Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama hates poor people.

In early March, the NEA sent a letter to President Obama stating the following:
We are now concerned about an ongoing threat to public education in the District of Columbia and hope that you will use your voice to help eliminate this threat. Specifically, we urge you to call on Congress to end the District of Columbia pilot voucher program as scheduled this year and to oppose any efforts to extend this ineffective program.
A threat? Really?

Well it turns out, despite a report from the US Department of Education stating the program's success, and despite Obama's Secretary of Education supporting the DC Voucher system, the President still wants to bow down to the NEA in a fashion that would make the Saudi King blush.

Obama hates poor people. Really. He does. If you don't believe it then the only other option is that the NEA controls his education policy. There is just no better way to describe this:
Officials who manage the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program sent letters this week to parents notifying them that the scholarships of up to $7,500, were being rescinded because of the decision by the Education Department. Citing the political uncertainty surrounding vouchers, a spokesperson for Mr. Duncan told us that it is not in the best interest of students and their parents to enroll them in a program that may end a year from now. Congress conditioned funding beyond the 2009-10 school year on reauthorization by Congress and approval by the D.C. Council. By presuming the program dead -- and make no mistake, that's the insidious effect of his bar on new enrollment -- Mr. Duncan makes it even more difficult for the program to get the fair hearing it deserves.

That's not to mention the impact of the last-minute decision on these families. Many of the public charter schools already have cut off enrollments for the upcoming school year; the deadline for out-of-boundary transfers for the public schools has passed. No doubt Mr. Duncan is right about possible disruption for new students if the program were to end. But scholarship officials have been upfront with parents about the risks, and the decision really should be theirs. Let them decide whether they want to chance at least one year in a high-quality private school versus the crapshoot of D.C. public schools.
Taking scholarships away from kids even though they have another year to use them? Seriously?

For posterity's sake, let's briefly go over the main reasons the NEA uses to support being rid of the DC School Choice program.
  • A 2007 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found pervasive administrative and accountability problems.
This report came after the first year of the program when they were first getting established. Any new program would have the same issues.
  • The program supports private schools that do not charge tuition and schools that use unqualified teachers - some do not have even bachelor's degrees.
These are private schools. They are allowed to have anyone who they want as teachers. Thus, private schools. What matters are the results these private schools provide, and that is addressed in the following bullet.
  • In 2008, a study by the Department of Education found that students in the D.C. voucher program generally did no better on reading and math tests after two years than their public school peers.
See the link above that provides a more recent report from the Department of Education that shows superior successes among students in the School Choice program relative to the DC public school system participants.

Make no mistake -- if Obama wanted to keep this unquestionably successful and inexpensive program, he could use his influence in Congress to ensure it continues. But he isn't.

America, is this the change you've been looking for?


  1. Is this really a shock to anyone? Obama owes his presidency to unions such as the NEA, and isn't going to do anything to piss them off. DC spends more per capita on students than most any other ISD in the country and it is like going to prison for these poor kids.

    Such a shame, my prayers go out to these kids and families that want to stay out of the public schools. However, I bet over 95% of their families voted for the teleprompter....they just need to look in the mirror and they'll see part of the problem.

  2. I am so sick for these families. I work in DC and have had the great blessing to have met some of these amazing children and parents, and there is no argument in the world that could convince me to tell a poor mother of three - who only wants the best for her boy - that she has to send him back to the same public school where he was bullied and unchallenged.

    Something tells me that neither President Obama nor Secretary Duncan have spent any real time with these families, much less the children.

    President Obama attended an elite school in Hawaii on scholarship, himself a product of a low-income, single mother. How can he deny his own neighbors that same kind of hope and opportunity?



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