A Look Back at Presidential Opinion

In a political atmosphere where parties are highly polarized, political parties tend to forget what ideas they support and resort to defining themselves as being against the opposition party’s ideas.

Party support for education reform ideas like school choice seems to fit this mold. Recently, the Trump administration has put a lot of emphasis on school choice. Seemingly on cue, those who might typically support policies for equality for the poor and working class families have begun to resist school choice policies that might lift people out of poverty.

So, as we celebrate President’s Day this week, we wanted to take a look back at what previous President’s thought and said about school choice policies. Which sides were historically for or against such policies? What can we learn when we step back from the political turmoil we are presently steeped in?


Governing parties flip-flop but an important education idea remains consistent.

U.S. News and World Reports records that, despite their political parties, the past 4 presidents have all called for expanding school choice policies when addressing Congress.

Former President Obama (DEM) called for school choice expansion when he took to the podium to address Congress for the first time in 2009 and touted the promise of expanding charter schools.

Former President G.W. Bush (REP) stated, "We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose some place better."

In his 1994 State of the Union address, Former President Clinton (DEM) proposed, “...to empower individual school districts to experiment with ideas like chartering their schools to be run by private corporations or having more public school choice, to do whatever they wish to do as long as we measure every school by one high standard: Are our children learning what they need to know to compete and win in the global economy?"

And similarly, Former President G.H.W Bush (REP) argued to "give parents more choice, give teachers more flexibility and help communities create new American schools” in his State of the Union address.

Needless to say, expanding school choice in a variety of ways hasn’t just  been a priority for this President. It was supported by the previous 4 Presidents regardless of their party affiliation. Educational choice and the way it affects our communities and economies  should continue to be an important bipartisan issue. Let’s reach across the aisle and work together. We at Environmentalists for Effective Education are particularly interested in fighting concentrated poverty, growing economies, giving all people equal education opportunities, AND caring for the environment through education reform. Learn more about how we think this is possible here.