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Make school choice a priority and fight against the war for poverty

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If you like your poverty, you can keep it.

In January, we reported on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's speech at the Brookings Institution in which he said that school choice is "the surest way" to end the cycle of poverty and took New York City's extremely liberal new mayor, Bill de Blasio, to task for his plans to restrict charter schools.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal picked up where Cantor left off. In an op-ed in the New York Post titled, "Bill de Blasio’s war for poverty," Gov. Jindal blasted de Blasio's policies that will "only perpetuate the cycle of poverty":

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio has embarked on a systematic campaign to destroy the city’s burgeoning charter school movement;
  • He has diverted more than $200 million in funding marked for charter schools;
  • He has thrown hundreds of students out of their promised school buildings;
  • He has declared his intent to nullify arrangements that allow charters to locate in existing public schools rent-free;
  • His open warfare against Eva Moskowitz' network of 22 charter schools has all the markings of a petulant tyrant holding low-income students hostage;
  • He has said, "There’s no way in hell Eva Moskowitz should get free rent";
  • He has told a teachers-union forum that Moskowitz "has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported."

You can watch the Wall Street Journal's Mary Kissel discuss di Blasio's war on charter schools with Starlee Rhoader of the National Alliance for Public Schools in the accompanying video.

Gov. Jindal also reminded us that even President Obama once seemed to believe in the promise of school choice:

"In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education … And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential."

But Obama’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block Louisiana's school choice, alleging that it will lead to racial segregation - the Left's latest campaign theme in its war against school choice.

In his 2009 inaugural address, Obama promised to "restore science to its rightful place." Nevertheless, the actions of di Blasio and Obama ignore the fact that school choice works.

As the Chicago Tribune noted in its "Making school choice a priority" editorial this week:

In all, nearly 250,000 kids nationwide were freed from the government-imposed boundaries of their local school districts and empowered to find a better school. . . .

School choice is no longer an experiment. We have sound models to emulate. Charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, scholarships — they've all been tested. New Orleans. Milwaukee. Missouri. Cleveland. Arizona. Colorado. Washington, D.C. And on and on.

Study after study confirms the positive effects of school choice on student achievement. Gov. Jindal points out that in New York, four in five charters outperformed comparable public schools in recent state tests; Moskowitz’s schools scored in the top 1 percent in math, and top seven percent in English. In Obama’s hometown of Chicago, one network of charter schools boasts a college graduation rate three times the average of Chicago public schools.

One of the schools I visited to learn about school choice as part of a Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity conference, Milwaukee's HOPE Christian High School, just announced that for the third consecutive year, 100 percent of the school's graduating seniors have been accepted to college. The class of 34 students received 200 acceptance letters and more than $2,000,000 in academic scholarship offers.

Gov. Jindal points out that in New York, four in five charters outperformed comparable public schools in recent state tests; Moskowitz’s schools scored in the top 1 percent in math, and top 7 percent in English. In the president’s hometown of Chicago, one network of charter schools boasts a college graduation rate three times the average of Chicago public schools.

And with regard to di Blasio's war against charter schools co-located with public schools, he fails to take note of a recent study that found that co-location does not have any perceptible impact on student achievement.

Help make school choice a priority. Fight against the war for poverty.

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