Parents, especially low-income parents, have a right to be confused about how President Obama really feels about education, especially when it comes to educational choices.
During the much-publicized hunt for a proper school for the Obama children, local public schools were clearly not even remotely considered to be adequate. Instead, an exclusive-and very costly-private school was selected to meet the educational needs of the first family. Subsequently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made sure his own children had the pick of the best schools, stating that their education was too important to jeopardize with a bad educational environment.
Columnist Issac Bailey of the Sun News editorializes on School Choice in South Carolina and Washington DC (5/16).
“Education decisions disappoint”
I haven’t decided whether I’m more disappointed in Gov. Mark Sanford or President Obama.
In the latest school choice debate, the governor seemed all but silent. He felt it more important to hammer home his principles about limited government and tax cuts in the fight over a stimulus package he could not stop. The $700 million he has some control over may be wrestled away by the General Assembly, which passed a budget that included the stimulus money. That means a court fight is likely, one Sanford stands a good chance of losing.
Without that money, the state expects an additional 500 teachers to lose their jobs on top of 1,000 others that probably can’t be saved.
Sanford tried to use his leverage to force needed reform in state government, but he forgot one of the most important reforms, that of our educational system.
His “Put Parents First” bill of a few years ago wasn’t perfect, but it pushed the school choice debate onto the front page in a state slow to change. It would not have gotten that far without Sanford’s visible support. I like vouchers more than the tax credits he initially pushed. Still, because of his advocacy for choice, reform within the public school system happened more rapidly.
The charter school system is more robust, and the “public school choice” bill Superintendent of Education Jim Rex seems to be successfully ushering through the Statehouse probably would not have occurred at all had there not been a real school choice movement. Continue reading →
Members of Congress ( 38% of which chose to send their own children to private school) sent a cutting message about governmental priorities to parents this week. Ignoring the large crowd of parents and children begging them to preserve the Washington, D.C. school choice program, politicians brushed them aside to do what they felt was best for their own political careers: say “how high?” when unions said “jump!”
Adding insult to a real injury for low-income families, the US Senate approved a “Cash for Clunkers” bill the same day that would hand out $4,500 vouchers to people who trade in their old cars for a newer, more fuel efficient machines.
The cruel irony of the Senate’s actions will not be lost on the families forced to send their children back to dangerous, failing public schools. Apparently, many of the same elected officials who believe financial incentives are evil and destructive when they are given to low-income students who need an education, are happy to pass out benefits to people who can afford to buy new vehicles.
Actions speak louder than the empty words uttered on the campaign trail, and the actions of U.S. Senators say that they think good mileage is more important than childrens’ education. Continue reading →
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Michelle Obama-along with a variety of Hollywood celebrities, singers and military officers- will be visiting Washington, D.C. schools to speak to students setting goals and pursuing their dreams.
According to the first lady’s office, “These events are an extension of the Obama administration’s commitment to engage with the D.C. community and open the White House for arts, culture and educational purposes.”
A few short months ago, the new president made a strong statement about his “commitment to engage with the D.C. community” when he enrolled his own children in a costly, exclusive private school.
However noble the intent of Mrs. Obama’s school tour, a question needs to be answered for parents with children in public schools: If public schools are not good enough to help the Obama children achieve their dreams, why should they be the only option for everyone else? Continue reading →
President-elect Obama has still not named his appointee to be the next US Secretary of Education.
This upcoming decision is of particular interest to South Carolinians, as former State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum is considered to be in the running for the nation’s top education post.
In addition to the notoriety of overseeing the nation’s worst performing public education system for eight years, Tenenbaum is well-remembered for her constant pleading to “stay the course” no matter how bad things got in local public schools. Based on South Carolina’s massive $11,480.00 per student spending, it seemed to work.
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.
In an article for Forbes.com, Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, writes –
“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…” Continue reading →