Had breakfast this a.m. with Mark Shriver, son of Sargent (and yes, for the celebrity-obsessed, brother-in-law of Arnold). He was in town to talk up the literacy programs his organization, Save the Children, is supporting in South Carolina.
Actually, he had two main points:
- His group’s S.C. affiliate supports increasing our nation’s-lowest cigarette tax to the national average. I liked this about their position: They see the need (as does our editorial board) to raise the tax whatever it is spent on, because it will prevent a lot of teens from taking up smoking just by raising the price. He’d prefer to see it spent on health care and smoking prevention efforts, though.
- He’d like state support for his organization’s efforts to give an extra boost to reading skills of kids in poor, rural school districts — wherever the money comes from.
He made the point that as a legislator in Maryland, he was hard-headed about making sure groups that sought money could demonstrate a return on investment, and he’s sure that the economic development boost of better-educated kids qualifies. But I don’t know; I’m inclined to think we should concentrate more on improving the schools themselves, and let private money support private efforts. (That’s not an official editorial opinion; I’d have to study this more. I’m just giving you my first-blush thoughts from the meeting.)
Interestingly, when Mr. Shriver brought up the upcoming reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, I asked what his uncle was thinking about that — seeing as how he had worked with the president to get it passed.
That led to a discussion of a difference between Mr. Shriver and Uncle Ted, who he said is more interested in finding ways to upgrade the teaching corps than in private efforts. I don’t have all the details, but I would tend to think the senator’s on the right track there.
Not to denigrate Save the Children’s efforts. They sound laudable, and I wish them the greatest of success. Our rural areas can use the help, and that’s a profound understatement.
The breakfast was set up by Ted Riley, who I learned does an almost scary impersonation of his dad, the former governor and Education secretary. I’ll have to get that on video sometime.