Sunday, November 23, 2008

Barack Obama: School choice hypocrite

Like the Clintons before them, the Obamas prove to be school choice hypocrites, favoring school choice for wealthy people like themselves but favoring underperforming public school monopolies for the poor and middle class:
The Associated Press is reporting that the Obamas have chosen the Sidwell Friends School in Washington for daughters Sasha, seven years old, and Malia, 10. The private Quaker school’s alumni include former presidential offspring Chelsea Clinton and Tricia Nixon Cox, as well as a former princess of Japan.

Sidwell Friends beat out another elite school, Georgetown Day School. Michelle Obama and her daughters reportedly visited both schools on Tuesday. Sidwell, with campuses in Northwest Washington and Bethesda, Md., is home to nearly 1,100 students from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. Tuition at the lower school is $28,442 and $29,442 at the middle and upper schools.

A spokeswoman for Michelle Obama was quoted by AP as saying the Obamas feel Sidwell provides “the best fit for what their daughters need now,” including being able to accommodate security and privacy concerns. The Obama girls have also become good friends with Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s grandchildren, who attend the school.

The Obama family also discussed public school options for the girls, according to Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty. The girls currently attend the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools located in Chicago’s South Side.
Cato @ Liberty points out the hypocrisy:
A few months ago, Barack Obama told a gathering of the American Federation of Teachers that he opposes private school choice programs, adding: “We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools; not throwing our hands up and walking away from them.”

It’s not clear whether or not the president-elect will be able to fix our public schools, and I don’t know if he’s thrown up his hands, but he and his two daughters have just walked away from the public schools. Again. When they move from Chicago to D.C., Malia and Sasha Obama will be moving from the prestigious private Lab School to the prestigious private Sidwell Friends school — Chelsea Clinton’s old stomping ground.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, it’s wonderful that the Obamas had such a broad range of public and private school choices available to them. What’s puzzling is that the president-elect opposes programs that would bring that same easy choice of schools within reach of families who lack his personal wealth.
The reason one should favor school choice is that our public school system is a monopoly and monopolies tend to be inefficient. Competition forces institutions to improve or die. Monopoly allows them to stagnate.

America's colleges have to compete with each other, so it is not surprising that our college system is widely considered the best in the world. Our local public school monopolies face almost no competition, so it should not be surprising that America's public school students generally rank quite low on international tests.

With regards to different standards for the rich and powerful, Barack Obama is not change we can believe in. Instead, he's just more of the same.


  1. Come on now. You really don't expect any president to send their kids to a public school simply because of the higher security risks. Obama needs to be working on the problems of the day and not worrying about his kids being safe.

  2. George,

    The point is Obama opposes vouchers.

  3. Obama was sending his kids to private school long before he was elected president. President Jimmy Carter sent his daughter to DC public school. Take those facts together and I say the whole "security risks" excuse is a crock.

    It's Washington, DC for crying out loud! The public schools should should be made to accommodate the security needs of politicians and diplomats! —Except, I bet very few politicians and diplomats send their kids to public schools anywhere.

    Also, don't forget that Barack Obama himself attended a private school in Hawaii.