Dems for choice — for themselves

Most Democratic would-be presidents choose private schools for their own children, but don’t want low-income parents to have that choice, writes Clint Bolick of Alliance for School Choice.

Hillary and Bill Clinton sent Chelsea to Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

John Edwards, Mr. Populist, decries that “America has two school systems — one for the affluent and one for everyone else.” He should know. When he joined the U.S. Senate he sent his children to a religious school because, according to USA Today, the D.C. “public schools are deeply troubled.” Mr. Edwards, however, opposes private school choice for low-income families on the curious grounds that this would “drain resources” from public schools. By such logic Mr. Edwards himself “drained” approximately $132,000 from the D.C. public schools.

Al Gore, who may yet join the presidential race, has said empathetically, “If I was a parent of a child who went to an inner-city school that was failing, I might be for vouchers, too.” But he isn’t, and so he is not. Mr. Gore sent all of his children to elite private schools in the nation’s capital, like the one he attended growing up. But he militantly opposes school choice for low-income families.

Sen. Joe Biden also sent his children to private school, but he supports school choice for others. Sen. Barack Obama sends his daughters to the University of Chicago Lab School and once referred to school vouchers as “social Darwinism.”

Still, he says that on education reform, “I think a good place to start would be for both Democrats and Republicans to say . . . we are willing to experiment and invest in anything that works.”

That would be nice.

George W. Bush’s daughters went to public school in Austin.

Via Constrained Vision.

Update: Edspresso awards the Scarlet H for hypocrisy to politicians who want to keep other people’s children in public schools that aren’t good enough for their own children. Joe Williams of Chalkboard disagrees. In my days as an editorial writer, I sometimes interviewed school board candidates who were sending their kids to private school. They usually said they wanted to improve the public schools so they could send their children there.

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Comments

  1. Given the excreable quality of D.C. schools I can’t blame anyone with an option choosing to send their kids elsewhere and hypocrisy’s too widely-practiced a sin to be a basis for political power, the more so when it occurs where our representatives congregate.

    The real political dynamite is in making school choice a national issue.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Governor Earl Warren initiated busing when he sent his children, while the Governor’s Mansion was in the Washington Elementary, Sutter Junior High and Sacramento High attendence areas, to the upscale William Land Park area schools so they would not have to go to school with Mexicans.

  3. If George W. Bush’s daughters lived in DC instead of Austin, I’m sure he would have sent them to private school as well. That doesn’t make the Democrats mentioned less hypocritical, but let’s not praise a man for sending his daughters to a public schools in a city known for a great quality of life and excellent public schools.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    Craig,

    When Al Gore was a senator, he lived in Arlington, Virginia with good public schools and he still sent his children to National Catherdal, St Albans, and Sidwell Friends.

    Also, many of the Democratic congressmen who live in Montgomery County still send their children to Georgetown Prep or the Landon School.

    The same story was told during municiple elections in NYC where no Democratic candidates was sending their children to public schools.

  5. greifer says:

    I doubt that the Secret Service should be letting POTUS’ or VPOTUS’ kids go to public school anywhere. The security implications alone veto the idea. Education has nothing to do with it.

    That said, the fact that you can’t secure a school obviously indicates why educational priorities aren’t met in educational systems. and if you can’t meet educational priorities in educational systems, where will you meet them?

  6. wayne martin says:

    There are many reasons for sending your kids to private schools. For the political class, the premise of creating “family presence” at a prestigious private school, with the associated benefits of having your children educated with the other “elites” has immense benefit. Certainly having your name listed with the other parents helps “elites” to make friends in that “class”, so that at some future time the “glue” of politics will have been set and political alliances can be more easily established—for both the parents and the children.

    The “political class” are intelligent enough to know that education is tied to money and power. Once you’ve acquired this trappings of success, why risk allowing the next generation to dissipate your hard work by going to a public school where none of the less obvious “tools for success” can be found.

    There is also the issue of the safety of your children. While the random violence that occurs in public schools (particularly in DC) may not necessarily mean that politicians’ children would become the victim of such violence, the possibility of students deciding to become hostile to the children of unpopular politicians is all-too-real a threat. I would guess that Public School Administrators are all of glad to have politicians’ kids in private schools.

    There are also theme schools which attract people with money. One of my friends had a daughter who loved skiing. They sent her to a “skiing high school” where the mom said the students “lived, ate and breathed” skiing. In the end, the girl become disenchanted with the idea of becoming an Olympic skier, and has become a nurse instead (at the cost of over 80,000 for this four-year course of instruction.)

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Of course, there is always the alternative of maintaining discpline so that all children are safe.

  8. greifer,

    Amy Carter attended a public DC school while her father was President. I cannot remember the name of the school. It was considered a good school attended by the children of diplomats as well as the children of other parents with prestige.

  9. gbl3,

    When Carter was president, DC was a VERY different place, the school system especially so. More to the point, Carter’s kid went to school in Ward 3, which is in DC only by the loosest of definition.

    With that said, his decision to practice what he preached was probably the ONLY think he ever said or did that I approved of.

  10. Scott,

    I agree that the school system was much better then, but there was a real terrorist threat then too.

  11. greifer says:

    carter didn’t act like he thought so in his role as c-in-c, why would he as a father?

  12. When Edwards pays $132,000 for his kids to go to a better, private school, it doesn’t come out of the government’s pocket. It comes out of his. Vouchers are drawn from the same pot as the public schools cash, therefore creating the conflict. And it’s not hypocritical for any person to both support the school system by attempting to fund it better while still recognizing its inadequacies enough to send a child somewhere else.

  13. BadaBing says:

    Okay, so there are legitimate reasons for political elites to send their kids to private schools while dumping on school vouchers, but I still think it’s part and parcel of their arrogant attitude toward the hoi polloi. Our wonderful US Senator Diane Feinstein here in the Rebulik of Kalifornia totes a handbag with a firearm, but continually votes for more and more gun legislation, thus making it harder and harder for law-abiding citizens to arm and defend themselves from thugs and predators.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    BadaBing,

    I think one of the results of the elite all attending the same type of private school is that they develop group think. Look at the career choices of the children of the elite.

    The children of Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Edwards all went into the media. My guess is that St Albans is good at turning out lawyers, physicians,magazine editors, and screen writers but does not turn out any industrialist, engineers, scientist, or entrepueners.

  15. I think the issue here is NOT that sending kids to private schools is bad. No one thinks that.

    The issue here is sending YOUR kids to private schools is bad if you don’t allow OTHERS (read the poor) the same option (through vouchers).

    For those politicians that oppose school vouchers (choice), they are denying others the choice to send their kids to better schools. That sucks.

    I think that objecting to this practice is legitimate and this hipocracy should be aired.

  16. How about vouchers for health care?
    Why not let the poor go to the Mayo Clinic with vouchers?

    Would that force the county hospitals to improve?

  17. I don’t think health care a public education are comparable. Right now, we do have socialized education (taxes pay for education for all), but we do not have socialized healthcare (thank goodness!).

    Let’s not hijack this thread and discuss healthcare. This thread is about hipocracy of those who want school choice for themselves, but do not want it for others.

  18. ns, I apologize for bringing up health care. I certainly did not mean to debate socialized medicine, and you are correct that health care is not exactly comparable to education. But in one respect I think it is a relevant parallel:

    If you are rich, you can afford to get the best medical care available and if not then such care is not likely. You are right, though, that everyone’s children are entitled to a free education through grade 12 while free health care, such as it is, is only available to the poor.

    The point to which I was hinting — not very effectively, I’m afraid — is being able to afford school choice (with their own wealth) doesn’t, in itself, make them hypocrites for not wanting to spend public money to provide such choice for everyone.

  19. wayne martin says:

    > The point to which I was hinting — not very effectively,
    > I’m afraid — is being able to afford school choice (with
    > their own wealth) doesn’t, in itself, make them hypocrites
    > for not wanting to spend public money to provide such choice
    > for everyone.

    The topic of the thread was that Democratic Party politicians (presidential hopefuls) were sending their kids to private school while (typically) voting against vouchers for the rest of us. This does make them hypocrites (until you look at the Union contributions to their campaigns).

  20. >The topic of the thread was that Democratic Party politicians >(presidential hopefuls) were sending their kids to private school while >(typically) voting against vouchers for the rest of us. This does make >them hypocrites (until you look at the Union contributions to their >campaigns).

    Were these Democratic Party politicians using vouchers to send their kids to private schools?

  21. wayne martin says:

    > Most Democratic would-be presidents choose private schools
    > for their own children, but don’t want low-income parents to
    > have that choice, writes Clint Bolick of Alliance for School Choice.

    According to the opening line of this Posting.

  22. Yes, I know.
    I read that too.

    It is a fact that is neither surprising nor meaningful.
    It is a non-issue.

    Turning this fact into an accusation employs a leap of relevence that undermines its own logic.

    People who can afford to often send their children to private school.
    People running for president these days are affluent (at least those who belong to one of the two major parties, that is)
    Are they to decide public policy based upon how they raise their children?
    Are they to raise their children in accordance with their voting records?

    Your criticism of their anti-voucher voting — that it might very likely have been bought by special interest money — is a valid one.

  23. wayne martin says:

    > It is a non-issue.

    Yes, it is.

    > Are they to decide public policy based upon how
    > they raise their children?
    > Are they to raise their children in
    > accordance with their voting records?

    Not certain what to make out of this. However, in a republic, leaders are elected. The voters have to make their decisions based on some criteria. We can only hope and pray that the voters are looking at the way people have lived their lives, where they have sent their kids to school, whether they served in the military or not, how successful the candidates have been in their private lives as meaningful inputs into the decision leading up to casting their votes. For re-election, certainly voting records are probably the most important input–short of the incumbent being involved in some criminal act.

    If they are not willing to send their kids to a public school–then perhaps making public policy so that the schools might become good enough that they would want their kids educated in the Public School system would be the politician’s choice.

    So I say Yes to both of the questions.

  24. Obama Mama cracks me up. Social Darwinism…really? I think survival of the fittest is a good thing when it comes to educating our kids, might be just me though. Actually, wait, I want the sick, limping and on the verge of extinction school educating my children and I would also like any school that makes that school look bad to just chill out please. Thanks!

    Joeprah.com

  25. greifer says:

    —And it’s not hypocritical for any person to both support the school system by attempting to fund it better while still recognizing its inadequacies enough to send a child somewhere else

    yes, they support THE SYSTEM. but I’m not interested in them supporting THE SYSTEM. I want them to support THE KIDS STUCK in the system.

  26. I blogged this here.

  27. There are two big differences between health care and schools in regards to how they are funded and the relative quality. One is that most health care expenses are tax deductible. Someone who is paying more than usual for health care is probably not also paying for other people’s health care through their taxes – quite unlike anyone who takes their kids out of the public schools.

    Second, the quality differences are not nearly as pronounced. Bill Gates can spend 10 times as much for a doctor, and probably doesn’t have to spend hours in the waiting room, but except for some rare conditions and overpriced treatments of unproven effectiveness, he’ll still get the same treatment as a patient on Medicaid. OTOH, the worst schools fail to keep the majority of their students at anywhere near grade level, while the best private ones can even teach a low achiever enough to get through Yale, and to have the basic requirements covered if they get ambitious many years later. (Example: George W Bush.) A doctor or hospital that performed anywhere near as badly as many big city schools would soon lose their license, and might be jailed. Public schools that fail get to scream for more money…

  28. Larry Strauss,

    you said:
    ————-
    being able to afford school choice (with their own wealth) doesn’t, in itself, make them hypocrites for not wanting to spend public money to provide such choice for everyone.
    ————-

    The problem I see is that, if it cost $1000 to educate a kid in public school and $1200 to educate in private school (hypothetical), then why can’t I get a $1000 voucher so I can just pay the extra $200 to send my kid to private school? If my kid is not attending your school, why do you need the money to educate a child that is NOT THERE?

    If vouchers were allowed, because of the AWFUL state of public schools, there will be a vast outflow of people, and the teachers in those failing public schools will no longer have children to teach – thus, no jobs. And what you will see happen is a privatization of education.

    I, for one, believe in competitive markets. Education is like any other business. If you give me a bad product, you DESERVE to go out of business! Which is exactly what vouchers will do to the failing public schools. And I say, bravo, it’s about time!

    The poor should not be forced to be stuck in the same failing school, year after year, just because they are poor! They should be allowed the same choice as these Hypocritical politicians! (notice I said CHOICE, freedom of opportunity, not results!)

  29. Yes, NS, I understand the argument for vouchers, which is a logical and reasonable one.

    And I am certainly a proponent of providing the best education for all children, particularly those whose families have low incomes. I happen to work at an inner-city HS that is one of the very few NOT failing its students in South Central Los Angeles and am enraged by the stories I hear from students who transfer in from other schools.

    The fact that people with money have choices that people without money do not is a matter of fact that isn’t likely to ever change — particularly under the “competitive market” system to which you refer. Rich criminals get to choose their lawyers, etc.

    Incidentally, it seems to me that a voucher system which subsides only part of tuition will help the middle class more than the poor who might not be able to afford to pay anything toward their child’s education, but there is certainly nothing wrong with helping the middle class (myself included).

    If a school superintendent claimed that the schools over which he had authority were great but sent his kids to private school then, yes, that would be hypocrisy. But, really, I don’t know why I’m bothering to argue this point — those politicians are probably hypocritical in plenty of other ways.