
Giuliani’s push back was brilliant in its simplicity. We are turning out generations of stunted intellects unable to think critically because failing urban school systems are run for the convenience and benefit of adults rather than for the interests of the students relegated to these educational Edsels.
After relaying an anecdote about a school choice program in New York City that received 168,000 applications for only 2,500 available scholarships, Giuliani closed with the money shot, declaring school choice to be “the single biggest civil rights issue that we face in the 21st century.”
It is precisely that and nothing less.
And it is as refreshing as it is rare to hear a Presidential candidate speak in such stark terms.
For months I have wondered if the campaign of the “nation’s mayor” would offer a second story beyond 9/11. By his willingness to use his bully pulpit to promote school choice — with little to be gained politically in the short-term in so doing — Giuliani is proving that his performance on 9/11 was no aberration.
Oprah Winfrey, the patron saint of suburban soccer moms, may have given up on kids in failing public schools in this country but Rudy Giuliani has not.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Rudy Giuliani’s political courage and straight talk as to what must be done to do right by millions of poor kids who deserve options in this land of opportunity to which a quality education is the price of admission.