Speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on March 10, President Barack Obama said of his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

Secretary Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.

If the above statement can be taken as a promise that the Obama administration would support any education reform that “works”, then the Obama administration already broke that promise last week when they sent letters to 200 low-income families announcing that the Department of Education was rescinding scholarships previously awarded through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Secretary Duncan’s decision to take scholarship money away from low-income families came just days after the Department of Education released a study showing that students participating in the Opportunity Scholarship program had statistically significant better reading scores than students who applied to the program but were not offered a scholarship. The students that were in the program the longest showed notable improvement reading at levels approximately 1.5 to 2 full school years ahead of the sample group.

The data is in. School choice works. And it significantly lower costs. Opportunity Scholarships offered through the program are worth $7,500. Since the participating private schools cannot charge scholarship students more than the amount of their scholarships, that amount is still less than half of the $15,315 that D.C. taxpayers spent per pupil in the 2004–05 school year.

So why is the Obama administration, an administration supposedly committed to education and “what works”, ripping scholarship money away from low-income students? Former mayor Anthony Williams, a Democrat, and former D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, a Democrat, write in today’s Washington Post:

These naysayers — many of whom are fellow Democrats — see vouchers as a tool to destroy the public education system. Their rhetoric and ire are largely fueled by those special-interest groups that are more dedicated to the adults working in the education system than to making certain every child is properly educated.

The Washington Post editorial board got a bit more specific about who these “adults working in the education system” are:

Congressional Democrats who receive ample campaign contributions from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers laid the trap with budget language that placed the program on the block. And now comes Mr. Duncan with the sword.

Make no mistake; the Obama administration and Secretary Duncan are intimately familiar with the benefits of school choice. Growing up in Hawaii, President Obama attended a private school. Growing up first in Chicago, and now in Washington, Obama’s two daughters attended and still attend a private school. Growing up in Chicago, Secretary Duncan attended a private school. And when he moved to D.C. Secretary Duncan chose to live in Arlington, where good schools for his children are assumed.

When it comes to their own educations and their own children, it is very clear that the Obama administration knows what works. For the rest of American families, however, the Obama administration seems content to put unions first.

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