Another week, another batch of teachers union officials lobbying against school choice while sending their own children to private schools.
Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates and Illinois Education Association official Sean Denney send their kids to private schools while devoting their time to fighting against poorer parents’ rights to send their children to similar schools.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Gates and Denney join a long line of hypocrites who live the “school choice for me, but not for thee” lifestyle.
“School choice” is the principle that families, not the government, should decide where their children go to school. It encompasses a wide range of options, from providing parents vouchers for private and charter school tuition to accessing “education savings accounts” for tuition, education materials, and special needs testing.
In practice, school choice allows parents to direct the education tax dollars already spent on their children instead of requiring the money to be spent at an assigned public school based on the parents’ ZIP code.
Advocates for school choice suggest that the primary benefits of “funding students [directly], not systems” include fostering competition among schools, improving academic performance, and providing access to quality education for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Progressives often lambast the practice—suggesting that allowing parents to choose which schools their children and money go to will drain and destroy public schools.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency in May after the state Legislature passed additional measures to expand school choice in North Carolina.
Cooper claimed the Legislature was trying to “tear our public schools down” by allowing parents to choose where education tax dollars allocated for their children went.
Ironically, Cooper sent his children to a private school because the governor preferred that option over a public school. Unlike many North Carolina residents who are poorer than he, Cooper could afford to send his children where he wished—and so he did.
President Joe Biden, while still a candidate for that office, also warned that voucher programs and school choice measures would defund public schools.
Writing on Twitter in January 2020, Biden claimed: “When we divert public funds to private schools, we undermine the entire public education system. We’ve got to prioritize investing in our public schools, so every kid in America gets a fair shot. That’s why I oppose vouchers.”
Biden didn’t practice this “investment” in his private life, however, sending both of his sons to the private Archmere Academy, a Roman Catholic college preparatory school in Claymount, Delaware.
Other elected Democrats who sent their children to private schools while speaking out against school choice include former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. A host of state legislators also do so.
There are so many hypocritical elected officials, business executives, and union officials in this category that the Education Freedom Institute created an interactive map to catalog the rapidly growing list of those taking advantage of privileges their constituents cannot.
Why go to the trouble of fighting so desperately against school choice if you’re sending your children to school choice options anyway?
Recent polls indicate overwhelming support of additional school choice options among all major political parties and demographics.
A poll from RealClear Opinion Research found a 9% increase in support for school choice among Democrats, to 59%, since April 2020. Republicans’ support for school choice rose by 7% for a total of 75% in the same poll, and independents by 7% for a total of 67%.
The poll also found that 72% of white voters, 70% of black voters, 66% of Asian voters, and 77% of Hispanic voters said they support school choice.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, claims that the union’s fight against school choice keeps public schools from closing and prevents America from returning to racial segregation.
In Chicago, Gates went so far as to call private schools “fascist,” though the teachers union president has no problem sending her kids to one.
Broader union positions over the past few decades claimed simultaneously that school choice options would result in the abandonment and closing of public schools while asking state and federal legislators to drastically increase funding for declining public schools.
An analysis on the fourth-grade level would note that if public schools were such a great option, parents wouldn’t pull their children from those schools if given a choice. Additionally, public schools that have received drastic funding increases over the past decade have seen only greater academic decline and more parents pulling out their kids anyway (often at great personal cost).
Although Gates argues that private schools are racist and fascist, her own Chicago Public Schools is a school district that boasts a 17% literacy rate for Hispanic students and an 11% literacy rate for black students in 2021.
Anti-choice activists openly argue that if parents want to send their children to private, charter, or microschools, they should pay the additional cost—therefore funding both the local public school and the school parents want to send their children to.
I don’t have an issue with teachers union officials and Democrat politicians sending their children to private schools. Parents should have the right to send their children to a school that best suits the values and needs of that family.
The problem rests in the hypocrisy of the situation. Few things come across worse than the Marie Antoinette look.
Forcing families to funnel their money into failing public schools while your children go to better schools of your choice fosters resentment. If you really believe public schools are the best option to the point of advocating against other options, your children better be attending those public schools.
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Author: Tony Kinnett
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