School Choice Advocate Raps Back

Published April 1, 2006

The school choice movement has grown accustomed to demagoguery on the issue, particularly from those who believe public education is a jobs program. But in my 17 years in the movement, I have never seen such inflammatory, reactionary, and patently inaccurate statements as those attributed to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in the accompanying article.

We now have nearly two decades of experience with school choice. We do not see white supremacy schools. We do not see jihadist schools. We do not see religious strife or rioting in the streets.

What we do see are children who never before have gotten a break who are now learning in safe environments chosen by their parents. And we see the power to choose providing a catalyst for public schools to improve. School choice is the tide that lifts all boats.

‘H for Hypocrisy’

Never was there greater testimony to the importance of school choice than Mrs. Clinton herself. When the president and Mrs. Clinton moved into the White House, they were offered something that no other resident of the nation’s capitol had: the choice of any public school for their daughter. They decided that sending their daughter to a defective school system was too great a sacrifice, and chose a private school instead.

That led Wisconsin Rep. Polly Williams (R), the sponsor of Milwaukee’s school choice program, to quip, “Bill and Hillary Clinton should not be the only people who live in public housing who get to send their kids to private schools.”

A decade later, D.C. has a plethora of choices thanks to public charter schools and a district-wide school choice program. Perhaps the Clintons would make a different choice today.

Sen. Clinton deserves a scarlet “H” for hypocrisy. I hope the many Democrats who have endorsed school choice–and others who recognize that our nation’s education crisis requires statesmanship, not irresponsible rhetoric–will condemn her comments.

Clint Bolick is president of the Alliance for School Choice, based in Phoenix, Arizona.