“Politicians who promote public schools don’t always send their kids to them,” said ABC News journalist John Stossel in a segment of the 20/20 program broadcast on January 28, called “Public Schools for Poor Kids, Not Politicians’ Kids.”
You might think the people who fight for public schools would always send their children to those public schools, but that’s not the case, explained Stossel. As an example, he cited Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who has called public education the “cornerstone of our democracy.” Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, also declared he was “unalterably opposed to a voucher system to give people public money to take to private schools.”
Yet when the Clintons were in the White House, they sent their daughter Chelsea to an exclusive private school.
Stossel pointed out that many poor families would like to exercise the same option as the Clintons, but don’t have the money. He cited the example of Ivan Foster, who wants to get his two children out of the dangerous public schools in Camden, New Jersey, where spending is almost $15,000 per pupil. If Foster could use those education tax dollars as a voucher, he could afford to send his children to a private school.
But many politicians oppose the idea of letting education dollars follow the child to whatever school their parents choose. These anti-voucher politicians, noted Stossel, include U.S. Senators Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), all of whom have chosen private schools for their own children.
When Stossel described parents without money as being “stuck in the prison of the government monopoly,” Jackson responded by saying, “I wouldn’t call it necessarily a prison.”
Jackson also said, “No one is keeping [poor parents] locked in now. They can make decisions for themselves.”
George A. Clowes ([email protected]) is associate editor of School Reform News.
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A transcript of the January 28, 2005 John Stossel 20/20 segment is available online at http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=448934.