These 7 governors oppose school choice yet sent their own kids to private school

Governors who oppose school choice often champion public education. But at least seven send their kids to private schools, leading to charges of hypocrisy from critics.


Governors who oppose school choice often champion public education. But at least seven send their kids to private schools, leading to charges of hypocrisy from critics.

Gavin Newsom

California is one of the few remaining states with no meaningful type of school choice, leaving most students in what critics call a failing public education system.

And although Gov. Gavin Newsom once claimed during his 2022 reelection campaign to have provided “real choice to parents – expanding access to affordable, high-quality instruction for their kids,” he is diametrically opposed to education freedom. 

“Vouchers and for-profit charter schools have no place in this state,” Newsom said during his first gubernatorial campaign. 

In 2022, the governor even boasted about the state’s record public education spending: $23,000 per student – $7,000 more than the average private school tuition in California. 

But despite opposing education freedom to Californians, Newsom himself received a private, parochial education, having attended a Catholic elementary school and private Jesuit university. 

He also sends his children to private school, reported Politico, which critics say contradicts his public school advocacy. 

Roy Cooper 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recently came under fire for declaring a state of emergency over school choice legislation he opposed in the Legislature. 

“Republicans in Raleigh are trying to pass a dangerous scheme that would fundamentally erode the foundation of public schools in North Carolina,” said Cooper’s advisor in a television ad. “This ad is an attempt to bring more public awareness to ensure legislators can’t sneak this awful plan by the public.”  

However, critics were quick to call out Cooper’s hypocrisy for sending his own children to St. Mary’s School, where tuition ranges between $32,000 and $62,000. 

“If [Cooper] believed so much in public education, why did he spend thousands for his own kid to avoid it?” asked Jason Williams, executive director of the North Carolina Faith & Freedom Coalition. 

Laura Kelly  

In March, Kansas. Gov Laura Kelly said she’d veto any bill that allows parents to use public funding to send their children to a private school. 

“I do not believe in vouchers,” Kelly said. “I believe that public dollars ought to go to public schools.” 

Nevertheless, Kelly was panned for sending her children to a private college preparatory school while public school students in Kansas struggle with historic learning loss. 

Dave Trabert, CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute, cited evidence against the governor’s anti-school choice argument, showing that school choice programs help both the students who leave the public system and the students who stay. 

“The empirical evidence also shows that choice programs positively impact achievement for students who do not take advantage of a choice opportunity,” Trabert wrote. “Of the 28 studies on this issue, 25 (89%) found a positive effect, and only two (7%) found any negative effect.” 

Andy Beshear  

Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky has staunchly opposed school choice reforms, even the establishment of charter schools, which is common in many other states. 

“The charter school bill is unconstitutional,” Beshear claimed this past legislative session. “Public dollars have to go to public schools.” 

Though he refuses to support investing state resources in any alternative, the governor sends his own children to a private school that the family reportedly “fell in love” with.  

Meanwhile, the school choice debate has become so heated in the state that some school choice supporters have called for a constitutional amendment to help pave the way. 

J.B. Pritzker  

Although Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois begrudgingly allocated a “relatively small” investment to his state’s scholarship program when it was coupled with increased public school funding, he has strongly opposed tax credits and vouchers for education. 

“We should as soon as possible do away with it,” Pritzker said of the program. “What I oppose is taking money out of public schools, and that’s what happened here.”  

However, Pritzker attended a private boarding school in his youth and sent both his children to private schools in Chicago.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was also widely criticized for sending his family to Florida where pandemic restrictions were loose, while Illinois was largely locked down. 

Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont 

At least two other anti-school choice governors also send their children to private school. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy opposed charter school expansions in the state even though he chose private schools for his own children. 

“New Jersey governor Phil Murphy (D) – who sent all 4 of his own kids to private schools and boarding schools – BLOCKED school choice expansions for lower income families in NJ,” tweeted Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children. 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who attended a private school, also sent his children to one, but he opposes using any public resources to help low-income students enroll in private schools.  

School choice proponent Corey DeAngelis, executive director of Educational Freedom Institute, tells The Lion that politicians who laud public education while sending their kids to private schools undermine their own educational policy positions. 

“These Democratic, anti-school choice governors can talk all they want about the importance of public education,” he says, “but actions will always speak louder than words.”