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Elizabeth Warren flip-flops on school choice

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s recent private-school snafu caught her in a(nother) lie, but that isn’t all she has said that poses a dilemma for her anti-choice education plan.

In her 2004 book about family life and economics, The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke, Warren makes an argument for school choice that includes a voucher program to free students otherwise bound to attending the lousy neighborhood public school.

She describes the need to help families who are in a “desperate rush” to “save their children from failing schools,” and that a “well-designed voucher program would fit the bill neatly.”

With fully funded vouchers, parents of all income levels could send their children—and the accompanying financial support—to the schools of their choice.

Fully funded vouchers would relieve parents from the terrible choice of leaving their kids in lousy schools or bankrupting themselves to escape those schools.

We recognize that the term “voucher” has become a dirty word in many educational circles. … The problem is not vouchers; the problem is parent choice. Under current voucher schemes, children who do not use the vouchers are still assigned to public schools based on their zip codes. This means that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a bureaucrat picks the child’s schools, not a parent.

But there is another alternative, one that would keep much-needed tax dollars inside the public school system while still reaping the advantages offered by a voucher program. Local governments could enact meaningful reform by enabling parents choose from among all the public schools in a locale, with no presumptive assignment based on neighborhood. Under a public school voucher program, parents, not bureaucrats, would have the power to pick schools for their children—and to choose which schools would get their children’s vouchers.

An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs.

Hmm. Warren wanted to keep “much-needed tax dollars” inside the public school system yet chose to send her son to an expensive private school and now wants to end vouchers and tax-credit scholarships that give low-income families access to private schools. She supported parental choice and enabling low-income families to choose from “all public schools” yet is now against the public schools that many of those families choose: charter schools. She had a vision for a public school voucher program that mirrors open enrollment yet such a proposal does not appear in her education platform.

Not only does Elizabeth Warren have trouble telling the truth, she will also have trouble defending an education plan that she herself has flip-flopped on.

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