10/27/2009 12:00:00 AM
Silencing Voices for School Choice
Attorney General Eric Holder tries to kill a TV ad supporting D.C. school vouchers.
by Sheryl Henderson Blunt
President Obama isn’t taking kindly to a television ad that criticizes his opposition to a popular scholarship program for poor children, and his administration wants the ad pulled.
Former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous of D.C. Children First said October 16 that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had recently approached him and told him to kill the ad.
The 30-second ad, which has been airing on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and News Channel 8 to viewers in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, urges the president to reauthorize the federally-funded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers of up to $7,500 for D.C. students to attend private schools.
The ad features Chavous and a young boy–one of 216 students whose scholarships were rescinded by the Department of Education earlier this year when the agency announced no new students would be allowed into the program. The ad also includes an excerpt taken from one of Obama’s campaign statements.
“We’re losing several generations of kids,” Obama says, “and something has to be done.”
“President Obama is ending a program that helps low-income kids go to better schools, refusing to let any new children in,” Chavous says in the ad. “I’m a lifelong Democrat, and I support our president. But it’s wrong that he won’t support an education program that helps our kids learn.”
The young 5th-grade student then pleads for the president’s help. “President Obama, I need a good education right now,” he says. “You can help. Do it for me.”
The nation’s first black president has come under intense criticism for
failing to support the program that is helping poor African-American students escape some of the nation’s most dangerous and worst-performing public schools. After embracing the teachers unions’ anti-voucher stance, the president now finds himself in the uncomfortable and awkward position of denying students access to a program that has strong bipartisan, local support, and that multiple studies say is helping poor African-American children succeed.