My vote for the worst scandal in America right now is the education monopoly that keeps poor, inner-city kids trapped in failing public schools. Special mention here goes to the politicians who oppose giving these children the choice to escape even as they send their own kids to private or elite public schools.
Let’s call them Sidwell Liberals, after the famous Washington, D.C., school where President and Mrs. Obama send their daughters. Despite this personal experience, Mr. Obama signed into law a provision passed by Congress that shuts down Washington D.C.’s voucher program, depriving 1,700 disadvantaged kids of the chance to escape failing public schools through the use of scholarships that let them attend private schools. Two of them attend Sidwell Friends School with the Obama girls.
Mr. Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, professes to support the D.C. choice program but his actions speak louder than words. He has taken back 200 scholarship offers that had already been made to local parents for the next school year. A bipartisan group including Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Nevada Republican John Ensign recently introduced a bill that would extend the Opportunity Scholarship Program for another five years. “It’s not a liberal program or a conservative program,” Mr. Lieberman said, “It’s a program that puts children first.”
Mr. Duncan himself knows the value of choice. He told Science magazine that he thought carefully where to send his daughter to school in the D.C. area when he moved from Chicago to join the Obama cabinet. He explained his decision to live in Virginia thusly: “My family has given up so much so that I could have the opportunity to serve; I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.” Would that the parents of the Washington D.C. children who will be thrown out of their current schools had that same option of relocating in upper-income Arlington and enjoying its relatively good public schools.
Many of the Members of Congress who voted to kill the D.C. scholarship program have made choices their own constituents would love to have but can’t. A Heritage Foundation study found that 38% of Members of Congress send their children to private school, a rate about four times higher than the national average.
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