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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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I'm a Hypocrite.
Jonathan Pait
July 26, 2002

I am a big proponent of the public education system. As a matter of fact, I think that education in America would be better served if education was standardized at the federal level and teachers were allowed to become federal employees. The system is the best hope we have to prepare our children for the future.

I work to make sure that the schools are not only teaching the 3 R's but also preparing students to be socially fit in an adult world. It is so important that I make sure that each child has this equal opportunity. I cringe at the thought of parents making a choice to place their children outside this protective shelter.

I do not want parents to make a wrong choice. I have a responsibility to this country--and when these children are outside our schools, I have no way of assuring that my responsibility is being met. The burden weighs heavy on me.

I am also a parent. I want what is best for my children. Of course, they're not just any kids. They're my kids. I don't want to seem that I think too highly of myself, but I am in a unique situation. My kids can't just fit in like most in your typical public school. I have had to decide to send my children to an exclusive private school that caters to children of people in my position.

Of course, I have researched and discovered that this school best meets my child's needs. I would like to do that for all parents in all schools but most private schools don't wish to cooperate. I also have trouble getting the funds for such a large project because we have so many programs waiting that we need to institute in our public schools.

Who am I? I am one of 71 members of the 107th Congress who voted against school choice legislation who also sends or has sent children to private schools. Jennifer Garret recently wrote about me in the Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.

She pointed out from a recent survey that "whereas only 10 percent of the general populace send at least one child to private school, in 2000, 40 percent of Representatives and 49 percent of Senators with school-age children responded that they had sent children to private school." In 2001 47 percent of my House colleagues and 50 percent of those in the Senate did the same.

Even 32 percent of those of us directly involved in education issues (such as the House Education and Workforce Committee) exercise the private school option. Everyone needs to understand that we are unique and not everyone is able to make these kinds of decisions.

I am a member of Congress voting against school choice with a child in a private school. I am a hypocrite . . . or worse, I do not trust that the American people can discern which schools are best for their children.

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