The PJ Tatler

Earnest: Obama Not Criticizing Private School Parents, Just Reminding Them to Think of the Collective

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama, who attended a private prep school and sends his children to the most exclusive private school in D.C., wasn’t criticizing people who send their kids to private school.

Obama made the comments while talking about society’s elites at a forum on poverty Tuesday at Georgetown University.

“Those who are doing better and better — more skilled, more educated, luckier, having greater advantages — are withdrawing from sort of the commons, kids start going to private schools, kids start working out at private clubs, instead of the public parks, on anti-government ideology than dis-invest from those common goods and those things that draw us together,” Obama said. “And that, in part, contributes to the fact that there’s less opportunity for our kids.”

Earnest told MSNBC this morning that Obama was making the point “that it’s important for us to recognize that as a country, we all have an interest investing in the common benefits that our country has to offer.”

“His point is that, even if you send your kids to private school, we all have an interest in making sure that we have good, high-quality public schools in this country that are available to everybody. And it’s not that far from the White House that we do have some of the best public schools in the country over in Fairfax County, Virginia. And that is an example — that is also a more wealthy than average county in the country. And that is an example of a society and of a community that is invested in a common good for the benefit of their community,” Earnest continued.

“I don’t think that he’s criticizing people for sending their children to private schools.”

Instead, Earnest said, Obama is “suggesting that all Americans need to keep in mind that it’s in our collective best interest as a country and as individual citizens for us to invest in the common good, for us to invest and make sure that we have good quality public schools are available for everybody, so that everybody has a fair shot, everybody has a fair shake, everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed and will let their ambition and their hard work take them as far as it — as it will carry them.”

“That’s what this country is all about,” he said. “And we start to lose sight of those basic values in this country, if we all start to sort of retract back into our own private clubs and our own private schools and lose sight of the fact that we all have an interest, even if our kids aren’t going to the public schools, that we want those public schools to be good.”