Outlining his educational policy yesterday, President Barack Obama said: “And I want every child in this country to have the same chance that my mother gave me, that my teachers gave me, that my college professors gave me, that America gave me.” These are wonderful words, but unless President Obama vetoes the $410 billion omnibus spending bill heading towards his desk, he will fall far short of living up to them.
Inserted into the omnibus’ 1,132 pages is language dictated to Congress by teachers’ unions killing 1,700 scholarships that enable kindergarten through 12th grade students from low-income families in the District of Columbia to attend private schools. Conservative in the Senate fought to strip the provision from the bill last night, but were defeated by the liberal majority.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was passed by Congress in January 2004 and approximately 7,200 children have applied for the 1,700 spots in the program. A 2008 Department of Education study found that after just 19 months of instruction, scholarship students realized slightly higher academic achievement than those students who applied but were not lucky enough to secure a spot in the program. A more recent University of Arkansas study has shown that parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their children’s experience in the program. Common reasons for this higher level of satisfaction included appreciation for the ability to choose their child’s school and the success their children are having in their new school environments.
President Obama and his administration are very familiar with the empowering benefits school choice brings to families struggling to educate their children. Growing up in Chicago, Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended a private school. Growing up in Hawaii, President Obama attended a private school. Growing up first in Chicago, and now in Washington, Obama’s two daughters attended and still attend private schools. In fact, two of Obama’s daughter’s classmates are able to attend Sidwell Friends thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. By signing the omnibus spending bill, Obama will be denying these children the “same chance” he had as a child.
Some in the media are portraying Obama’s speech as “tough talk on teachers” since the president said he wanted to spend additional money on “effective” teachers. But the teachers unions were in no way disappointed with what Obama actually said. National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel said: “I think people are putting words in his mouth and jumping to conclusions about what he supports.” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten added: “The devil is in the details, and it is important that teachers’ voices are heard when we implement the president’s vision.”
Well the voices of teachers unions are already being heard, and unless President Obama does something about it, those voices will cost 1,700 children the “same chance” President Obama had to school choice.
- The Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday plans to establish a nationwide system for tracking greenhouse gas emissions that would cover about 13,000 facilities.
- A “vast new left-wing conspiracy” including “officials from more than 20 labor, environmental and other Democratic-leaning groups” convene a conference call every morning hosted by Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Media Matters Action Fund.
- President Obama again broke his promise to the American people not to hire lobbyists, issuing two more waivers for formally registered lobbyists to work for his administration.
- More and more banks are rejecting help from the federal government calling the strings attached to the funds “social engineering.”
- After an undercover investigation, four officials of the pro-suicide group Final Exit Network were arrested last month on charges of racketeering and assisted suicide.