Choice Words From Biden

“I think every kid, in every zip code, in every state should have access to every education opportunity possible. I guess, for some, that isn’t the consensus view.” That was Joe Biden, criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, seemingly unaware that he was making a strong case for parental choice in education. 

“Every education opportunity possible” includes the programs such as the G.I. Bill, which funds the scholar, who then chooses the school he or she wants. Under the G.I. Bill, scholars can choose UCLA, Brigham Young University, USC, Florida State or Notre Dame, and so on. That kind of opportunity does not exist for every K-12 kid in every state. In zip-codes such as the nation’s capital, government schools are dysfunctional and dangerous.

Low-income parents can’t afford the prestigious Sidwell Friends School, the choice of presidents Carter and Obama. The best alternative is the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships Program, run by Congress. For the 2022-23 school year, the program awards scholarships up to $15,307 for high school and $10,204 for elementary and middle school. Parents can use this money for tuition, uniforms, books, and other school-related fees, at the independent school of their choice. 

Parents and students love the program, but education bureaucrats hate it. Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan took it to a whole new level. The former Chicago Schools boss rescinded scholarships to the D.C. Opportunity program that had already been granted. The deprived families were virtually all black. As the Washington Post said in a 2009 editorial, “nine out of 10 students who were shut out of the scholarship program this year are assigned to attend failing public schools.” 

If that disturbed vice president Joe Biden, he failed to speak out. In his long political career, the Delaware Democrat has never supported the idea that every kid in every zip code in every state should have every educational opportunity. The kids don’t because the right to choose has been taken away, just as Arne Duncan rescinded scholarships already granted. If students and their parents thought that was racist, it would be hard to blame them, but Duncan remained on the job from 2009 to 2016. 

The government monopoly K-12 system is a vast collective farm of mediocrity and failure. Countless students are captive in dysfunctional and dangerous schools in every state and zip code. Changing the status quo will require more than words. In every state, parents and policymakers must work to restore the fundamental right to choice—as a matter of basic civil rights. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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