"Like the Obama girls, Sarah and James attend the Sidwell Friends School in our nation's capital. Unlike the Obama girls, they could not afford the school without the $7,500 voucher they receive from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Unfortunately, a spending bill the Senate takes up this week includes a poison pill that would kill this program -- and with it perhaps the Parker children's hopes for a Sidwell diploma....James and Sarah's mother, Deborah Parker, is not happy and neither is Virginia Walden-Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice.
And it points to perhaps the most odious of double standards in American life today: the way some of our loudest champions of public education vote to keep other people's children -- mostly inner-city blacks and Latinos -- trapped in schools where they'd never let their own kids set foot.
"I'd like to see a reporter stand up at one of those nationally televised press conferences and ask President Obama what he thinks about what his own party is doing to keep two innocent kids from attending the same school where he sends his?"Walden-Ford received her wish when a reporter, identified as Mara, asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about it yesterday. Here's how it went:
Q On education, there's a provision in the omnibus spending bill that would sunset the D.C. voucher plan, and I'm wondering -- there's been a lot of publicity about this brother and sister pair at Sidwell who uses their voucher money to pay for tuition at the same school the President chose to send his children. I'm wondering if you could restate the President's opposition to the D.C. voucher program, and why he's against it.Amazing, Robert Gibbs, has done what few thought possible and managed to make George Bush sound articulate and his policies more compassionate than Barack Obama. I don't think this guys going to have a job for much longer if he keeps this up.
MR. GIBBS: I would -- let me go -- I've not read the article today, if there is one. I think the --
Q Well, it's just about two kids who use their voucher money to go to Sidwell. Pretty basic. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Right. I mean, I think -- right. (Laughter.)
Q I mean -- in other words, that --
MR. GIBBS: Why are you providing me the opportunity to be the middleman? (Laughter.) I mean, again, I think the --
Q Could you just restate the President's --
MR. GIBBS: I think the President has concerns about -- concerns about taking large amounts of funding out of the system to address this, that the President obviously believes -- and I think you'll hear him talk about and has talked about the need for reform in our educational system, but has not agreed with the program in the past. I'll see if there's anything updated on that.
Update: Sec. of Ed., Arne Duncan, attempts to clear up Gibb's nonsense and says he opposes vouchers except in DC.