The ultimate anti-school choice hypocrisy?


Defenders of the public school monopoly – mostly school employees, their unions, and the system’s other direct beneficiaries – argue that government-run schools are an important institution for their role in knitting together our multicultural society. They evoke an earlier era of high immigration, when the socializing effects of public schools converted the children of huddled masses recently arrived from southern and eastern Europe into Good Americans.

Agree or not, it’s a legitimate argument, up to a point. That point arrives when a school district becomes so dysfunctional, corrupt and immune to reform that it turns poor children into victims, destroying any chance they may have to achieve the American dream by obtaining a good education.

In most of the nation’s big cities – including Washington, including Detroit – that point was passed decades ago. Ever since then, opposition to school choice has been nothing more than self-serving, reactionary protectionism, led by politically powerful school employee unions. It’s frankly and unambiguously a moral outrage, and a breeding ground for rank hypocrisy.

This is saying a mouthful, but I can’t recall a more blatant example of this hypocrisy than one cited in today’s Wall Street Journal, a quote given to another publication by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Since taking office Duncan has been serving his school union masters by doing all he can to kill a school choice program that gives 1,700 Washington, D.C. kids a $7,500 voucher.

Here’s from the Journal piece:

“Science magazine recently asked Mr. Duncan where his daughter attends school and ‘how important was the school district in your decision about where to live?’ He responded:

‘She goes to Arlington [Virginia] public schools. That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor . . . I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education’.”

Good call, Arne – I wouldn’t sacrifice my own child for some abstract principle either. But I can’t imagine anything more despicable and contemptible than your willingness to sacrifice thousands of other parents’ children, especially when your own words and actions reveal that have no illusions that you are doing anything but that.


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