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
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.