Several years ago, after the doctor who delivered my children retired, I was distraught over finding a new OB-GYN. At least half of you can relate: what woman wants to build that kind of relationship with someone all over again, especially after four kids?
But I did my research, and found a practice - led by a woman - who was professional, straightforward, and well regarded. I chose her to be my doctor.
Choosing a doctor is a choice that we make with caution and much deliberation. If we couldn't choose our doctors, we'd be outraged. Being able to make good choices for us and for our families is uniquely American. It's called freedom.
It's a freedom that both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder support - at least in theory. But the Administration's rhetoric over choice and freedom hits a giant roadblock however, when it comes to education. Let me explain.
This week, as we mark the 50th Anniversary of the famed March on Washington - which is every bit about equity and freedom and justice - Attorney General Holder filed suit to block poor, mostly African-American children in Louisiana from accessing better, private schools.
As a result, parents who used Louisiana's school voucher program to select private schools for their children may be forced to remove their children from those schools and re-enroll them in failing public schools. These parents actively chose better schools for their children, after deliberation and research, just like I did when I chose my doctor.
The Attorney General used an incredibly specious argument for his suit, claiming that the school voucher program, which passed with bipartisan support and is incredibly popular among families, could interfere with decades-old desegregation orders in some school districts.
Nobody argues that is not beneficial to student growth. But decades-old desegregation orders have been widely dismissed over time as ineffective at actually ensuring that children receive a quality education. These orders create more, not less, segregation and have been enforced at great expense to children and families - educationally, emotionally, and financially. In fact, school districts cling to the orders not to ensure diversity, but to claim additional funding.
I've fought to end the practice of using desegregation orders as a means of trapping children in failing schools. In 2008, as President Obama and Attorney General Holder prepared to take office, I joined with former DC Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, journalist Juan Williams, and others in issuing a "Mandate for Change" to the incoming Administration. Part of our message was that the Justice Department should use its power to dismiss antiquated policies that leave parents without educational options for their children.
"Incoming Attorney General Eric Holder...can draw from his own humble beginnings in the Bronx and his experience of public schools in Queens to inspire his staff to ask what public education is and what it should be," we wrote. "He can further instruct his Office of Civil Rights to determine if violations of civil rights laws are occurring as a result of basic neglect, not to mention negligent educational practices, in public schools today."
The Obama Administration not only refused to embrace educational opportunity for children, it's been outright hostile to school choice. In addition to this weekend's lawsuit against the State of Louisiana's school choice program, the Administration has waged war, both via threat of legislation and now through regulation, against the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. This program provides 2,000 low-incomes children with access to successful private schools and has been a lifeline for participating students.
Not only has President Obama issued a clear dictate that he will fight school choice legislatively and through regulation, his Attorney General has also used their position and taxpayer money to fight school choice in the courts. The message they are sending is clear: that in a nation where we choose virtually everything - including our doctors - parents have no choices at all, no freedom, when it comes to the education of their children.
And that doctor I chose a few years ago? She just happens to be Eric Holder's wife.
She's a great doctor, but I'll no longer be her patient. Visiting the wife of the Attorney General, even as a physician, is just too painful a reminder of just how badly the course of justice to which I've devoted my life has been thwarted by a man who proclaims the need for choice and freedom - except when it doesn't fit his political purposes.