Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Obama Chooses Private School for His Kids: Might He Have a Change of Heart on Choice for Other Kids?
During the past two decades, every Democratic nominee for President has vigorously opposed school choice for poor children trapped in failing urban public schools, even while choosing to send his own children to private rather than public schools. Looking to the Presidents who had school-age children while in the White House in recent decades, Democratic President Clinton rejected the D.C. public schools and chose an elite Washington, D.C. private school for his daughter. Nonetheless, President Clinton stood loyally by the teachers' unions and resisted any federal support, even as a token, that would afford a similar choice for poor children in the District of Columbia. By contrast, Republican President G.W. Bush kept his twin daughters in public school in Texas, even as he supported the initiation of a school voucher pilot program in the District of Columbia.
Now we learn that our next Democratic President Barack Obama likewise has bypassed the D.C. public school system and selected the same elite and expensive private school -- Sidwell Friends -- for his two daughters. During the campaign, Obama adhered to the teachers' union mantra against educational choice. Having chosen Sidewell Friends as the school for his own children, might he now have a change of heart?
As said in a Washington Post editorial urging continued support for school choice in D.C.: "[A]s President-elect Barack Obama and his wife decide what's right for Malia and Sasha, Mr. Obama might want to think about the families that he would deny this precious freedom of choice." The question is especially poignant now that the Obama family has chosen a private school that participates in the D.C. voucher program and thus includes children whose only opportunity to attend that school may be afforded by the continuation of the program. As the Washington Post concluded, if President Obama were to stand by his position that the D.C. voucher program should be terminated, "classmates of Malia and Sasha might lose the ability to attend their chosen school . . . . That wouldn't seem fair."