Terry Jeffrey

Only 12 percent of D.C. eighth-graders were rated grade-level "proficient" or better in reading, only 8 percent in math.

There were 59,616 students enrolled in the D.C. public schools in 2006, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If McCain's plan to increase by 2,000 the number of vouchers available in the District were enacted, taxpayers would still be spending $15,798 per student per year to send more than 55,000 kids through a school system where about nine out of 10 students do not learn to read or do math at grade-level proficiency by the time they "graduate" from elementary school.

What is Obama's plan to deal with this? Spend $18 billion more in federal tax dollars on public education (as he promised in his campaign) -- and send his own kids to extremely expensive private schools. Currently, Obama's two daughters (ages 7 and 10) attend the University of Chicago Lab School, where tuition is $18,492 for grades 1-4 and $20,286 for grades 5-8.

When Michelle Obama visited Washington this week, she toured only two prospective schools for her daughters: Sidwell Friends, where lower-school tuition is $28,442; and Georgetown Day, where tuition is $27,445 for grades 1-5.

If Barack Obama backed legislation giving all students in D.C. a voucher worth the $15,798 D.C. public schools spend per pupil, poor and middle-class families -- especially those with more than two children -- would still not be able to afford Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day. But they would be able to afford most of the other private schools in the Washington area, including almost all of the Catholic schools.

But that would contradict Obama's vision of America, a place where poor children remain trapped in public schools, rich children go to very expensive schools, and middle-class parents who work hard and struggle to send their children to religious schools that share their values and commitment to excellence must expect to pay not only for their own children's education but also escalating local and federal taxes to ill-educate their neighbor's children.

Put your children where your ideology is, Mr. President-elect. Send them to public school.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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