NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Members Of Congress Exercise School Choice

June 27, 2000

Members of Congress who oppose school choice initiatives choose to send their own children to private schools, say analysts. A recent Heritage Foundation survey found that of Congress members with school-age children:

  • Almost half (49 percent) of Senators and 40 percent of House members sent at least one child to private school, with lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over education most likely to choose the private school.
  • Among representatives from the 10 largest U.S. cities, 33 percent chose private schools over public schools.
  • Despite national support among African-Americans and Hispanics, members of the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus continue to be avid opponents of school choice; yet, 29 percent of the Black Caucus and 14 percent of the Hispanic Caucus exercise the school choice they oppose.

Recent votes in Congress on school choice would have fared much differently if those exercising school choice had voted to allow other Americans the same option. Specifically, a bill by Rep. Dick Armey to enable children in dangerous schools to attend the school of their choice and a bill by Rep. Thomas Petri to allow states to let federal education funds for poor students be redeemed at a school of their choice both failed. Both bills would have passed if those exercising school choice had voted in favor of that choice for poor children.

Source: Nina Shokraii Rees and Jennifer Garrett, "School Choice Hypocrites," Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2000; and Rees and Garrett, "How Members of Congress Practice School Choice," June 14, 2000, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D,C, 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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