Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the latest in a long line of politicians to take advantage of school choice for their own kids—Sen. Warren sent her son to private schools for the majority of has K-12 career—yet opposes school choice for other people’s children. And let’s be clear. By ‘other people’ we’re talking about low-income folks. School choice opponents have no plan to prevent the wealthy from sending their kids to elite private schools, or from buying homes in expensive communities. So anti-choice policies only prevent low-income families from accessing a different school when their assigned school isn’t working.
It’s the ultimate example of ‘good enough for me, but not for thee’.
Sen. Warren chose to bash school choice because it was politically expedient. Here’s the calculation:
Opposing School Choice = Teacher Union Support > Backlash from Desperate Parents
But her political calculation is backfiring. Let’s examine the timeline.
- 10/21/2019: Elizabeth Warren releases her education plan, complete with charter funding cuts and bans, and naming school districts as sole charter school authorizers.
- 10/28/2019: Reason’s Corey DeAngelis breaks the story that Sen. Warren sent her son to an expensive private school in Texas.
- 11/21/2019: Powerful Parent Network, a group of Black parents, protest Sen. Warren’s rally over her stance on charter schools. Sarah Carpenter, a concerned grandmother and education reform activist, confronts Sen. Warren:
Carpenter: “We want the same choice that you made for your kids because I read that your children went to private schools.”
Warren: “No. My children went to public schools.”
- 11/24/2019: The Federalist reports Sen. Warren sent her son to Haverford School, an expensive private school outside Philadelphia. Alex spent the majority of his K-12 academic career in private schools.
- 11/26/2019: Politico reports a colossal nosedive of 50% in Warren’s poll numbers “over the past month.”
The moral of the story is no one likes a hypocrite. If you oppose school choice for families in predominantly low-income communities, like Harrisburg with its median household income of $35,000, yet take advantage of educational choices for your own family voters will notice.
Voters care about education choice. They are paying attention to lawmakers’ personal decisions and their voting records. They are protesting politicians who are on the wrong side of educational freedom.
It’s not too late for Sen. Warren do the right thing. It’s time for a new calculation:
Needs of Parents > Public Union Special Interests
Voters favor school choice nationally with 50% supporting charters and 59% supporting tax credit scholarships in a 2019 Education Next poll. Expanding choice isn’t just a good policy, it’s politically popular and politicians that have exercised choice while denying it to other families do so at their own peril.