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In a recent speech on education reform by Michelle Rhee, the former head of DC public schools made an excellent point about the state of education policy today. She stated,
“It is amazing how people are all too willing to make policies that impact other people’s children that they would never accept for their own kids. That is one of our biggest problems.” This simple, yet profound, statement exemplifies so much that is wrong with today’s education system.
The anti-school choice movement continuously claims that policies to reform education cannot work. Their reasoning? According to them, no other option outside of public schools can educate your kids any better than the current public system can. They are the experts, trust in them. Take the current President who remains hostile to reform efforts, including the extremely successful DC voucher program. President Obama sings the praises of public education and is a darling of the nation’s largest teachers’ union, yet sends his own daughters to a prestigious DC private school; continuing a long tradition of hypocrisy among our Presidents. Unsatisfied with No Child Left Behind, Mr. President?
The old saying, “do as I say, not as I do” need apply here. When education reformers like Rhee and others try to point out this serial hypocrisy they are met with hostility and are demonized as “radical” and “out of touch.” Is this really the case, or is it the politicians who remain out of touch?
Take this example. Over the summer I had the opportunity to testify to the Pennsylvania House Committee on Education. During one exchange, a lawmaker mentioned his love of public school and how there is no better option. However, when asked where he sends his own children to school he replied, “A private Catholic School.” So according to his logic, what is good for us all is not good enough for his children? Politicians like to pretend they are looking out for the best interest of the public when making decisions that will affect everyone but themselves. With no skin in the game, who would blame them?
The bottom line remains that politicians are hostile to any type of education reform. The difference now is many brave politicians like Governors Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and others who are putting themselves on the line, standing against this “do as I say, not as I do” attitude that’s prevalent in modern politics. Education reform stands no chance unless we stand with these leaders and combat the hypocrisy of the opposition. So thank you Ms. Rhee, your simple words should be a rallying cry for so many of us.