On the NY Times blogs, Sandra Tsing Loh is depressed to discover that Barack Obama sends his kids to private school, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (tip to Tim Blair). She asks: Why can't he send his daughters to public school?
Personally, I compliment the Obamas for not using their children as political pawns to get elected or to reform society two children at a time. In my opinion, that makes the Obamas good parents.
By the way, Sarah Palin sent her kids to Iditarod Elementary School.
Ms. Loh at the Times blog:
I do not know why Barack and Michelle Obama cannot send their children to a nice public school in Hyde Park. You understand that I am a bit unstable this election season (I voted for Hillary) and I do my research by erratically Googling from home. And all I know about Hyde Park — and, readers, I'd love to be corrected if I'm wrong — is that even though real estate prices seem high, the brave little public schools in its ZIP code seem to be flailing. Their scores on www.greatschools.net are largely 2's and 4's (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best). When you read the tea leaves as manically as I do, those low numbers suggest that few children of educated, middle-class children are attending the local schools. Rather, they've withdrawn, with nary a ripple, into their whispery private enclaves.
Let us not even touch the term "community organizer," so buffeted about, by both sides, like a balloon at a rock concert. Let us just say that if Mr. and Mrs. Obama — a dynamic, Harvard-educated couple — had chosen public over private school, they could have lifted up not just their one local public school, but a family of schools. First, given the social pressure (or the social persuasion of wanting to belong to the cool club), more educated, affluent families would tip back into the public school fold. And second, the presence of educated type-A parents with too much time on their hands ensures that schools are held, daily, to high standards. . . .
So it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school's Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we're at it, a pox on John Dewey! I'm sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about "building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship" in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.
Meanwhile, Joseph Biden, the Amtrak senator, standing up boldly for the right to be a Roman Catholic, appears to have sent all three children to the lovely looking Archmere Academy in Delaware. Archmere's Web site notes some public school districts allow Archmere students to use public school buses. Well, isn't that great — your tax dollars at work in the great state of Delaware because with $18,000 a year in tuition, they can't afford their own buses.
Then again, a spot of happy news for the Democrats: not only did John McCain's four children attend elite private schools in Arizona, but collective donations to their children's private schools between 2001 and 2006, totaled $500,000.
And yes, I know I appear to be ranting on like a pit bull without lipstick, which brings me to the final nail in the coffin in this sorry election year. As a Democrat I am horrified that Sarah Palin is the one who snagged the deeply profound — and absolutely ignored by professional smart people — emotional real estate of "P.T.A. mother." I too am, in fact, not just "my kids' mom" but their Title I Los Angeles public school P.T.A. secretary. This unheard female howl is, for better or worse, what Ms. Palin has set out to tap into; it is real, and I am sick that we've let the Republicans charge this ground.
Sarah Palin's children went to what looks like a humble little public school: Iditarod Elementary on Wasilla Fishhook Road. The school's score on www.greatschools.net is a 4. That's a lot of street cred, for a gun-totin', snow-mobilin' creationist-lovin' lady.
Oh, I'm such a depressed, Democrat P.T.A. mother.
First, the UC Lab Schools should be forgiven for quoting John Dewey. It was his school; it was his "laboratory"; he founded it.
Second, one of the things I admired about Bill Clinton when he became President in 1993 is that he refused to give in to the pressure to send Chelsea to a mediocre public school, sending her instead to a good private one. A president might have to miss a lot of important events in his daughter's life, but at least he needn't use her as a political pawn to the detriment of her education.
I went to public schools in Rockford, Illinois until I went to Yale College. If the public schools are good, why not? If they are poor, then send your kids to a private school. If they are close in quality, I would lean toward public schools.
Third, I should disclose that i sent my daughter to the Lab School from nursery school through high school. Academically, it was excellent. It was, however, a bit cliquish and very left wing.
Fourth, why does Ms. Loh consider it a bad thing for the McCains to be generous with charitable donations to private schools?