School Choice for the First Family and Those Who Need D.C. Vouchers

I find it kind of nice to be not-so-famous, without all the media attention. We should just let kids be kids, right? That must be a lot tougher when your dad has just been elected President of the United States.

To show its support for the burgeoning public school choice movement, the people over at Democrats for Education Reform were circulating an online petition encouraging the Obamas to send young Sasha and Malia to a Washington, D.C., charter school.

In response to the petition, the Center for Education Reform’s Jeannie Allen wrote over at the Edspresso blog why choosing a charter school would be a bad idea for the First Family:

While my organization is the nation’s leading advocate for charter school choices, I’m not so sure I want to see the Obamas choose a charter school. Though I disagree with our president-elect on many issues and fear that obsessive government solutions and spending will push us further into a government dependency, I want the best for him and his family when they come to Washington. I want him to have no distractions other than those that impact us all.

With a clever, tongue-in-cheek tone, Allen explains the rigorous challenges, structural inequities, and political hectoring to which charter schools are subject. She concludes:

Charter schools are working for about 1.5 million children, and in the District they are the key to why Chancellor Rhee can do what she is doing. They have opened up minds and hearts to a better way for children. The few that haven’t worked have, like any failing school should be, closed. But despite working 20 hours a day, on less funding and still meeting the needs of the vast majority of their kids, these schools have to fight every day for the right to exist and must put up with political shenanigans that have more to do with adult jobs than children’s welfare.

So stay out of that one, Mr. President-elect. We don’t need you to have more worries than the ones you’ll already have upon arrival.

In the end, Allen won the argument. As the Flypaper blog reported on Friday, the Obama family chose the prestigious private Sidwell Friends school for their daughters:

Regardless, seems like a wise choice since the school a) has dealt with first family students before and b) is similar enough to the Lab School in Chicago to provide (hopefully) a smooth mid-year transition. She might be a First Daughter, but Sasha is still very young.

They may have a famous and soon-to-be-powerful dad, but we can’t forget they’re real kids just like the rest of us. And we ought not forget about those families who depend on the opportunities provided by the D.C. voucher program.