Adrian Fenty’s Pickle
DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is under criticism for sending his two children to private school, while simultaneously staking his political future on taking control of and fixing the mess that is the DC public school system. Some parents are petitioning that he enroll his children in public school. Some of you may remember Paris Glendenning endured similar criticism when he enrolled his son at my alma mater DeMatha, instead of sending him to public school. Fenty’s goal of reforming the DC school system will be an uphill battle. He will have to take on the entrenched bureaucracy and the teachers unions who will fight him tooth and nail. Already, new school chancellor Michelle Rhee wants to fire ineffective bureaucrats, without reassigning them to a lower ranking position at the same salary, as union contracts stipulate. The unions are fighting back Metropolitan AFL- CIO chief Joslyn Williams said, “This is a question of political will and political power.” Should Fenty and Rhee prevail and institute some sort of meaningful reform, they will both feel repercussions from the educrat unions come the next election.
Fenty’s pickle is in fact a good argument for school choice and vouchers. Paul Jacob over at Townhall.com tackles the question of whether or not Fenty is a hypocrite for keeping his kids in private school. Jacob’s answer is that, he may be a hypocrite, but more importantly, Fenty’s choice indicates that he is a good father for choosing to put his children in private school to give them the best education they can receive.
DC is already one year into a federally funded voucher program. However, a hostile Democrat majority in Congress is crowing like harpies about a DOE report showing no significant difference in math and reading scores between the voucher students and public school students, even though the data covers only the first seven months during student transitions to private schools. Look for the Democrats, led by DC’s own Eleanor Holmes Norton to kill the program when it comes up for renewal.
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Fenty knows that the school system he runs is terrible, despite the fact that DC spends over $13,000 per student. Fortunately, he has the means to exercise choice to send his children to private school. Others in DC, as in other large cities (i.e. Baltimore) do not have this choice, because government owns a monopoly on schools. They have no choice but to send their children to failing government schools. I propose this. Instead of parents petitioning their elected leaders to send their children to public school, let us flip that equation around and petition our elected leaders to provide all parents the means to choose to send their children to best school possible. Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman accurately noted that government is good at writing checks, but bad at providing services. We should take his advice.