Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Obama walk the talk on public education when decides where his daughters will attend school in DC?

Many liberal public officials, including President-elect Obama, have touted the value of public education and toed the teacher's unions' line in opposing private school choice options for poor parents.

The inconsistency, or one might say hypocrisy, of their position is they tout their concern for the less fortunate yet vehemently oppose giving poor, often inner city parents the same opportunities they enjoy -- sending their children to a private school in lieu of a poor performing, unsafe inner city public school. (And of course it should be noted that private school choice can be done in such a way that it will actually save taxpayers money in the long run.)

And their opposition to private school choice is also inconsistent with their redistributionist policies done in the name of spreading the wealth around, albeit except when it comes to helping poor parents choose the best education opportunity for their children, which is often a private school.

Clarence Page, African American, liberal columnist raises the question: will the Obama's place their kids in a private or public school?

Parenting humbles any of us who try it -- even new residents of the White House.

Choosing a new puppy? Ha! The Obamas face a much tougher public relations dilemma: Are they willing to put their school-aged daughters where daddy's political promises have been?

The education world is waiting to see whether Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, will be sent to private school while their father continues to oppose tax-supported programs that offer a similar choice to less-fortunate parents.

The question of vouchers as an alternative to public schools crosses color lines, but it is particularly appropriate for the nation's first African American president.

Page notes that Michelle Obama's actions after the election give a clue to their intentions; she went to Washington, DC and toured a private Georgetown day school.

The inconsistency of people who argue in favor of public schools, oppose private school choice options for poor parents, and yet send their kids to private schools goes beyond Obama and other liberal elected officials to public school teachers. Now I'm sure not all public school teachers oppose private school choice but I suspect most of them do and the teachers union they belong to clearly does.

Page notes that public school teachers send their kids to private schools in significantly greater numbers than the general public.
Yet teachers unions lead opposition to such alternatives, even though studies like a 2004 Thomas B. Fordham Institute report find big city public school teachers to be more likely than the general population they serve to have their own children in private schools.

In Obama's hometown, Chicago, for example, 38.7 percent of public school teachers sent their children to private schools, the Fordham study found, compared to 22.6 percent of the general public.

In Washington, D.C., 26.8 percent of public school teachers sent their children to private schools, versus 19.8 percent of the public.

I wonder if school choice won't become a bigger issue with Obama in the White House. Hopefully, leaders in the African American community will raise their voices on the importance of giving all parents access to better schools, whether public or private schools.

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