Barack Obama’s Biggest Failure

A little over three years ago millions of Americans heralded the inauguration of Barack Obama, who had offered them a legacy of hope and change. The reality, it turns out, has been drastically different. I could spend this blog listing the failures of Obama; the degradation of the United States as neither exceptional nor Christian; Obamacare, another unaffordable entitlement as government slips into default; a failed energy policy which has made the United States more dependent on our enemies when we have enough coal and natural gas to be completely independent within a decade; we could go on and on about the shortsightedness of the Obama administration.

However, Obama’s biggest failure, perhaps the one that damages the future of our country more than any other, remains pent-up in the background, receiving little notice. Barack Obama had the opportunity to enthusiastically lead an agenda that would have truly improved America’s future; the use of parental vouchers for all of America’s public and private schools.

On the same south side of Chicago where Obama worked as a community organizer he has witnessed and wiped his hands clean of the horrible public schools that cast aside tens of thousands of black kids every year. These are bad schools overseen by overpaid administrators and unionized public school teachers who enroll their own children in private schools or in wealthy suburban public schools. The sums spent per child in America’s urban public schools are enormous, yet there is no progress. Economists and political thinkers know that the problem of America’s public schools is a lack of competition that only parental vouchers would provide.

It is no mystery why Obama has decided not to make the “voucherization” of public schools a priority; he is beholding to the teacher unions, who will come out in big numbers this November to reward him with a second term.

Declaring his support for vouchers nation-wide could have really changed America and her future. Obama was the one President who had the mix of racial and practical experience that could have reformed the nation’s public schools. Barack Obama, a black man, decided that his political career was more important than the future of thousands of black and minority kids. Had Obama the courage to cast away the teacher unions and do right by young minority school children he could have gone down in history as more than a President. What a crying shame Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t rise to the level of Statesman.

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One Response to Barack Obama’s Biggest Failure

  1. Bernard Walsh says:

    Hello Professor, I am a former student of your Labor Economic Course and I appreciate your blog. I would like to share a few brief thoughts on your blog post.

    As a Chicago native (Sox Fan, not Cubs) and someone who grew up in a union household that has multiple municipal employees in my immediate family, it is my personal belief that an Illinois Democrat will never seriously challenge organized labor. Political self interest above citizens best interest is a long tradition in Illinois. Also, based on the President’s history in the Illinois State Senate, an expectation of bold leadership on the education topic was misplaced.

    In reading your post I would respectfully disagree with your premise. I think the President should not be pushing a voucher scheme on the states. I think that the Federal government should be getting out of the education business. State and local governments should own their educational departments and systems. We citizens and non-citizens are blessed with free movement in this country and individuals and families vote with their feet to what kind of educational system we want imposed on us. (I took the “Vote with their feet” line from a Milton Freidman interview I saw.)

    States and municipalities should compete for their citizens (they do now but I think it should be even more). If Federal money, restrictions and controls were removed from local education this would provide states and municipalities with a true incentive to have the best educational system within their means. Currently the Federally funded system lowers the bar and imposes conformity of poor results on too many public school students. (As a side note, for any reader that would say we MUST have federal guidelines or education falls into an abyss, consider this; less than 50% of Chicago Public School students graduate high school. What benefit do these students see from centralized national standards?)

    Perhaps I am naive, but my imagination dreams of big cities and small towns that have some high schools that are for designed to be college prep schools for students that want to pursue a 4 year educational experience down the street from other public schools that provide technical or vocational training opportunities (auto, carpentry, computer drafting, welding, plumbing, HVAC, ect.) as part of their standard curriculum. Local areas would tailor their programs around the needs of the area they are located. (You wouldn’t have a program for zoo keepers 215 miles from the nearest zoo but industrialized areas would have welding and drafting programs.)

    These are just my thoughts. Thanks for your blog posting and for providing a forum for opinions.

    Bernard Walsh
    WSU, Class of ’98

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