For the last month or so Bravo has been carrying reruns of West Wing, the episodes leading up to the election of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) as the first Hispanic president, with the election night episode tracking exactly with the “real” world election. Brilliant! Today was the “day after the election” episode, president-elect Santos and his wife decide on a public school for their children.
Jimmy Carter, thirty years ago, sent daughter Amy to a public school in DC. The Clintons chose Sidwell Friends, a very classy Quaker private school for Chelsea (currently $28,000 per year). Michelle Rhee, Washington schools head has her kids at a public school.
Klein’s kids went to private schools, his chief of staff has her kids at Dalton. Eric Nadelstern’s daughter went to public schools in the Bronx and is now a teacher, and union activist, in a small high school.
Obama’s choice of school for his daughters will be a major statement. In Chicago his kids go to the school closest to his home, the University of Chicago Lab School, an extremely highly regarded school.
Washington DC has among the most challenged public schools in the nation, and, a rich array of public charter schools, over fifty public charter elementary schools.
The nation awaits the Obama family choice of schools, the choice of a public school, even a public charter school, will be reassuring for those of us committed to public education.
How many upper echelon DOE leaders have their kids in public schools in the city?
I’ve heard Randi Weingarten ask teachers, “Would you send your kids to the school in which you teach?” It leads to a deep, sometimes awkward meaningful dialogue.
It is fair to ask the same of Tweed … why don’t you send your kids to a public school? How can you play a leadership role in guiding the largest school system in the nation if you can’t find a public school for your child?
Leadership is measured by deeds, not words. For the parents of the million plus students a school system leader who flees public schools is not a leader. Joel Klein may babble about education as a civil right, but if he and his immediate staff decide to chose fancy, expensive schools, geared for the offspring of the “talented one percent,” the rest of us are the poorer.
We await Barack and Michelle’s decision.