Over at Hit and Run, Reason’s Nick Gillespie has been covering the question of where Obama will send his children to school. As Nick notes: At Barack Obama’s first press conference as president-elect, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet asked whether Obama would be sending his children to private or public schools in Washington. He replied that no decision has yet been made and that he and Michelle would be “scouting out schools.” As Nick writes in his own open letter to Obama: Which is to say that Obama (as he has already demonstrated via his own kids) is in favor of school choice, at least when it comes to his family (he has said a variety of phoney-baloney platitudes about not “walking away” from public schools and creating more charters, etc.) With that in mind, and as a parent with two kids in public schools, I’d like to write a letter to Obama too:
I understand that choosing a school is fraught with anxiety and it’s the most private of decisions. Please extend and expand the same educational choice you and your family exercise with ease by giving school-age children more and better options. Making every school voluntary by giving vouchers equal to the current average spending per pupil that can be cashed at any educational institution you would be willing to send your own kids to.
The news media and the education blogosphere has been having a vigorous debate over the importance of where the Obama girls go to school. Today, Jay Mathews of the Washington Post calls it for Georgetown Day as the school most similar to the Chicago Lab School that Obama’s children already attend. Over at Fordham’s Flypaper, Mike Petrilli says: Please please, pretty please, pick Georgetown Day!
I’m pulling for GDS for one simple reason: it participates in the D.C. voucher program, unlike Maret. And its selection by the Obamas, I believe, will ensure the future livelihood of said program. It’s one thing for Candidate Obama to oppose publicly funded vouchers on principle. It’s quite another thing for a President Obama to eliminate an existing program and kick his daughters’ classmates out of their beloved school.
The point is not whether Michelle and Barack pick a private or public school. The fact is they get to pick. The Obama family has school choice regardless if they pick a private or public school. It would be nice to extend this “scouting out schools” option to the rest of America.