Friday, November 7, 2008

Should the Obamas send their girls to public schools?

A story on SFGate poses the question: Should the Obamas send Sasha and Malia to public school?

Chelsea Clinton went to Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school. So did Archibald Roosevelt and Tricia and Julie Nixon. And Joe Biden's granddaughters are at the school right now. Will Michelle and Barack send their daughters Malia and Sasha there as well once they get settled in the White House?

According to an article in yesterday's Washington Post, many Washingtonians expect them to seriously consider Sidwell as well as other fancy privates such as Georgetown Day School, Maret, and National Cathedral School (Al Gore's girls went here). After all, Sasha and Malia are currently attending the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.
But what about public school?

For the full story, click here.

94 comments:

  1. No way. Security concerns alone put them at private.

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  2. The Obama's will cop-out like the clintons and cite security concerns. It's hard to walk the walk for everything.

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  3. I wish they would go public, but security is the issue. Could they make a public school safe enough?

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  4. As much as I support public schools, and believe that your child can get us as good of an education at a public school as a private, I think security trumps that. Private schools, particularly those that serve a lot of high profile kids, can ensure their security in a way that public schools never could. Amy Carter went to public school though, so its do-able if they were really committed to it. But since their children are already enrolled in a private school I doubt it's on their radar.

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  5. I think the Obamas deserve to choose the education that they think is best for their children and their family, just like the rest of us do.

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  6. I think the Obamas' sending them to private school will encourage more people of color to consider and pursue private education. What a windfall for diversity in private schools.

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  7. Wow, and I thought $25k a year was a lot. Some of those schools are considerably more, and they are not boarding schools. National Cathedral School is over $30k a year, and it is supposably religiously affiliated as well - I know, I know, to be fair, all these schools seem to go all the way through high school .. which makes it a different ballgame. But over $30k a year for lower and middle school seems insane to me.

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  8. Jimmy Carter did it. He is a man of principle.

    I don't expect Obama to do so because his kids currently attend a private school in Chicago.

    As for security concerns, thats a bunch of crap. Those kids will have their own Secret Service detail, more than you and I would ever have. Amy Carter has Secret Service protection.

    Being that most of the public schools in Wash DC are predominantly black/AA, Amy Carter would have been more at risk than the Obama girls (hey reverse discrimination does exist, call it what you will).

    On the other hand, he needs to do what is best for his children and not use them as poster children for anything.

    Whatever he decides, it reflects his beliefs. Just like the Clintons. And the Pelosi's.

    Maybe it is hard to walk the talk. Really.

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  9. I feel for them - having to make what is an incredibly personal decision in the national eye. I realize he's president and all but can you imagine having that amount of scrutiny and second guessing about every decision in their private life? I wish them well whatever school they chose for their girls.

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  10. I don't think by choosing private school Obama would be failing to walk the walk. Has he ever said that we should all send our kids to public school?

    You can be a supporter of good public education for all while sending your children to private school. We support public education, follow education issues closely, and are happy to have our tax dollars go to fund public school in SF, and give to the public schools in other ways as well, but we have chosen not to send out kids to public school here for a variety of reasons, chief among them the yearly cuts to the education budget and constraints on curriculum due to NCLB.

    The Obamas should send their children to whatever school they think is best.

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  11. But I think he is against giving vouchers to families who can't afford Sidwell but would love to be able to go there. Of course, they would have to get in.

    Not everyone could afford the school, even with financial aid, esp if your in that big nebulous always screwed middle class.

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  12. I completely agree with everything that 10:54 said. And vouchers will only serve to hurt public schools; pushing vouchers is not supportive of public schools at all.

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  13. Of course!! they should send their kids to public schools. Amy Carter went to public schools, and it sets a great example. Security is NOT an issue, no matter where the kids go to school. The secret service will do the same quality job at public as at private, 7:28.

    However, if they prefer private, that's their right. I assume they'll go private. I'm not sure the DC public schools are what they were in 1976. I have no doubt they'd have their choice of the Clarendon level school of DC, whatever that is.

    But the point is, any concerns about public shortcomings will be addressed by all the extras they have at their disposal. Just like me. I send my kid to a public, and I have all the money in the world left over for music and language lessons.

    But I do hope they go public.

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  14. The Obamas could send their kid to this school, because DC has a SF style lottery. I'm sure they could forego the lottery. It's rated 10 on great schools, and is 50% white, 37% AA. I would send my kid to this school in a heartbeat.

    Check it out:

    http://www.greatschools.net/modperl/achievement/dc/1#from..Tab

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  15. DC has over 10 schools rated "10" by Greatschools.net. This puts SF to shame. The Obamas have plenty great schools to chose from.

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  16. From everything I've heard, SFUSD is a far, far more successful school district than D.C.'s. That's largely because of the demographics -- SFUSD's lower percentage of low-income students and high number of Asian students (who are overall, on average, the highest-achieving demographic) give it an edge.

    My own view is that public school should be the default expectation for public officials, and they should have to scramble to justify it if they choose private -- as they should have to answer for driving gas-guzzlers (Schwarzenegger and his fleet of Hummers) or living in huge homes (Gore and John Edwards have both gotten dinged for that). One could make a case based on security.

    Sidwell Friends is a glittering island of privilege in a sea of need. When a voucher program was proposed for D.C., I read, Sidwell Friends also fought against a proposal that private schools that accepted vouchers be required to select students by lottery; they fought to retain their right to pick and choose.

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  17. I can't imagine that schools in Sidwell Friends league would ever accept vouchers. Why would they need to? They have a large endowment to offer scholarships to any students they want to accept already. And vouchers can, and should, come with large strings attached.

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  18. Why should private schools be forced to admit students by lottery, vouchers or no vouchers? That makes about as much says as oh, say, SOTA admitting students by lottery rather than by audition.

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  19. Definitely true about Sidwell Friends and vouchers. Whenever voucher campaigns are presented to the people, though, it's represented that the desperately impoverished child in the projects will have access to Sidwell Friends or the equivalent.

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  20. I don't think private schools should be forced to accept students by lottery. But that was brought up when the D.C. voucher plan was being proposed. SOTA, of course, is not relevant to this discussion, unless the Obama girls want to audition when they're old enough.

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  21. I can't believe this thread even exists. It is a private matter. And just because you choose private doesn't mean you aren't walking the talk. There are many ways to do that without involving ones children.

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  22. different Mama,
    Thank you - so well put.

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  23. Can we remove this thread - it really is ridiculous!

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  24. Why? It's an interesting topic.

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  25. It's not like the thread is hurting you! There's tons of discussion going on on the subject on sfgate and on the Washington Post's website. The Obamas are politicians and celebrities. Their lives are public knowledge. I really don't think they care if we talk about it here. Plus, maybe someone on the blog will have insight for them! E.g. my sister who lives in DC suggests that they go for one of the excellent public charter schools in D.C..

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  26. Are you freakin' kidding me?
    SERIOUSLY? this is a topic?

    First of all, the girls are already in private school in Chicago. Secondly, how on earth would a public school be able to handle the security issues that would exist? 10:30: Are you living in dreamland? We're talking about the children of the leader of the free world. What planet are you on? Of course they will go to a top private.

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  27. 4:46 -- No, I do not believe there would be security issues! Amy Carter did it. Give the Secret Service some credit.

    And yes, it is a private decision, whatever they decide.

    What I don't like are politicians bleeping one thing out of their mouths about equity for all blah blah blah and this and that about public schools and then, oh, when it comes to their precious little darlings, no public school IS NOT good enough for them. Pelosi, Clinton come to mind.

    Oh, yes, of course there are lots of reasons why one would choose private when one says one thing out of the mouth and do another, such as having a disability which a public school could not accomodate being one. But these kids do not appear to have such a problem.

    In any case, hate the Republican conservatives moneyed rich folks all you want but at least they make no pretense of sending their children to private school and their thoughts on how to reform public schools.

    And I still think since their children never wanted Dad to be a politician or President, they should not have to suffer one bit for it.

    And of course, their children will go to a private school. They go to a private school in Chicago. I'm sure there are great public schools in Chicago. Anyway, security is an easy out. I'm sure that's the excuse the Clinton's used.

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  28. On thinking about it, since the Secret Service provides security for the president's family wherever it goes, I don't see that it's all that impossible. It's not like the school has to come up with the resources to provide the security, nor like security is an area in which private schools have some special expertise.

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  29. Maybe not physical security, but certainly private schools can provide "information security" (is that a term?)better than public schools.

    My private high school would give you something like 15 hours of detention if you were seen smoking off campus, and kick you out if you were caught drinking or worse off campus! "You are a representing the school wherever you are." They could certainly kick kids out whose parents gave out private or sensitive information about the family, leaked information to the press, etc. There's also that consideration.

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  30. Maybe not physical security, but certainly private schools can provide "information security" (is that a term?)better than public schools.

    My private high school would give you something like 15 hours of detention if you were seen smoking off campus, and kick you out if you were caught drinking or worse off campus! "You are a representing the school wherever you are." They could certainly kick kids out whose parents gave out private or sensitive information about the family, leaked information to the press, etc. There's also that consideration.

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  31. The Clintons did send Chelsea to public schools when they still lived in Arkansas, but chose Sidwell Friends after touring both public and private schools in D.C.… and after considering the advice of their Washington friends (including my hero, Marian Wright Edelman - founder of the Children’s Defense Fund- whose sons attended Sidwell).

    I’m sure the Clintons also had to have considered Amy Carter’s experience when making their decision. She endured intense media attention while attending public elementary and middle schools in Washington. (And that was back when there was still a modicum of media restraint regarding family members of public figures.) While I agree that Jimmy Carter is a man of principle, Amy seemed like kind of a shy little girl, and I think she could have used a bit more protection from “Enquirer”-ing minds. Since we heard very little about Chelsea (or her school life) during the time she was at Sidwell, I think the Clintons made the right choice, at least in terms of addressing the specific issue of their daughter's right to privacy.

    I also think security does remain a major consideration, since it seems (to me) that it would be much easier and less intrusive to adequately secure some of the private schools in DC (without making them seem like fortresses).

    Responding to another post... I‘m curious about Sidwell and vouchers. Does Sidwell participate in a voucher program now? How does that work? I can’t imagine that a publicly financed voucher program would pony up the full Sidwell tuition, so do Sidwell and other participating privates cover the difference through scholarships/financial aid? And what was the outcome of the lottery disagreement? Are participating kids now assigned by lottery… or in some other way? Do the receiving schools screen the kids? (Thanks for any info!)

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  32. God God -- who cares?

    This is as pathetic as the dialogue on THE VIEW.

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  33. I think some kind of voucher program did get established in D.C., but I haven't followed it, so I can't give an educated answer. I just read an article in the Post when it was in the proposal stage about the debate over whether voucher schools could select their enrollees.

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  34. I'm much more interested to see how his policies can restore some funding to public schools and how he solves a myriad of other problems we've inherited. Personally, I could care less what school the Obamas choose for their kids, as long as it's safe and the girls are able to have some privacy and some sense of normalcy. That said, I think it's their family's personal decision.
    Not really our business, is it?

    Amy Carter went to public school in the 1970's. I do believe things have changed quite dramatically in 30 or so years. As I recall, everyone thought they were putting her safety and privacy at risk even back then.

    Too bad some of us have unreasonably high expectations for our public figures. I'm afraid you're in for a big heap of disappointment if Obama doesn't live up to the high pedestal some of you have put him on. Are you going to be disappointed if they don't adopt a shelter dog, too?
    Give the Obamas a break. They are human.

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  35. Obama went to Punahou in Hawaii. Although the tuition there does not compare to the $20 - $30 privates on the west and east coast, it is considered one of the best and toniest in Honolulu. At $16,000 -- its actually quite a bargain!

    My observation is that parents who attended private school, usually send their kids to private.

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  36. This discussion actually is happening on the sfdog listserve:

    <<< Are you going to be disappointed if they don't adopt a shelter dog, too? >>>

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  37. Link please, Caroline. :)

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  38. The ANSWER to this SFUSD enrollment insanity:

    Move to Hawaii and enroll your kid in Punahou!

    (sigh)

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  39. While looking for information about schools in DC (I’m interested in the voucher situation), I came across “My School Chooser- a guide to finding a great school for your child.” This is a pretty interesting (to me) and comprehensive guide to DC regular public, charter public (76!) and private schools… and includes generic info that might be useful to SF families. The guide provides info about school options in DC, checklists to help determine what type of schools provide the right “fit” for your child and family, info to help plan an effective school visit, sample school visit questions, a school visit report sheet to fill out, side by side school comparison worksheet, info on rules and dealines, school profiles (public and private), etc..

    (I put a space before "school chooser"- below- to make it fit, since I don't know the other method.)

    http://www.fightforchildren.org/docs/
    SchoolChooser_2007_2008_Final.pdf

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  40. Whether they "should" send their children to public school is irrelevant as those girls will undoubtedly continue to attend private school. The real question is whether or not Obama's future policies will help the majority of other kids in the US who attend public schools.

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  41. Here is a forum for DC moms and dads with some comments/questions regarding public schools that seem eerily familiar! (Like: “Why do DC schools have such a bad reputation when there are so many good public schools?”)

    http://www.dcurbanmom.com/jforum/posts/list/3285.page

    Also… a little more "on topic": “Which DC public or charter school should Michelle send her kids to?”

    http://www.dcurbanmom.com/jforum/posts/list/30274.page

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  42. I'm impressed that you're doing the legwork, M. After a day at the school fair, I took a quick Google scan, enough to see that D.C. does have a voucher program in some form. Couldn't immediately find the article I read some years ago about Sidwell Friends and others opposing a proposal to require private schools to admit voucher students by lottery.

    Two things of interest that I found are:

    1) Sandra Tsing Loh has already written a commentary about her distress that the Obamas send their kids to private school in Chicago. Loh keeps saying everything I want to say, only she says it much better.

    2) If you just Google Sidwell Friends you get a whole slew of sneers from the anti-public-education right about liberal politicians who pay lip service to supporting public education yet send their kids private.

    It's genuine distress from Loh and neener-neener taunting from Reason, National Review and that gang.

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  43. I don't know if you can really just lump the "right" altogether and say anti-public education. There's lots to be improved in public education. From efficacy in spending to curriculum.

    I do appreciate that the "right" walks their talk, at least they don't pretend to say public education is great and then send their children to private.

    Of course there are exceptions. But in general.

    In San Francisco alone, don't have to go to far, to see the nonsense with which the School Board concerns itself.

    One other point -- the amount of money that is spent on education for the results we get -- pathetic. I can only chalk it up to inefficiency, bureaucracy, lawsuits this and that... its not all because we have bad teachers or that they are overpaid. In fact, far from it. Seems to be a systemic problem.

    So, lets not sneer at the right either.

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  44. According to that dc blog, the Obama girls will be going to Maret. Although I'm not an expert on the different schools, that one does look pretty sweet. I imagine that they like the small size of student body (600 kids K-12) and that all the grades are located on one campus -- they will always have just one drop-off and pickup, even if Barack gets elected a second term!

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  45. I wouldn't say every faction of "the right" is anti-public education, so the "anti-public-education right" is a subcategory, in my view. It's born of the free-market viewpoint that advocates privatization of public services, so what they actually think of the quality of public schools is not even relevant -- when they say public schools are failing it's equivalent to saying Obama pals around with terrorists.

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  46. blah blah blah blah blah blah

    Like a broken record.

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  47. Barack and Michelle's children currently attend the University of Chigago Laboratory School - that's the private school previously led by current MCDS head Lucinda Lee Katz. If the White House were in San Francisco, I know where Sasha and Malia would be going to school! How do you get in to MCDS anyway? We toured and loved it, and Ms. Katz is phenomenal I hear but also hear that there is no way to get in this year, even with connections.

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  48. Veering off topic from the Obamas, but following up on Caroline's comment about privatization of education.

    Would these folks also advocate abolishing compulsory education? I can see their logic -- you don't appreciate what you can get for free. I imagine the theory is, if you pay for your education, you're a stakeholder, and more vested in the outcome. Lots of organizations that give substantial scholarships (i.e., for Girl Scout camp) will never give 100% for this very reason.

    But the reality seems way more complex. How do you ensure that the kids whose parents can't or won't educate them don't lose that window of opportunity?

    Sorry this is off-topic, but I think that educational/NCLB reform will be part of the Obama administration, at least I hope so, so it's good to be familiar with the arguments.

    Anne

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  49. Yes, the extremists among those who advocate eliminating public education also advocate eliminating compulsory education. Here's one of their sites:

    http://www.schoolandstate.org

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  50. Caroline,
    What if a public official chooses to send their child to a school because it aligns with their religious beliefs? I would consider that justified. But then again, I think anyone should be able to choose what they think is the best fit for their family, so really I wouldn't require anyone to justify their their own child's education to me.

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  51. Well, as a non-religious person (currently actively hostile after Prop. 8, actually), of course that doesn't impress me personally, 6:37. But yes, aside from that it's a justification. I just want political leaders to feel they HAVE to justify it.

    What I mean is that I think the default assumption for public officials should be that they walk the walk of: "If our schools aren't good enough for my kids, they aren't good enough for anybody's kids." Of course they have the right to choose to put their kids in private schools, but I do think they should have to think twice about it and defend it.

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  52. And we can agree to disagree, private-school boosters -- no need to waste energy flaming. 6:37 asked my opinion and I gave it.

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  53. 7:01/Caroline -- agreed. I think public officials, especially if they can impact public education should walk the walk or be willing to defend their choices. Oh, of course, they'd twiddle and twaddle with some excuse and we'd all know its bs, but at least, lets just have them go on record.

    Of course, disabilities, religion, those are very valid reasons. But bet for most of them (the Clintons, Pelosis, etc), that's not the real reason.

    You see, some of the these very same liberals (not nec the Pelosi' and Clintons) love to legislate rules for the schools but then, not have to live with it. That's what I have a problem with...

    Goes the same for the other political factions.

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  54. Caroline,
    I'm not sure if that last comment was directed to me (I asked about religious justification.) But just FYI, my kids go to parochial schools. I am against school vouchers, and I voted no on prop 8. For the record, so did everyone I know at my kid's school. We're not all bigots. You didn't say we were, of course. I just felt I should share that with you.

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  55. 7:14 No. 1, I have friends and relatives -- excellent people -- with kids in religious schools. I definitely don't think they're bigots.

    I have a different value system -- I wouldn't participate in or enroll my kids a Catholic institution, because I very (VERY VERY VERY) strongly oppose the teachings and actions of the church -- but those are the lines I draw; I don't expect everyone else to do the same.

    7:14, that's basically my view too.

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  56. Caroline,
    Thanks for your response. I completely understand where you are coming from. I also oppose much of the teachings and actions of the Catholic Church. My friends and I (including our priest) speak openly about our oppositions.

    I respect your belief system.

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  57. Caroline has once again hijacked this thread and made it about her.

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  58. Safety is going to be a big issue for the Obama family. It isn't fair to the school, the other kids at that school, or two the Obama children to worry about all that security.

    Private school all the way for those two.

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  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  60. I have been thinking about the issue of politicians and their responsibility towards schools. I entirely agree that public schools that are not good enough for pols' kids are not good enough for anyone else's kids, either. OTOH, I don't think that's the same thing as saying that politicians should send their kids to public schools. The fact is that the issues of schools and school quality are not something that can be solved by senators, governors, city officials, or even presidents sending their kids to the schools, even though the schools might get a lot more funding. The issues are much more complex than that. I think politicians should be dedicated to doing what they can to make public schools good enough to send their kids there, but in the meantime, I don't see why they should be forced to send their kids to public schools (or justify not sending them there).

    As for Sandra Tsing Loh's essay about the schools that the pres/VP candidates kid' attend - citing Sarah Palin's kids as a way to support public schools is really not such a great argument. While no reasonable person would say that Bristol Palin wouldn't be in her current predicament if she attended private school, it's also not a situation that any parent should be hoping their kids would experience. I think it's dangerous and short-sighted to consider ANY politician based on a single issue, least of all about the decisions they make regarding their own kids' schooling.

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  61. There are some issues that WOULD be deal-breakers for me on a politician. But whether or not he/she sent his/her kids to private school would definitely not be one of them.

    However, it's my personal feeling that private school is a decision they should consider a potential political liability and should have to justify. That's my personal view and I don't expect everyone to agree.

    While I'm throwing fuel on the fire, though: Today's Chronicle covers the involvement of the Mormon and Catholic churches in the passage of Prop. 8, which I consider absolutely unconscionable. For some reason more of the backlash is directed at the Mormons, and there's discussion of boycotting Mormon-owned business and the entire state of Utah.

    But what about the Catholic church? I have an effective idea! What if every parent who cares about gay rights and human rights and not adding discrimination to the state constitution pulled their kids out of Catholic school? THAT would make itself felt, and without harming individuals like business owners.

    Today's Chronicle quoted an anti-Prop. 8 organizer: "To affect* social change, you have to make difficult decisions." Well, that's a difficult decision that would have an impact! It actually seems like the obvious step to me.

    As usual, no need to waste more time and energy flaming me.

    *Wrist-slap to Chron copy editor -- they meant to use the verb "effect," "to cause to come into being." The misspelling messes up my use of the quote to support my idea.

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  62. What if every parent who cares about gay rights and human rights and not adding discrimination to the state constitution pulled their kids out of Catholic school?

    What if every parent who cares about gay rights and human rights and not adding discrimination to the state constitution put their kids in Catholic school? What if you could effect change from the inside out? Same idea as sending your white middle class children to public school...

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  63. There's no way that the Obamas are even considering public school. Even if Barack were not president, he would send his kids to private school. The family has never lived a purely progressive life. They live in a mansion in Chicago (what people call a marginal neighborhood is really a sector near the most prestigious private university in the midwest with multi-million-dollar homes) and he enjoys flying around on his private jet. He openly opposes same sex marriage, and they celebrate their traditional nuclear family, complete with formerly-executive-now-wonderful-stay-at-home-mom-Michelle-who-Look!-just-baked cookies. Why anyone would glamorous these people as socially conscious is beyond me. I'd say that Friends is too liberal for them and they'll go for something far more snobby like Georgetown Day.

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  64. No, because Catholic schools exist for the purpose of teaching Catholic theology along with academics:

    <<< What if every parent who cares about gay rights and human rights and not adding discrimination to the state constitution put their kids in Catholic school? What if you could effect change from the inside out? Same idea as sending your white middle class children to public school... >>>

    That's not at all analogous, because white middle-class children are not inherently resisters opposing the basic principles and philosophy of public schools. By contrast, paying money to the Catholic church in the form of tuition to its schools supports promoting the church's teachings, including the belief that homosexuality is a sin -- and this year supported active promotion of the Yes on 8 campaign.

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  65. The high voter turnout among Latinos and African Americans in this historic election was also one of the factors leading to the passage of Prop 8. Polls have shown that these groups tend to be more traditional in their concept of marriage. So, it wasn't just the churches.

    What is needed is a more effective campaign to personalize the struggle of GLBT families for equality.
    I believe the No on 8 campaign was very weak at doing this, thus many voters didn't "get it" and were misled by an effective fear-based campaign. (which used images of children, BTW).

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  66. I find it ironic that African Americans in particular, given their history of discrimination and oppression, would support the institutionalization of the very same thing.

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  67. This is off topic but to respond --not everyone equates sexual preference to the same level as racial makeup.

    One is born with one's race. Not everyone has decided that being gay or lesbian or transgender/transsexual is due to genetics as in race.

    Not saying which way is right or wrong.

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  68. Hip hop culture is sexist and homophobic. I really wish that Obama would have done more during his campaign -- or would do more now -- but there seemed to be a lot of fear of frightening his base. Every time I heard a song like "99 Problems But a Bitch Ain't One" play at a victory party, I cringed. Let's see if/when Obama actually appoints any women and/or openly gay people to his administration. So far, only straight men.

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  69. Private school is not the institutionalization of discrimination and oppression.

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  70. I don't know what the enrollment system was like when Amy Carter went to her Georgetown (very posh neighborhood) public or what the Obamas might find in today's DC public enrollment system. I do remember people at the time saying that Carter's principled insistence that Amy attend public school was really a pain in the neck for the school, the Secret Service, and Amy. DC is full of private schools that have decades of experience meeting the security and privacy needs of families of presidents, cabinet members, congresspeople, etc.

    As long as an Obama administration supports strong public schools, I would rather see the Obamas put their daughters in a school that can handle the enrollment process and the fact of the girls being there seamlessly. Obama has to deal with an economy in tatters, two wars, looming energy and environmental disasters, and a Supreme Court that may well be hostile to much of what he and a Democratic Congress might attempt to implement (as was the Supreme Court when FDR took office in economic crisis in 1933). That seems like enough to be taking on without their inviting a distracting family and national drama by insisting on public school.

    By the way, the Obamas are not children of privilege. They have worked their a--es off to get where they are. Why do some people begrudge them for wanting a nice house in a nice neighborhood and schools with all the bells and whistles for their kids? And what do people expect from a couple campaigning for national office who have to make multiple appearances in multiple far-flung locations a day to do--go Greyhound and try to sleep sitting up on the bus? These people are public servants. If the policies they seek to implement are in the public interest, who cares if they want and can pay for a comfortable personal life?

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  71. Obama has to deal with an economy in tatters, two wars, looming energy and environmental disasters, and a Supreme Court that may well be hostile to much of what he and a Democratic Congress might attempt to implement....

    We ALL do... and that, my friends, is why I, too, have chosen private school. There are plenty of other things to worry about, and I have no desire to make a social statement on the backs of my children.

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  72. For right now, I am thankful that the Supreme Court is not in the hands of the Democrats. That will change.
    I like a balance of power, regardless of which parties they are.
    Too much any one way has resulted in disaster, history has shown.

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  73. "By the way, the Obamas are not children of privilege. "

    but most people who contribute to this blog seem to be.

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  74. Perhaps it is precisely because they were not born in privileged circumstances that they lack the confidence to send their own kids to public school. Due to their insecurity, they feel that in order for their girls to succeed, they must have every advantage, including attending school with the children of other rich and powerful people. Those who have grown up in more comfortable upper-middle class households realize that their kids will likely thrive in a variety of educational settings as long as they have strong parental encouragement and expectations.

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  75. 8:08 p.m. patronizing much? Jeebus people get your heads out of the sand and other places. Slowly now -
    private school is no guarantee/ public school is no guarantee.
    Take it from several who know and are writing this as a committee. It's all case by case. Match your child and family with the school that is the best fit. Don't cave to the shoulds. That just leads to unhappiness esp. for your child. The Obamas will choose the best school for their childrens unique situation and you should do the same.

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  76. they lack the confidence to send their own kids to public school.

    lacking as well a wing and a prayer

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  77. "I have no desire to make a social statement on the backs of my children."

    Just plain rude. How come Caroline gets jumped all over for her comments, and this goes unresponded to? Because it's generally OK to attack public schools and public school families? I'm sick of people acting like I'm a bad parent because I CHOOSE to send my child to a public school.

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  78. If sending your children to public school is not a social statement for you, great. If it is and you choose to make that statement, great. If it is and you choose not to, great. To each his own.

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  79. I'm pretty sure it's the "on the backs of my children" part of the statement to which 11:18 objected. As do I.

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  80. How about if it's rephrased: I get to make a social statement -- and one that benefits my children, too!

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  81. Hear, hear, 12:54 and 11:18.

    Look, I understand and appreciate that some here feel the public school parents and advocates can be a little bit....zealous....at times in our pride and drive to improve the schools for the benefit of all. And while it's also true that I would be thrilled to pieces if the Obamas found a public school that worked for their girls, I also think they are facing some especially unique circumstances, ones that absolutely no one here can relate to directly. Starting with security issues that are especially concerning given the Obamas' status as first-ever black First Family.

    But. It's been said many times before, but apparently needs to be said again. It is rude, yes, and also dead wrong to suggest that we are treating our children as guinea pigs or making social policy on their backs when we choose public school over private. That's true even when the wider social implications of the choice are part of the mix for us.

    I would venture to say that all the parents on this blog are caring, loving parents who want quality education for our children. If I thought my children were not getting that, I would not send them to their schools. I'm a mama bear just like the rest of you.

    It just happens that my informed judgment is that my children are doing very well in their public schools. They are learning on so many levels--academic content, definitely, and also social and emotional development. They will be well-prepared for the wide, wide world in a number of ways (including being bilingual). They are not particularly sheltered and that has benefited them, as is becoming more and more clear as they advance through the grades. On top of it all, they are happy in their circles of friends and have great school spirit.

    The fact that our participation is both directly and indirectly a benefit to a wider agenda, which is improving schools for all our kids, is certainly great too. I have come to love many of my kids' friends who come from all walks of life--very poor to quite well off--and it feels great to be a part of these truly diverse communities.

    I'm willing to accept pushback on any level of public school enthusiasm that suggests the Obamas must choose public, or that indeed any family "must." But I'm just so sick of hearing that tired old line about how we public school parents are somehow "using" our children to serve larger political agendas. Not so. Definitely not so. We've had a great experience in the public schools and consider choosing public to be one of the best decisions *for the children* that we made along the way.

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  82. I lived in DC with a young child.
    Nothing was more upsetting than the public school system in DC. I used to cringe just thinking about my child attending any of the public schools there.
    I'm just a regular parent, Obama is the President Elect, yes, he should put his kids in private DC schools!!!!
    By the way, I'm happy with the schools in SF and am a public school supporter, but NOT in DC!

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  83. If the President can't make public school better, than who can? The poor families from the ghetto? The middle class that are taxed to death and can't afford private, though they really really want to?
    If the schools are so terrible, I say he send his kids there and demand improvement and accountability and all that fun stuff. See first hand how rotten the schools are. See first hand how rotten the DC has become except for a few streets where the elite live. At least the girls have the secret service to protect them.

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  84. to 8:15 p.m. and all other's who think the Obama girls should go to public school:

    it's not as simple as you think...back in the day of Amy Carter, Secret Service could likely provide much better privacy protection than today, what with cell phones and other instant communication devices that run rampant

    These girls already have enough on their plate being the Nation's first children - please give the Obama family a break and let them choose what they feel is best for their lovely daughters

    Respectfully,

    a SF public school parent

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  85. 8:15pm here --
    Yes, I know they must do what is best for their children -- I'm the one who posted way earlier that said their kids never asked that their Dad become President so they shouldn't have to "pay" or be burdened with any issues that come with Dad being President.
    And obviously, if the Obamas were even the least bit inclined to send their children to public school, they would have done so in Chicago.
    So no, I have no expectations of them changing stream now, and hopefully not to pander to any special interest group or for appearances.

    Its just a bit disappointing but hey, we have bigger issues in this country to worry about!

    When I say disappointing, I mean in that, I want those politicians that have a say in creating legislations and additional burdens on public school to actually then send their children to public schools so they can experience the nonsense that sometimes results from their misguided legislation. (Obama may not necessarily fall in that category).

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  86. I recognize the security concerns faced by the Obamas. But I REALLY wish the Schwarzenegger kids would attend public school, even for one year of their lives. It might make Arnold think twice about balancing the budget on the backs of the kids (along with poor folks).

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  87. Wow, I never thought of that. Do they even have public schools down in Brentwood or Beverly Hills? Of course, I thought Arnold was for education.
    On the other hand, you can't blame AS too much though --education accounts for over 50% of the general fund budget and if there is a deficit, there is only so much cutting you can do without touching education. And you can only raise taxes so much before it becomes a disincentive to be productive.
    It would be nice though if the STate actually implemented some of the changes that his own paneled study said re how schools are funded -- currently, very inefficiently, with too much money earmarked for one program or another. The panel also said their recommendations would result in an increase in education spending (as panel recognized additional needs not currently funded). Maybe that was the ouch that put the stop to that... of course he spent a million or whatever to have the study done.

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  88. 50% or not of the budget, we are 46th in the nation in school funding, despite being one of them most productive and wealthy of them. It is a disgrace that the wingnut Republicans in this state won't even touch the idea of taxes. Somehow we have a system in California whereby a simple majority of folks can vote to take away the civil rights of a vulnerable minority (Prop 8) but it takes a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise any taxes....so the Repubs are holding the entire state hostage.

    By the way, Arnold ran his original campaign on dumping the vehicle license fee, which was a relatively painless way to raise a whole bunch of funds for local municipalities, but noooooo, it had to go. So stupid.

    Of course the whole system could be made more efficient, and it would be nice if he could have figured out how to do something like that. But he hasn't. Instead he kept pushing the budget downfield, and now the deficits are super-scary and once more the kids--and of course any investment in our state's future, i.e., education--has to go. So, so stupid.

    Okay, I could rant all day. I hope Obama sends some stimulus money to the states. I hope he kicks up federal contributions to education (really, in a recession or depression, it is counter-intuitively important for the government to invest in the economy--remember FDR and the New Deal.....this means education, green jobs, infrastructure......).

    Meanwhile, Arnold's budget is either a big political scare tactic designed to get us all to push his own insane party members into some kind of submission, or he is out of his gourd. No grown up leaders would suggest cutting education the way he is suggesting. We may all need to sacrifice more these days, and I'm willing to pay more taxes for the good of the whole. Cutting education to the degree he is suggesting is not appropriate sacrifice, however, but rather folly, the path of decline.

    But does he even understand that, as his kids have the benefit of the best schools money can buy? Perhaps not.

    Rant over. Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

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  89. 9:05 here -- yes, your points are well taken.
    That extra 151 billion of pork tacked onto that 700 billion bailout would have been better spent on education.
    Well see, new President, new gov't. Lets hope the money is not frittered away on all sorts of pork and wasteful spending. Somehow I think Obama is smarter than that though.
    But again, I still think before we spend any more money on education we need to take a look at how efficiently and effectively we are with the money we are spending on education. There is a lot of waste...not nec at the school level but at the massive bureaucracy and pay and perks for the top level administrators and layers and layers of superintendants and what nots.

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  90. People Magazine reports that Michelle toured Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day. No mention of public schools.

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  91. I don't see huge amounts of waste at the central admin level in SF at least; they went through downsizing and pushed money out to the schools, and if anything, they may be a little thin at the central level--though I agree with the priority of sending money forth to the school level. I'm also not convinced that Jack O'Connell's office if full of waste and mismanagement.

    I don't know all; I'm sure efficiencies could be found, but that argument seems a little like an excuse for not fully funding the schools as they should be funded. Spend money to form a committee to find the inefficiencies, but what really happens?

    Btw, the school sites themselves are amazingly efficient in use of funds, as far as I can tell. Wouldn't it be great if each school received the equivalent of an additional teacher? Less than six figures, but it would make a difference.

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  92. School sites do make amazing use of every dime. Simply amazing. I thought of this on private school tours this year as I looked through their glossy brochures and in some cases 16-page booklets. If any public school PTA had just a fraction of the thousands of dollars it took to produce these promotional materials, they would make it stretch for miles.

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  93. Word, 8:47. I've never seen an operation as efficient as my child's public school in using every dime at least three different ways! Not to mention all the volunteer hours and the labor of love of the many teachers who go above and beyond.

    Oh well, we may be underfunded (thanks a bunch, California Republicans and Prop 13!), but we sure have heart and soul, and that's something Mastercard can't buy.

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  94. MSNBC and CNN just reported that the girls will be going to Sidwell Friends.

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