The Blog

Does Obama Support School Vouchers?

9:29 AM, Oct 20, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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Barack Obama's short time on the national stage means he offers little in the way of a track record as to how he would govern as president. One of his great successes as a candidate is to be all things to all audiences. As National Journal points out, that's particularly true on school choice. It's one issue where he has an official stance -- he opposes it -- but it doesn't stop him from seeming to agree with whoever the current audience is:

In February, Obama seemed open to the idea of private-school vouchers. In an editorial board meeting with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, he was asked about his opposition to Wisconsin's voucher program. If he saw more proof that vouchers are successful, Obama said, he would "not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn.... You do what works for the kids."

But at the American Federation of Teachers convention this year, Obama repeated his attack against spending government money to help low-income students attend private schools. He criticized John McCain's school-choice reform as "using public money for private-school vouchers," and he called instead for overhauling public schools.

The blogosphere has been buzzing over Obama's perspective on vouchers. Pro-voucher blogs praise the Democratic nominee for showing some willingness to consider vouchers as a viable alternative. Some critics, meanwhile, say that Obama flip-flopped in the Milwaukee interview, and some argue that the interview did not indicate a shift toward vouchers.

So Obama opposes vouchers, but he won't 'stand in the way' of a better education for our kids. What a concession. And now, in the latest debate, he sent signals to supporters of public school choice that he's really with them after all! That's according to Mickey Kaus. Kaus points out that in the latest debate, Obama had kind words for D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Rhee is pretty unpopular with the D.C. teachers' union, notably because of her openness to school choice.