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Obama education secretary: Gee, maybe banning school choice for D.C. poor kids is a bad idea

By Michelle Malkin  •  March 5, 2009 09:15 AM

I’ve posted several times over the past week on the Democrats’ campaign to kill a federal voucher program for poor children in Washington, D.C. (see here, here, and here).

Well, lookee here. President Obama’s education secretary is feeling the heat — and now says the program should be preserved (some of the beneficiaries, as noted previously, are enrolled in the same elite school the Obama daughters attend).

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that poor children getting vouchers to attend private schools in the District of Columbia should be allowed to stay there, putting the Obama administration at odds with Democrats trying to end the program.

Duncan opposes vouchers, he said in an interview with The Associated Press. But he said Washington is a special case, and kids already in private schools on the public dime should be allowed to continue.

“I don’t think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning,” Duncan told said. “I think those kids need to stay in their school.”

…The voucher program in Washington has been an exception in the debate over vouchers. Because of the sorry state of public schools in the nation’s capitol, some Democrats were willing to allow it in 2003 when a Republican-led Congress created the voucher program.

And while big-city school superintendents generally oppose vouchers, Rhee, the schools chancellor, has said she is open to the District’s voucher program

“I don’t think vouchers are going to solve all the ills of public education, but parents who are zoned to schools that are failing kids should have options to do better by their kids,” Rhee told The New York Times recently.

The D.C. program gives scholarships to about 1,700 poor kids so they can attend private schools…The voucher program doesn’t cover the entire tuition at Sidwell, which is around $28,000, according to the school’s Web site. Sidwell and other private schools have financial aid programs that also help pay for tuition.

Billions and trillions for failing banks and financial institutions, but they can’t spare some loose change to give poor kids in D.C. hope for a good education? So much for “progressive” values, eh?

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