Obama has been a reliable defender of government schools’ substandard status quo. Kevin Chavous writes:
Obama must support school choice
Young black kids deserve a chance
Long time Washington residents no doubt are familiar with the constant stream of task forces, initiatives and other important-sounding enterprises that pledge to tackle a certain issue and give it the attention it deserves. The problem, longtime Washington residents also know, is that the most effective outcomes often arise from actual, concrete policies instead of the formation of more committees to talk about the problems.
So it was a curious move by President Obama last week when, during remarks at the National Urban League conference, he announced the creation of a new initiative to improve educational outcomes for blacks.
The thing is, the president’s a bit behind on this one. That initiative already exists — it’s called school choice.
While the president’s executive order pledges to “work across Federal agencies and with partners and communities” to help improve educational outcomes for blacks, there is remarkable evidence across the country — no more so than here in the nation’s capital — that makes clear just how effective school-choice programs have been in improving the lives of black students.
Here in the District, where more than 90 percent of participants in the city’s D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program are black, youngsters are graduating at a rate of 91 percent — more than 30 points higher than the students in the city’s public schools, who also are overwhelmingly black. Youngsters who participate in the voucher program also show improved reading scores, according to a 2010 study from the Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences. Considering the president’s public statements about a desire to improve educational outcomes for our people, you’d think he would be a supporter of the voucher program, right?