NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hypocrisy On School Choice

November 2, 2000

During the Cold War, East German officials were appalled at suggestions the Berlin Wall be demolished. They reasoned that "If we take down the Wall, the people will leave."

School choice advocates charge that teachers' unions and other statist thinkers have built walls around public schools to keep the children hostage and protect the public school monopoly. Teachers' unions argue that school choice will destroy public schools because parents will pull their children out and send them to private schools -- taking government funding with them.

They should know, since public school teachers and elected public officials often choose to send their own children to private schools.

  • Urban teachers nationwide send their children to private schools at a rate more than double that of the general public.
  • According to 1990 census data, 35.9 percent of Philadelphia public school teachers sent their children to private schools.
  • Twenty-six percent of U.S. representatives and 41 percent of U.S. senators send their children to private schools.
  • Yet only 13 percent of the general public sent their children to private schools as of the 1990 census.

Recently, a school district in Philadelphia charged a low-income mother with the felony of "theft of educational services" because she enrolled her children in a neighboring school district by using a misleading address. She could have been fined $15,000 and sent to jail for three-and-a-half years.

But as part of a plea bargain to a lesser charge, she was required to reimburse the district $3,000 for each child. Then when she did not comply with the court's requirements, she was jailed.

Source: Lori Yaklin (Michigan School Board Leadership Association), "Tear Down This Wall," Washington Times, November 2, 2000.


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