On November 4 President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Wright Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin to discuss what the White House is calling “one of the most exciting and innovative initiatives in education reform history.” The president explained, “In some cases, people have seen schools as sort of a political spoil having to do with jobs and contracts instead of what we’re teaching kids. And this status quo has held back our children, it’s held back our economy, and it’s held back our country for too long.”
What the president plans to do, however, is neither exciting, nor innovative. Put simply, Obama-ed is simply common sense with a much a higher price tag. Basically the president explained to these Madison middle schoolers that he wants better standards, better teachers, better data to help identify the better teachers, and better schools.Nothing exciting, much less innovative, there-except for the $4 billion price tag.
If the president were really serious about reform, he would have swung by Milwaukee-home to the country’s first voucher program. The latest research finds that not only does the program help students who use vouchers; it also improves the performance of surrounding Milwaukee public schools that must now compete for students.
“The media and the education elite have made it a long-term habit to spin every piece of news that comes along as a loss for vouchers,” writes Friedman Foundation senior fellow Greg Forster. “But their ‘see no good, hear no good, speak no good’ approach to the evidence can’t change the facts.” Parents picking their children’s schools works-as the President and many members of his administration and Congress know first-hand. Parental choice in education achieves all the goals the president and others in office say they want for a fraction of the price. As President Obama himself said, “It’s time to stop just talking about education reform and start actually doing it.”
Well, Mr. President, like it or not, more American parents are doing just that every day. When will you start standing with them?