In his most recent SOTU address, President Obama called for a law that would require kids to stay in school until they’re 18. His budget includes an 11% increase in educational spending in the next year. He’s willing to mandate, and he’s willing to spend, but he’s not willing to empower Washington, DC parents to make a choice that will help their kids graduate.
Today the Washington Post gives us the bare minimum information on this issue, and frames it in a way that makes Obama’s decision to cut a program with high parent satisfaction seem innocuous. These statements bookend the article:
President Obama did not request any funding for the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program in his fiscal 2013 budget, and the program’s biggest backers on Capitol Hill want the White House to know that they took notice…Obama’s budget is strictly an advisory document, and it appears unlikely that Boehner will agree to any spending deals this year that do not fully fund the opportunity scholarships.”
He simply “did not request any funding”, and his budget is “strictly advisory” anyhow. It probably just slipped his mind, right? Besides, Boehner will make sure it gets funded anyway, so what’s the big deal?
In a letter sent to Obama on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said they were “very disappointed” by Obama’s decision, contending that the program “is a critically important part of K-12 education in the District of Columbia.”
Why only highlight the quotes that sound like my Mom when I didn’t want to do my homework? Much more relevant are the statistics Boehner and Lieberman use to make their case:
Participating families have an average income of less than $24,000 per year… 91 percent of students who used their opportunity scholarships graduated high school, which was 21 percent higher than those who applied but were not awarded a scholarship.
The president was willing to ignore the First Amendment and ignite a national firestorm to ensure that an extra 1% of Georgetown law students (Median private sector salary: $160,000) had access to birth control and abortion pills, but evidently poor black kids don’t register that high on his famous empathy scale.
The scholarship program— which gives low-income District students money for private-school tuition — has long been a priority for Boehner, an ardent supporter of the District’s Catholic schools.
Ah, so that’s what this is all about. Boehner is against the HHS ‘contraception’ mandate and for Catholic schools because the Vatican pulls his strings. But wait, how does that explain Lieberman?
Obama’s budget submission included the suggestion that there was enough unspent money left over in the scholarship program to pay for the current number of scholarships.
A government program is improving graduation rates for the poor, and doing it under budget… so we’re cutting its funding? How does that decision square with this:
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.
This certainly seems like a case of government working. But Obama delivered that quote at his first inaugural address, a political lifetime ago. Maybe his press secretary has some more recent thoughts on the matter:
You have to have severely diminished capacity to understand what drives economic growth in industrialized countries in this century if you do not understand that education is the key that unlocks the door to prosperity…
Hmmm. While I do believe that President Obama has a diminished capacity when it comes to understanding economic growth, that isn’t the case here. No, he simply has no problem locking “the door to prosperity” for poor children in DC, if it is a necessary condition for keeping unlocked the doors to the Teachers Unions campaign contributions.
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