Alex Massie

Choice is for me, not for thee

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Gabriel Sherman's written a very entertaining piece on the furious competition between Washington's elite private schools to enroll the Obama daughters next term. Enjoyable as it is, you may find yourself wishing they could all lose. However, the piece reveals one of th egrubbier, more ghastly sides of the city.

Nonetheless, the issue of where the Obama girls go to school is interesting. Back in 1992 the Clintons toyed with the notion - perhaps even promising? - that Chelsea would attend a bog-standard public (ie, state) school. That didn't survive a recce of the DC public school system (though I suspect that the Secret Service had a say too) and I doubt many people really think the Obamas are going to put their kids into a public school. So Sidwell Friends (where Chelsea went) or Georgetwon Day seems most likely.

And that's fair enough. Here's the thing however: all year long Obama said that, with regard to healthcare, it was only fair that every American have access to the kind of privileged healthcare plan members of Congress have thoughtfully provided for themselves. Nothing wrong with that either. But sauce for healthcare is sauce for education: if everyone should be able to make the same choices as Congressmen and Senators in healthcare, why shouldn't ordinary voters have the same - or similar -  range of choices available to them as do the Wahsington elite when it comes to choosing what school they send their kids to?

I don't think Obama is being especially hypocritical in sending his own kids to the best school he can afford. I just wonder why he doesn't do more to help more families have some of the same choices he does?  What's the difference - apart from the teaching unions' contributions to Democratic politics - between healthcare and education? That is, what's the logic in supporting choice in healthcare but opposing it in education?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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