Obama Sells Out African-American Children

A little-noted provision of the Democrats’ budget bill would kill a scholarship program in the District of Columbia that allows some children to escape from the District’s awful public schools and attend private schools, like the Obama girls. In today’s Wall Street Journal, William McGurn profiles Sarah and James Parker, who attend Sidwell Friends with Sasha and Malia Obama:

Unlike the Obama girls, they could not afford the school without the $7,500 voucher they receive from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Unfortunately, a spending bill the Senate takes up this week includes a poison pill that would kill this program — and with it perhaps the Parker children’s hopes for a Sidwell diploma. …

Deborah Parker says such a move would be devastating for her kids. …

That’s the reality that the Parkers and 1,700 other low-income students face if Sen. Durbin and his allies get their way. And it points to perhaps the most odious of double standards in American life today: the way some of our loudest champions of public education vote to keep other people’s children — mostly inner-city blacks and Latinos — trapped in schools where they’d never let their own kids set foot.

That is, indeed, one of the great scandals of American politics. But with the Democrats in the saddle in Washington, the teachers’ unions expect the escape hatch of school choice to be slammed shut, so it will be.

In today’s press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about McGurn’s article and Obama’s opposition to school choice. He was not able to muster a coherent response:

QUESTION: On education, there’s a provision in the omnibus spending bill that would sunset the D.C. voucher plan. And I’m wondering — there’s been a lot of publicity about this brother and sister pair at Sidwell who use their voucher money to — to pay for tuition at the same school the president chose to send his children. I’m wondering if you could restate the president’s opposition to the D.C. voucher plan and why he’s…
GIBBS: Yes, I — I would — let me go — I’ve not read the article today, if there was one. I think the…
QUESTION: Well, it’s just about two kids who use their voucher money to go to Sidwell. I mean…
GIBBS: Right. I mean, I think — right.
QUESTION: I mean — I mean, and they would — in other words, if they cut the voucher program, they couldn’t go there.
GIBBS: Why are you even providing me the opportunity to be the middleman? I mean, again…
QUESTION: Well, could you just restate the president’s position?
GIBBS: Well, I think the president has concerns about — concerns about taking large amounts of funding out of the system to — to address this, that the president obviously believes — and I think you’ll hear him talk about and has talked about — the need for reform in our educational system, but — but has not agreed with the program in the past. I’ll see if there’s anything to update on that.

Of course, it’s hard to answer a question when you can’t tell the truth. Gibbs couldn’t very well say that President Obama and the Democratic Party are in the bag for the teachers’ unions and don’t much care what happens to inner-city kids. Could he?

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus thinks the Obama administration may be blinking on this one, in a very limited fashion.

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