President-elect Obama’s school choice plan: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Despite much talk from President-elect Obama about his faith in public schools, he has chosen to send his two children to an exclusive, $29,000-a-year private school in Washington. This exercise of school choice has been noted by many as not in keeping with his campaign rhetoric about the danger of parents employing private school choice.
“During the campaign, Obama said he supports charter schools, which are public schools that are free of some bureaucratic constraints, but that he opposes private school choice, because it doesn’t work. Turns out it does work for the Obamas, who determined that no public or charter school in the nation’s capital would be the “best fit” for their daughters. Instead they chose Sidwell Friends, an exclusive private school…”
Bolick is careful to say that no one should condemn the Obama family for choosing the best school for their children; that is, after all, their right as parents. Instead, Bolick challenges the President-elect to give less-privileged families access to the same opportunities.
In perhaps the most pithy segment of the entire editorial, Bolick quotes Milwaukee choice advocate Polly Williams’ statement “The president shouldn’t be the only person who lives in public housing who gets to send his kids to private schools.”
The Obama family based their own school decision on educational quality and safety concerns, but in turn act like everyone else should be content with going to school where their zip-code dictates. What about the millions of other less-empowered families that are told their own fears about safety and effectiveness will play no role in where their child attends school?
Every day in South Carolina many thousands of families send their children off to public schools that are failing academically. Clearly the President-elect would not send his children to these schools, but his words against school choice indicate that he is fine with other people having to attend them.
The same double standard is the order of the day among school choice opponents in South Carolina. Bureaucrats who praise the effectiveness of local public schools use their hefty government salaries to send their own children to private schools. Politicians who assault school choice as a “drain on public schools” enroll their own kids in expensive private institutions.
It is time to enact a school choice program in South Carolina that will give all parents the opportunity to have their children in schools where they feel they will be safe and well-educated. Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida all have thriving programs that meet this very need; why should hypocrisy on the part of a few keep the same thing from happening here in South Carolina?