TAPPER: You talked about the need to change the status quo in education today.
TAPPER: But one of the ways that proponents of school choice say that the best way to change the status quo is to give parents, inner-city parents a choice. Why not?
OBAMA: Well, the problem is, is that, you know, although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you’re going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom. We don’t have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools.
So what I’ve said is let’s foster competition within the public school system. Let’s make sure that charter schools are up and running. Let’s make sure that kids who are in failing schools, in local school districts, have an option to go to schools that are doing well.
But what I don’t want to do is to see a diminished commitment to the public schools to the point where all we have are the hardest-to-teach kids with the least involved parents with the most disabilities in the public schools. That’s going to make things worse, and we’re going to lose the commitment to public schools that I think have been so important to building this country.
TAPPER: So it would help some kids, but overall it would be bad for the system?
OBAMA: I think it would be overall bad for most kids.
John McCain ought to make this a presidential-leadership and civil-rights issue. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarships are not going to “kids at the top.” They’re saving lives. Barack Obama should be held accountable for not helping save this program. So much for hope and change, eh?