Watch Barack Obama, open to school vouchers, in his June, 2002 debate w/Berkowitz, Cable and Web

Barack Obama: I am willing to listen to these arguments [in favor of school vouchers- school choice]  and see if I can be persuaded that ultimately, kids would be better off, then-

Jeff Berkowitz: You would support school vouchers?

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Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs features an insightful look at the President-- Barack Obama could have been. Even in 2004, when the still young Obama, 43, was showing signs of becoming a more typical politician in terms of putting politics ahead of public policy, show host Jeff Berkowitz described Obama, then running for the Democratic Party U. S. Senate nomination in Illinois in a seven candidate race, as “Transcending politics and race.”

Tonight’s Chicago edition of Public Affairs airs throughout Chicago proper at 8:30 pm and midnight on Cable Ch. 21 [CAN TV].

You can also watch tonight’s June, 2002 show with Obama 24/7 by clicking here [The third in a series of six Berkowitz-Obama TV show debates].

When host Berkowitz interviewed the then six year state senator from Chicago's south side (Obama's district including Hyde Park- UChicago, then his residential neighborhood) on June 27, 2002, Obama engaged in a free-wheeling discussion and debate for almost the entire first half of the show on the merits and drawbacks, as he saw it, of school vouchers- school choice.

Going forward, said Obama, with the U. S. Constitutional school voucher issue having been removed by the June 27, 2002 U. S. Supreme Court Zelman decision, school vouchers should be debated across the country, state by state, locality by locality, as one means  to improve the quality of education in Chicago and other inner city areas—which he described elsewhere, as generally being delivered under “Admittedly intolerable conditions.”

Karen Lewis, head of the 30,000 member Chicago Teachers Union since 2010 and Dartmouth Alum '74, speaking to a sold out, City Club of Chicago luncheon crowd on April 20, 2016

Karen Lewis, head of the 30,000 member Chicago Teachers Union since 2010, speaking to a City Club of Chicago luncheon crowd on April 20, 2016. Lewis went on to argue with Berkowitz at a post City Club speech press conference against any form of competition for CPS traditional neighborhood schools, i.e., Lewis opposes school vouchers- school choice and charter schools. Obamna ended up meeting the union boss half way by coming out on July 24, 2003 on Public Affairs against school vouchers but for charter schools.

You can also watch the first of the six Berkowitz-Obama debate TV shows [July, 2000 on community organizing and more] by clicking here and the second of the six Berkowitz-Obama debate TV shows [March, 2001, on racial profiling] by clicking here [this racial profiling show with Obama will air next Monday night in Chicago in the regular Public Affairs slot on Cable Ch. 21 [CAN TV] at 8:30 pm and midnight]  

Additional topics debated during the Obama show with Berkowitz include the propriety of ethnic profiling when the U. S. sets policies intended to prevent acts of terrorism and an assessment of President Bush's initial actions and policies to avoid another September 11.  

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Barack Obama: I am willing to listen to these arguments [in favor of school vouchers- school choice]  and see if I can be persuaded that ultimately, kids would be better off, then-

Jeff Berkowitz: You would support school vouchers?

Obama: I would support anything that is going to be better for the children of Illinois.

Berkowitz: Including school vouchers, if you are persuaded  [that they would make Illinois kids better off]

Barack Obama: Whatever is on table I think has to be debated.

Jeff Berkowitz: Quite a concession. I am going to quit while I am ahead [one year later, on Public Affairs, then a candidate for the U. S. Senate and looking for the support of the teachers’ unions in that race, Obama said, “As you know, Jeff, I support charter schools, but oppose school vouchers."  Of course, Berkowitz knew no such thing, because Obama said in 2002 he was open to supporting school vouchers].

Berkowitz: Let’s go on to the Pledge of allegiance [which had been declared the day before as unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals because that pledge contains the phrase “Under God,” and was being recited daily by public school kids. Obama disagreed with the 9th Circuit decision].

Public Affairs, June 27, 2002.  

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