Democratic Senator Al Franken Opposes School Choice — Except For His Own Kids

Members of Congress are known as an especially cynical bunch, but among Democrats, that cynicism often turns to pure hypocrisy as far as their political policies go.

Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is a prime example. In recent confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education, Franken grilled DeVos mercilessly over the issue of school choice and vouchers that would allow children to attend other institutions such as private, religious or military schools.

Specifically, Franken charged that DeVos, who comes from a background of advocating for school choice in her home state of Michigan, was “fundamentally unqualified to lead the Education Department” because “she [herself] has never attended a public school; she has never sent a child to public school.”

This is despite the fact that DeVos was the architect of the charter school system in Detroit and was the head of the American Federation for Children, an organization that promotes school choice and systems of vouchers for poor and underprivileged children nationwide.

Franken, along with other Senate Democrats, took part in an all-night session to oppose DeVos’ confirmation, wherein he argued that “In reality, most school vouchers don’t cover the full cost of private school tuition. Nor do they cover additional expenses like transportation, school uniforms and other supplies. Which means the vouchers don’t create more choices for low-income families. They simply subsidize existing choices for families who could already afford to pay for private school.”

But at the same time, it should be pointed out that DeVos has gone on record saying that children should not be forced to attend public schools that are known to be failing. “During a speech in March 2015, DeVos said a child should not be forced to go to a school based solely on their family’s income or zip code,” the website AlphaNews reported.

DeVos has been quoted as saying, “Let the education dollars follow each child, instead of forcing the child to follow the dollars. This is pretty straightforward, and it’s how you go from a closed system to an open system that encourages innovation. People deserve choices and options.”

Rather than look askance at DeVos’ experience with educational matters, Franken might do better to look at his own. Franken attended Harvard College in the 1970s and was later interviewed for Harvard Magazine about his secondary education while growing up. Franken confessed to being a science and math whiz and admitted he went to the exclusive Blake School in the Minneapolis area, a private academy where today the tuition is a cool $29,025 per year.

Other Blake alumni include Marcus Peacock, the deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Obama as well as Mark Dayton, the current Democratic Governor of Minnesota and the man who preceded Franken’s partner from Minnesota in the Senate, Democrat Amy Klobuchar.

Worse than Franken’s own history with private schooling, however, is the fact that Franken’s own children also didn’t attend public school; they instead went to the exclusive Dalton private school in Manhattan — one of the world’s priciest private secondary institutions.

Typical Dalton students include children of royalty and celebrities where tuition runs a taxing $44,640 per year — more than the cost of many American colleges and higher than the average household income for the state of Alabama. The school has been attended by both CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Shaun Donovan, the director of President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Among other issues, Dalton has been criticized in both The Atlantic magazine and The New York Times for being a “difficult” environment for minority children to learn in. In a perhaps not entirely unrelated matter, this year, Dalton’s administration called off a student ice-skating party at Wollman Rink in Central Park solely due to its association with President Donald Trump (who funded the rink’s completion out of his own pocket back in the 1980s).

When he was campaigning, President Trump termed school choice “the civil rights issue of our time,” arguing that minority children are often stuck in some of the worst schools in the nation, typically in districts where Democratic political machines have dominated for decades. Such schools have no incentive to change or improve if their students are held captive to them.

The twin teachers’ unions of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have long maintained a war chest of funds dedicated to fighting school choice and voucher systems. Both unions are some of the staunchest supporters of Democratic Congressional and presidential candidates.

When it came time for Senate Democrats to vote on Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, Senator Franken was one of at least seven Democratic senators out of 46 who rejected her for the Education Department role, despite having children or grandchildren that attended private schools.

The other senators in this conspicuous group included Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey.

It’s likely that these senators would do better to consider the situation of their own families before making choices for others’.

~American Liberty Report