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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the need for school choice in the U.S., stating that the lack of school freedom primarily negatively impacts low-income minority students.

Rice, the current director of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, addressed educational freedom at a fireside chat focused on democracy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institution in Simi Valley, California, on June 6.

“So are you for school choice or not? We already have a choice system in education,” Rice said. “If you are of means, you will move to a district where the schools are good and the houses are expensive, like Palo Alto, California.” 

“If you’re really wealthy, you will send your kids to private school. So who’s stuck in failing neighborhood schools? Poor kids. A lot of them minority kids.” 

WHAT THIS MILESTONE MEANS FOR THE SCHOOL CHOICE MOVEMENT

Rice argued that not having school choice negatively impacts low-income families by regulating them to underfunded school districts.

“How can you say you’re for civil rights, how can you say you’re for the poor when you’re condemning those children to not being able to read?” Rice said. “By the time they’re in third grade, they’re never going to read.” 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” roughly one-third of American fourth graders read at or below the basic level.

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The rates are often even lower among low-income and minority students.

“If you want to say that school choice and vouchers and charter schools are destroying the public schools, fine, you write that editorial in the Washington Post,” Rice said in the now-viral video. “But then don’t send your kids to Sidwell Friends [an elite Washington, D.C., private school].” 

Back to school

School choice has gained popularly in recent years, with 11 states passing universal school choice.

Many states have enacted Education Savings Accounts, which enable parents to use public funds to cover a variety of education expenses, including private school tuition, instructional materials and homeschooling costs.

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The Heritage Foundation, along with other proponents of school choice, say they would provide equitable opportunity for all students, despite income levels and race, and the overall education level increases as a result.

Those who oppose school choice, like the National Education Association, say voucher programs rarely provide the entire cost for a private school and remove much-needed funding for public schools.



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