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Choice and opportunity Rice makes the case

September 03. 2012 12:33AM

During the 2000 Republican convention, Condoleeza Rice spoke movingly about her grandfather, who left the family farm in segregated Alabama to seek an education. He got a college scholarship to become a Presbyterian minister, and 'my family has been Presbyterian and college-educated ever since,' she said.

'In America, with education and hard work, it really does not matter where you came from - it matters where you are going,' she said then.

Making sure that low-income Americans have access to quality education has always been an issue close to Rice's heart. Were it not for that scholarship, her own prospects in life would have been tremendously bleaker. It is hard to understand why anyone would oppose giving today's students similar opportunities to find success through a top-quality education. And yet many do.

They fight against every attempt to provide public scholarships to students who are stuck in failing schools. They claim that these scholarships weaken public schools, as if preserving the century-old factory-assembly-line model of education is more important than making sure that every child actually gets educated.

Rice returned to this issue last week, 12 years after the 2000 convention. She reiterated her theme 'that you can come from humble circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.' A few moments later, she added:

'And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education. But today, today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.

'And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights issue of our day.

Even before he became President, Barack Obama sent his own daughters to private school. As President, he tried to deny the same option to thousands of inner-city children in the District of Columbia by requesting no funds for 2013 for the D.C. school voucher program. Amazing.

New Hampshire finally approved an educational scholarship program this year. It had to get past Gov. John Lynch's veto, and you can be sure that if Democrats Maggie Hassan or Jackie Cilley win the corner office, they will do everything in their power to revoke the opportunities this new law gives to lower-income children. Such is their loyalty to the government school establishment.

The image last week of a black woman being cheered by an arena full of Republican activists for arguing that we all should pay to provide poor and minority children with better educational opportunities is a pretty powerful indictment of the establishment's phony argument that school choice is really all about subsidizing the rich and hurting the poor.