Friday, November 7, 2008

School Choice: When it Comes to the President

In my last post, I speculated on whether the Obamas would send their kids, Malia, 10, and Saha, 7, to DC Public Schools, particularly given the next president's praise for school reform and charter schools in DC. Today, The Examiner includes an article speculating on where our soon-to-be neighbors would send their kids.

Well, it won't be Stevens Elementary, the only public school in recent history chosen by a president to send his child, Amy Carter. Stevens was one of the two schools closed in Ward 2 this term. It's a shame, since not only is Stevens just a few blocks from the White House at 21st & K Streets, sending the Obama children there would truly bring its history full circle. That's because Stevens was built in 1868 solely from public funds for the education of “colored” youths and, at its closure, was the only one still standing and operating in the United States. When it opened, Stevens was probably the only choice. Today, it could be a real choice, and for a president.

Since Amy Carter, every president has sent their children to one of the area's private schools. That is, every president except fictional President Matt Santos, who West West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie says was based on Obama. Will fact follow fiction, particularly Episode 152, in which the new president, after visiting two private schools, is pleasantly surprised and enrolls his kids in one of the better public schools?

The Examiner considers whether the Obamas might choose Francis Stevens Educational Center at 2425 N Street NW, which is the K-8 school created when what was left of Stevens (a primarily out-of-boundary school used by many who work in downtown DC) combined with Francis Junior High School. This Dupont Circle school is the "in boundary" school for the White House. Other speculation includes one of the District's public charter schools, such as Oyster-Adams (81% reading, 69% math), the bilingual program where Chancellor Michelle Rhee sends her own children. Otherwise, the new first family may be looking at some of the District's private schools.

The Obamas might also consider where the District's own elected public officials send their kids.

All are above average schools, but there's quite a range. At-large Councilmember Kwame Brown sends his two children, Lauren, 7, and Kwame II, 5, to Langdon Elementary School (69% reading, 75% math). At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson sends his 8-year old daughter, Addie, to Eaton Elementary (67% reading, 57% math). Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr.'s children, Raye, 7, and Kai, 4, attend Bunker Hill Elementary (44% reading, 39% math). The District's abysmal average is 36% proficiency in reading and 31% proficiency in math in 2007.

Mayor Adrian Fenty's twin sons, Matthew and Andrew, 8, have attended a private elementary school since they were 2, although the Mayor pledged to move them into a public school during his campaign. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans' triplets, 11, attend two private schools with Katherine and Chistine at National Cathedral School and John at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day.

School choice for presidents -- it could be one of the first, difficult decisions of the Obama transition.

UPDATE 11/11: From the N.Y. Post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Chicago Sun Times had an article today that read "Mayor Fenty wants the Obamas'--and all new DC residents--to consider public school for children". Guess what? I want Mayor Fenty to consider public school for his children.