I guess being president means you get to say whatever you want. Now let’s be clear: Most of the big-people politics goes over my head, and I don’t bother to get into all that. But when the leader of the free world chimes in on school choice, it can’t help but capture my attention.
Asked by Mr. O’Reilly why he opposed school vouchers that “level the playing field” and “give poor people a chance to go to better schools,” the president replied, “Actually, every study that’s been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has very limited impact if any.”
Riley does a capable job challenging the Chief Executive’s assertion, first by pointing readers to the great compilation of gold-standard research studies provided by the Friedman Foundation. We have nearly unanimous research results in favor of school choice’s positive learning impacts — especially for low-income students.
In June 2010, Obama’s own Department of Education released an evaluation of the Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which found participation significantly increased the chances a student would graduate from high school. Maybe that qualifies as a “very limited impact” when you are Commander-in-Chief.
Now, to be fair, the President of the United States isn’t the only person who has mischaracterized the evidence on private school choice. But when you have a position that important, the consequences are that much more profound. The truth is still getting its boots on.
Riley has a harsh assessment of Obama’s motives. How accurate that assessment is, I can’t say for sure. But it would be wonderful to hear our 44th president issue a full clarification of what the research actually says about school choice.