Blacks Admonish Barack Obama for His Opposition to Options for Children in Failing Public Schools

In a speech to the nation’s largest teachers’ union, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) criticized school vouchers as a means of improving American schools.  The black leadership network Project 21 says the senator supports taking away needed education options for children whose only option often is failing public schools.

Local programs already in operation allow parents with children enrolled in consistently failing government-run schools to use a “voucher,” much like a scholarship, to place their children in other area public, private or parochial schools they believe will better educate their children.

Speaking to a crowd of about 9,000 at the annual National Education Association teachers’ union convention in Philadelphia, Senator Obama said, “The ideal of a public education has always been at the heart of the American promise.  It’s why we are committed to fixing and improving our public school instead of abandoning them and passing out vouchers.”  Obama also said the ‘single most important factor in determining [a child’s] achievement’ is a teacher.  He further said his plan for fixing American schools is “to invest billions of new dollars into the teaching profession.”

“Clearly, Senator Obama is showing his true liberal colors by pandering to the teachers’ unions at the peril of the educational needs of our children,” said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, a member of the board of trustees of the Harlem Opportunity Charter School in New York City.  “When government-run schools are failing our children, school choice options such as vouchers, tax credits and charter schools must be available for parents.  Parents — not teachers — know what’s best for individual children.  Senator Obama should realize this since he is a product of private schooling, as are his own children.”

“Senator Obama seems more interested in appeasing special interests than seeing that African-American children have the same chance at a quality education as wealthier Americans,” said Project 21 member Kevin Martin, the son of a retired teacher.  “Obama could essentially deny yet another generation of young blacks a quality education, often against their parents’ wishes.”

As a teenager, Obama was a student at the private Punahou High School in Hawaii.  His two daughters have also attended private school.

A 2001 NEA-sponsored poll found 63 percent of respondents favored school choice.  A Zogby International poll in 2002 found support for school choice as high as 76 percent.  Polls commissioned by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Black America’s Political Action Committee between 2001 and 2002 found black support for school choice between 57.4 and 63 percent.

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.  For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.