Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Obama deserves a scarlet "H" for hypocrisy

by Clint Bolick

In choosing a new school for their daughters, the Obamas did what any good parents should do: they chose the very best they could find. The girls will attend Sidwell Friends, an expensive and exclusive private school that counts Chelsea Clinton among its alumni.

Trouble is Barack Obama would deny the power to choose the best possible schools to parents of lesser means.

During the campaign, Obama stated that school choice doesn't work. If he believes that, why not simply send the girls to whatever school the District of Columbia bureaucracy happens to assign them to?

The answer is obvious: As a parent, Obama knows that school choice does work. And studies show it especially works for low-income families, not only expanding precious educational opportunities for children in failing schools but also boosting performance of low-performing public schools by forcing them to compete for students and dollars.

Obama claims to support public charter schools, which are abundant in the nation's capital. But Obama's actions prove that sometimes public school options just aren't, as his spokesperson put it, the "best fit" for particular children.

Obama also charged that school choice results in a "huge drain of resources out of the public schools." By their choice, the Obamas will "drain" between $200,000 and $400,000 from the D.C. public schools if they occupy the White House for eight years. But the Obamas concluded that their kids, not the system, should come first, and of course they're right.

Rep. Polly Williams, the Wisconsin legislator who gave birth to the Milwaukee school choice program, once quipped that the president "shouldn't be the only person who lives in public housing who gets to send his kids to private schools." No one should begrudge the Obamas their choice. But nor should the president deny such choices to children in D.C. and elsewhere who desperately need them.

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

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