Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kelsey Climbs Kilimanjaro, Receives Motivational Message from Heavens

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 7:30 AM

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Sen. Brian Kelsey, the legislature's champion grandstander, claims to have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro this summer. And guess what? It taught him a lesson in how to ram school vouchers — or opportunity scholarships, as he calls them — down our throats.

Persistence pays off! Over and over during my hike up Kilimanjaro, my guide repeated, “po-le, po-le,” which means “slowly, slowly” in Swahili. He knew that climbing the mountain too fast would lead to altitude sickness and would leave me short of my goal.

The final ascent on day five was six grueling hours of climbing. The last hour before reaching the crater rim of the volcano was the steepest part of the hike, and it was up scree, which is loose dirt. Every step forward results in a half-step slide backward. This is the height of frustration.

Such was the frustration this year as the opportunity scholarship bill stalled in the legislature.

This is all hilarious, especially Kelsey's crocodile tears for poor children. He cares so much! And it's even funnier if you know what's really happening with vouchers in Tennessee. The truth is, the American Federation for Children — a PAC funded by rich Republicans — unleashed an $800,000 TV and radio ad campaign in Tennessee to promote vouchers and gave $250,000 to the campaigns of legislators. And all that almost paid off. "Grisi mitende yangu" — that's Swahili for "grease my palm."

As you recall, Gov. Bill Haslam withdrew his voucher bill after Kelsey, himself a rich Republican from Germantown, insisted on trying to amend it to expand the program. He wanted vouchers to cover the children of families earning up to $75,000. Of course, that would have been just the beginning. Kelsey and his ilk won't stop until they've privatized the entire public school system.

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