Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to wade into the D.C. school choice debate. While he probably only meant to get his toes wet, a request Holder made to former D.C. city councilman Kevin Chavous at a recent event to pull a television ad in support of the Opportunity Scholarship program has made a big splash. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Chavous noted that he is friends with Holder and his wife, and didn’t see the comment as an official administration request. Nevertheless, Chavous told the Weekly Standard:
I saw [Holder] at an event…He did ask me in front of others to pull the ad. My response was, ‘No, and I tell you what, if the President does the right thing, not only will we pull it but we will celebrate him’.
The ad in question features Kevin Chavous and a young student who is one of 216 children who recently had their scholarships rescinded by the Department of Education. In the ad, Chavous discusses how President Obama is ending the scholarship program, which provides scholarships of up to $7,500 to low-income children in D.C. to attend a private school of their choice. The young student in the ad asks the President to voice his support for the scholarships.
The Weekly Standard writes:
The nation’s first black president has come under intense criticism for failing to support the program that is helping poor African-American students escape some of the nation’s most dangerous and worst-performing public schools. After embracing the teachers unions’ anti-voucher stance, the president now finds himself in the uncomfortable and awkward position of denying students access to a program that has strong bipartisan, local support, and that multiple studies say is helping poor African-American children succeed.
Instead of trying to silence the school choice community in D.C., here’s a better use of Holder’s time: watch Let Me Rise: The Struggle to Save School Choice in the Nation’s Capitol. This compelling mini-documentary will help him understand why school choice in D.C. – and the educational future of 1,700 low-income children – is so critically important.