CNN's Spitzer: Obama Supports the 'Agenda For Choice in Schools'

CNN's Eliot Spitzer misleadingly claimed on Tuesday's Parker Spitzer that "President Obama has done everything to push the agenda for choice in schools" [audio available here]. In reality, the President's record shows that he has actually worked against school choice, particularly in the District of Columbia.

Spitzer and co-host Kathleen Parker brought on Stephen A. Smith, an African-American talk radio host, during the lead segment of the 8 pm Eastern hour to discuss his view that the black community should "play hard to get" with the Democratic Party, as the on-screen graphic summed it. Midway through the segment, the former Democratic governor of New York acted as the defender of the Obama administration's record on education: "It seems to me that President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan- 'Race to the Top,' [is] embracing the things from Michelle Rhee's reform agenda, to Joel Klein's reform agenda, getting quality teachers into the schools - all those things."

Smith retorted strongly that the Democrats don't have a spotless record on the issue:

[Video embedded below the page break]

SMITH: I love those ideas, but I also watched the Democratic- the Democrats just excoriate George W. Bush for 'No Child Left Behind'...Now, the progressives- the liberals, are supposed to be a party of choices, but how many choices were they willing to give you? What they were saying is, is if you support the charter schools, what that's going to do is take funding and it's going to veer it away from the public sector into the chartered sector. But they didn't give the African-American community an opportunity to make that decision. They tried to make it for us. That's a problem.

Spitzer replied by giving an example from his time as New York governor, and when the talk show host didn't buy this, he made his claim about President Obama:

SPITZER: We doubled the number of charter schools. New York City, which is a Democratic city- we have an independent mayor-

SMITH: I'm not talking about you-

SPITZER: We- no, no, no, no. But I'm saying- President Obama has done everything to push the agenda for choice in schools, for improving the quality of our teachers-

SMITH: But you're misconstruing what I'm saying. I'm not here to lambaste the intentions of our president-

SPITZER: Right.

SMITH: What I'm talking about is when they asked me the question, before I came onto the show, about blacks, and the African-American community, and the Democratic Party, it wasn't about Obama, because I truly believe his heart is in the right place. I don't think he always knows- the best decisions economically, and, God knows, the unemployment rate shows that.


Penny Starr of CNSNews reported on February 8, 2010 that the executive proposed "further cuts in funding for the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income, mostly minority students. Obama stopped funding altogether for the OSP in his 2010 fiscal year budget, but after protests from parents and school choice advocates, the administration decided to let children already receiving scholarships continue to do so until they graduate from high school. In the new budget, however, funding for the OSP is slashed by $4 million -- from $13 million to $9 million – $1 million of which is for administrative costs."

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center