As more and more elected leaders make school choice a priority for the families they represent, prominent critics continue to insist that public schools should be the only option. But it turns out that many of these opponents of school choice sing a different tune when it comes to their own education and that of their kids. Here are eight political figures who publicly attack school choice, but have privately benefited from alternative schooling options.
Pete Buttigieg – U.S. Secretary of Transportation (D)
What he said: “I’m skeptical that we’re going to gain a lot through expansion of charter schools when we still have such severely underfunded traditional public education.” Source
Where he went: St. Joseph High School in South Bend, IN. A Catholic college prep school, which was then located right next to Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College–and is surprisingly not a “severely underfunded” public school.
Beto O’Rourke – former U.S. Congressman (D)
What he said: “‘School choice’ isn’t really about choice — it’s a ploy to funnel funds reserved for public education into private schools.” Source
Where he went: Woodberry Forest School in rural Madison County, VA. An elite, riverfront, all-boys boarding school on the estate which once belonged to President James Madison’s brother, William. The school’s headmaster lives in a residence designed by Thomas Jefferson himself.
Gavin Newsom – Governor of California (D)
What he said: “Vouchers and for-profit charter schools have no place in this state.” Source
Where he went: Notre Dame des Victoires, a bilingual (French and English) Catholic elementary school in San Francisco. It is a historical place that dates back to the time of the Gold Rush. Newsom has also sent all four of his children to private schools in Sacramento County.
J.B. Pritzker – Governor of Illinois (D)
What he said: “As governor, I will not support school vouchers and will work to do away with this program.” Source
Where he went: Milton Academy, an elite, boarding prep school in Milton, MA. It is highly selective, admitting less than 1 and 6 of its applicants and its tuition clocks in at $65,000/year, more than most colleges. Both of Pritzker’s children have attended elite private schools as well.
Elizabeth Warren – U.S. Senator (D)
What she said: “We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits — which are vouchers by another name.” Source
Where her son went: Senator Warren’s son, Alex, attended Kirby Hall School, an elite college prep school in Austin, TX–and later transferred to Haverford School, another elite prep school, this time in an affluent Philadelphia suburb. So much for his mom tweeting the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud.
Andy Beshear – Governor of Kentucky (D)
What he said: “I oppose school vouchers whether they come through the front or the back door. It’s time for a governor that supports and truly funds our public schools.” Source
Where his kids went: Governor Beshear, who is up for re-election this year, sent both his children to a private elementary school in Louisville, KY. His excuse for choosing a private school for his kids, while opposing school choice for Kentuckians, is that he and his wife “fell in love” with it.
Nancy Pelosi – former Speaker of the House (D)
What she said: When House Republicans implemented Washington, D.C.’s school voucher program in 2011, she dismissed it as an “ideological” scheme to “privatize public education in the District of Columbia.” Source
Where she went: Institute of Notre Dame, commonly nicknamed “IND” or “the Institute.” A historic, all-girls Catholic school in Baltimore, that closed its doors in 2020 after being open for 173 years. Pelosi sent her son, Paul Jr., to Episcopal High School, an elite private boarding school in Virginia.
And last but certainly not least,
Joe Biden – President of the United States (D)
What he said: “When we divert public funds to private schools, we undermine the entire public education system. We’ve got to prioritize investing in our public schools, so every kid in America gets a fair shot. That’s why I oppose vouchers.” Source
Where he went: Archmere Academy in Claymont, DE. A Catholic college preparatory school. Its main building, nicknamed the “patio,” was the country estate of early 20th century industrialist, and Democratic Party activist, John J. Raskob. Both of Biden’s sons also attended the same elite school.