Congressmen Love Private School for Their Kids

Heritage research assistant Evan Feinberg reports on a news study showing that “37 percent of Representatives and 45 percent of Senators in the 110th Congress sent their children to private schools—almost four times the rate of the general population.” He observes, “if all of the Members who exercised school choice for their own children had supported school choice in policy, every major legislative effort in recent years to give parents school choice would have passed.” Indeed, “Over 37 percent of House Democrats have prac­ticed school choice, but 96 percent of Democrats who practiced school choice voted against the voucher program.”

Heritage media and public policy director Rob Bluey piles on, charging that, “What’s even more bothersome is that some members of Congress — who are paid $165,200 per year — have no problem sending their own kids to private schools, but want to reduce the school-choice options for those without financial means to afford it on their own.”

Now, this is somewhat unfair. For one thing, it’s not necessarily hypocritical to engage in luxury purchases on one’s own dime while being against public subsidies for those same services. Further, a great number of Members reside in the District, which has some of the worst schools in the country, so comparing their rates to that of the entire population skews the results.

Still, one would think a group that so obviously appreciates the virtues of private education would want to make it more widely available.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Education, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tlaloc says:

    Since no one is pushing to ban private schools it would only be hypocritical if congress voted to defray their own private school tuitions at taxpayer expense while preventing others who want the same.

    The seems like some on the right are anxious to put the H label on some democrats after Larry Craig’s humiliation, no matter how tenuous an argument they have to use to do so.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    Tlaloc,

    So you can’t see any hypocrisy in democrats in congress forcing the poor to have no choice but to keep their kids in failing public schools while at taxpayer expense the same democrats have the means to send their own children to private schools?

    And by the way, just letting the people decide if they would rather spend their money on a private school or a public school would be a big step towards solving the problem. But no, you probably don’t see the hypocrisy in being ‘pro-choice’, but supporting forcibly taking money to prevent choice.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    ….at taxpayer expense while preventing others who want the same.

    Well technically, the salary for Representatives and Senators are tax dollars.

    You could argue they earn it, but I wouldn’t go that far.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    So you can’t see any hypocrisy in democrats in congress forcing the poor to have no choice but to keep their kids in failing public schools while at taxpayer expense the same democrats have the means to send their own children to private schools?

    Well since that description fails the definition of hypocrisy (not to mention reality) I’ll go with “No, I can’t.”

    And by the way, just letting the people decide if they would rather spend their money on a private school or a public school would be a big step towards solving the problem.

    The school voucher movement is simply and aspect of Grover Norquist’s “starve the beast” strategy. the entire point is to siphon more money from public schools so that they fail and the GOP can then press to remove public education altogether.

    Concerns that the GOP might be cynically exploiting the poor with no intent to actually help them can be addressed to the Republican headquarters in New Orleans.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    Well technically, the salary for Representatives and Senators are tax dollars.

    That’s their paycheck, not a perk. It’s akin to saying if a congressman buys a car with their paycheck they’re hypocrites for not voting to buy everyone else cars too out of taxes.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    No only do the Democrats want school choice for themselves while holding others captive. they want to bus children to schools for social engineering purposes while sending their own children to schools where academic learning in the only goal and social engineering is never attempted. The Democrats send their children to schools that are overwhelmingly white (like the 90% white and Asian school where the granddaughter of Ruth Bader Ginsberg goes) while making race more important that academic achievement in the public schools.

    The real hypocrisy is that everything about the private school where they send their children is the opposite of what the mandate for public school children.

  7. spencer says:

    The Congressional salary puts them in the top quintile of American household income. In would be more informative to compare their use of private schools to the average of the top income quintile rather than the total US population.

  8. Andy says:

    No only do the Democrats want school choice for themselves while holding others captive.

    Yes, superdestroyer, that’s absolutely right. The Democrats have passed dozens of laws banning private citizens from sending their children to private schools.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled reality…

  9. C.Wagener says:

    Education is too important to leave to the private sector. We also so need state control over grocery stores, because food and basic staples are too important to be left to the private sector.

    If people really value toilet paper they should be willing to wait in line for a few hours to get it. Long live the Soviet Union!

    And UPS must be destroyed. The U.S. Postal Service: “When it absolutely possibly needs to show up somewhere in 5 of 6 days, slightly damaged”.

  10. superdestroyer says:

    Andy,

    Look at the Democratic opposition to charter schools, public school choice, to magnet programs and to academic tracking.

    The Democratic party’s position is always to keep the maximum number of public school teachers occupied while leaving the poor and blue collar families stuck in the worst public schools.

    I wonder how many novels the children of politicians get to red in four years at ST Albans or National Cathedral versus the number of novels read at Anancostia High School in DC? Yet, the Democrats consistently oppose anything that would improve the academic performance of the students at Anacostia or give poor students a chance to escape such a poor performing school.