- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Rev. Al Sharpton might be the kind of guy who bites his tongue. However, we have yet to see proof — and that’s why he’s example No. 1 for advocating school choice.

“We are discussing education like it is an option. It is not an option. You can’t deal with the economy without dealing with education.”

Joseph R. Biden, who twice strode alongside Barack Obama to win the White House and now is in a comfortable pace in the 2020 race, seems to have forgotten Mr. Sharpton’s 2009 warning about education not being an option.

Mr. Biden seems to have forgotten that he used to support school choice in general and charter schools in particular. In fact, one of his younger brothers, Frank, is a former executive in a company that developed charter schools.

And then there’s this, which Mr. Biden said in a Senate speech in 1997: “When you have an area of the country — and most often here we are talking about inner cities — where the public schools are abysmal or dysfunctional or not working and where most of the children have no way out, it is legitimate to ask what would happen to the public schools with increased competition from private schools.”

“Is it not possible that giving poor kids a way out will force the public schools to improve and result in more people coming back?” the then-senator asked.

Contrast that with this, which he said in a campaign event: “I do not support any federal money … for for-profit charter schools — period. … The bottom line is it siphons off money from public schools, which are already in enough trouble.”

Mr. Biden also seems to forget that the money is not for the schools; it’s for the students.

More recently, Mr. Biden threw the whole lot under his new school bus, vowing “the point is, if I’m president, [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos’ whole notion from charter schools to this are gone.”


Ignore the fact that he took jabs at Mrs. DeVos, who isn’t even in the ring with him (and the fact that she’s, well, a woman).

Also, look at Uncle Joe’s school bus, which doesn’t take poor kids to school because he’s stopped federal tax dollars. And no federal dollars means no local dollars. And no local dollars means fewer schoolhouses.

Mr. Biden just can’t seem to keep up and get with the school choice program, even though he helped to write it.

Charter schools are the most popular option for average parents for several reasons, chief among them that charters are neighborhood schools, charters encourage and urge parental involvement, and charters are innovative.

Fortunately, traditional public school systems have caught on, finally yielding to the “competition” pressure of the choice movement.

Unfortunately, Mr. Biden wants to drive American school kids off the road toward a better life — a road to jobs, a career and the American dream.

Perhaps he needs to have a one-on-one with Mr. Sharpton, who spoke truth to power when he said that education is not an option because “You can’t deal with the economy without dealing with education.”

Funding for charter schools and public vouchers benefit students — not school buildings.

If Mr. Biden doesn’t understand as much as a Democrat, then, fellow voters, we have a problem.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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