A letter to President Joe Biden

Dear President Biden,

I am an ancient Berkeley law professor, long absent from the classroom but still scribbling, mostly about the schooling of children. My enduring hope for this country is the ever-delayed empowerment of not-so-rich parents to be trusted – like the rest of us – to choose the school for their own children.

This is, of course, the parents’ constitutional right. Curiously, it also is their legal duty; each must get his or her child properly taught, either at home, if the parent is prepared, or at some qualified school, public or private. My late wife, Marilyn, and I chose public school for roughly half of our five children’s years, the rest parochial.

The decision wasn’t always easy, but as parents, we felt the responsibility and never regretted it.

It is a curious political reality that so many of us Democrats have, for so long, favored the systematic frustration of those lower-income parents who wish to take responsibility for their own child. Those of us who have for so long called for their empowerment have somehow been imagined by colleagues and media as seriously “conservative” in our political souls.

Think of that: We want to treat the poor parent just as we demand to be treated ourselves, hence we are conservative.

But it’s true; in my experience, most of these “liberal” folk who flourish in our universities and legislatures consider subsidized school choice for the poor to be a conservative – even right wing – ambition. It is not surprising that they seem to have serious difficulty in describing their own authentically liberal position.

I appreciate the importance of any president’s keeping loyal constituents satisfied; but for the years ahead, I would respectfully note the growing political weight of these lower income who happen to be parents and who would be ever grateful for the practical restoration of that independence and responsibility guaranteed them by the Constitution.

Sincerely yours,

John E. Coons