The ex-mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, was asked why he did not have his own kids in public school despite his strong advocacy of public education. Villaraigosa, whose wife was a public school teacher, said, "I'm doing like every parent does. I'm going to put my kids in the best school I can. My kids were in a neighborhood public school until just this year. We've decided to put them in a Catholic school. We've done that because we want our kids to have the best education they can. If I can get that education in a public school, I'll do it, but I won't (SET ITAL)sacrifice(END ITAL) (emphasis added) my children any more than I could ask you to do the same."
When he got elected president, Barack Obama and his wife made a big display of looking into D.C. public schools for his two daughters to attend. But the Obamas chose Sidwell Friends, the elite private school whose alums include Chelsea Clinton. Obama's own mother sent the then-10-year-old to live with her parents -- so he could attend Punahou Academy, the most exclusive prep school on the island. In fact, from Punahou to Occidental (a private college in Los Angeles) to Columbia (where he completed college) to Harvard Law, Obama is a product of private education.
So how does this square with Obama's opposition to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that offered a voucher for the children of participating parents? It doesn't.
Here's what Obama's Office of Management and Budget said about the program: "Rigorous evaluation over several years demonstrates that the D.C. program has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C."
Tell that to the educator/consultant the Department of Education hired to evaluate the program. Testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Patrick Wolf, a University of Arkansas education policy professor who spent more than 10 years evaluating school choice programs in D.C., Milwaukee, New York and Dayton, Ohio, said, "In my opinion, by ... boosting high school graduation rates and generating a wealth of evidence suggesting that students also benefited in reading achievement, the D.C. OSP has accomplished what few educational interventions can claim: It markedly improved important education outcomes for low-income inner-city students."
President Barack Obama calls education "the civil rights issue of our time." Yet, his opposition to K-12 education vouchers guarantees that many of America's kids will sit in back of the bus.