- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Question: What happens when the president of the United States, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the overwhelming majority of voters in the nation’s capital share the same political affiliation?

Answer: The lead jackass ignores the policy wishes of said mayor and voters, and treats the capital like a political slave.

President Obama does not like programs that allow public funds to be used for vouchers for school-age kids. He supports public funds for college-age students. He supports public funds for prison schooling and for returning citizens. He supports public funds for military basic training, where young men and women learn academic and managerial-type skills — and partake in a physical education program — that they never learned in K-12.

I could write ad nauseam about the various federal voucher programs tied to the GI Bill and publicly funded IOUs for programs such as Medicaid and Medicare that not all individual taxpayers get to cash in.

Similarly, education spending pours out of coffers.

Not all Americans have children, let alone school-age children. Yet every year the president proposes how, where and when our tax dollars will be spent on education.

Blessedly, the president proposes and Congress disposes — that is to say, Mr. Obama excludes funding for the D.C. voucher program, and the House provides it.

Thousands of low-income children, who through absolutely no fault of their own, are destitute, trapped in underserved schools in underserved neighborhoods, have benefited and are benefiting from the vouchers. All the while, local and federal spending on traditional schooling ticks upward.

Sometimes I think school choice opponents and pretenders don’t get it.

By way of a perfect example, Mr. Obama said a couple of years back: “Some charters — some charters are doing great. Some Catholic schools do a great job, but what we have to do is make sure every child ” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly cut off the president at that point. Mr. O’Reilly and other proponents of choice can fill in the blank — “every child gets a quality education.”

School choice supporters generally agree. They just believe the traditional options are not giving their children and the children of others a quality education. So they look elsewhere.

The president needs to tear down his self-built voucher wall.

The message that needs to be sent to Mr. Obama is that vouchers were not and are not intended to improve or reform public schools. Vouchers were and are intended to improve academic outcomes for children, including special needs children.

The parents of these children choose to do as the Obamas did and send their children to private school. Or Catholic school. Or Seventh-day Adventist school. Or, if they’re in, say, Indiana, use a voucher to home-school.

It’s disappointing that Mr. Obama professes to be supportive of self-governance for D.C. when, in reality, he’s nothing more than an overseer. The mayor and the city council seek appropriations for the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results Scholarship program, the third tier of the District’s K-12 system. (Traditional and charter schools are the others.)

The popularity of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is undeniable: This school year alone, 3,246 students applied for vouchers, 1,679 were returning students, 1,567 were new applicants and 285 kids won spanking new vouchers.

That’s 285 students not stuck in a questionable public school system and 1,679 students whose families said they like things just the way they are, thank you very much.

Again, these families chose the Obama route, but they are not wealthy or middle-class. In fact, most receive welfare and/or food stamps.

These families will still be here when the moving trucks back up to the White House in January, and nobody knows what Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or John Kasich or Bernard Sanders or even Hillary Clinton will do once they get in the White House. What we do know is that D.C. Public Schools will not the beacon of education it once was and that the Obamas are going to stay put on behalf of their youngest girl.

The least the president can do is back his D.C. brethren and for once slam dunk something other than a basketball while he’s still in office.

Children are watching, whether Mr. Obama knows it or not.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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