If there were any doubt that Democratic presidential politics drove the Obama administration’s decision Monday to keep D.C. Opportunity Scholarships alive another year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan removed it with his tortured statement by way of public explanation.
“The President and I are committed to ensuring that the education of the children currently in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program is not disrupted,” Duncan wrote. “We remain convinced that our time and resources are best spent on reforming the public school system to benefit all students and we look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner to advance that goal.”
Unfortunately, this has become the go-to talking point for the secretary when asked to defend his administration’s opposition to a scholarship that is helping struggling low-income students in the District of Columbia. Never mind that Duncan’s own agency has determined that the students who take the scholarship are performing at higher academic levels, that the program has strong support from parents, and that Congress has cushioned even any perceived financial impact on traditional D.C. public schools by giving them an extra appropriation. The president simply won’t cross the teacher unions on vouchers.
Rather than acknowledge the political pickle, Duncan is left tripping over his own words and basic common sense.