Thursday, November 13, 2008

What School for the WeeMichelles?

From The

The Obamas' Class Struggle
By Meera Bowman-Johnson |

Public? Private? The always-tough school search is even harder if you're black...not to mention the first family.

...........I guess that's why, in addition to being generally thrilled for Michelle Obama, I'm so happy that the self-proclaimed "mom in chief" is getting closer to the peace of mind that comes with finding the right school for her children. I seriously doubt her daughters had to wait on any waiting lists whatsoever, as mine did. But I can still relate to what she's going through. Because in the end, finding the right school is a cathartic moment for any concerned parent, whether they're moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or not.

Most parents struggle with where to send their kids to school. But the decision can be especially agonizing for upwardly mobile black parents. There are worries about low expectations from teachers and peer pressure to value coolness over studiousness. Inevitable accusations of "acting white." Then there's an extra pressure to ensure that your children continue to carry your family forward, rather than erase the gains of the past. And of course, there is the ever-present, if often unreasonable, expectation to lift your whole community along with your nuclear family as you climb.

Earlier this week, Mrs. Obama visited several private schools in the D.C. metro area, including the Georgetown Day School, Sidwell Friends (the Quaker school that Chelsea Clinton attended) and a third, the Maret School. All three are comparable to the University of Chicago Lab Schools (otherwise known as "The Lab") that Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, currently attend.

The Obamas' choice to send their children to private school speaks volumes about their value system. And that an investment in their children's future is the most important one they will ever make. As if Bill Cosby isn't proud enough of them already.

But months before the election, speculation swirled about what type of school the Ivy League-educated power couple would choose for their daughters. Some critics argued that by choosing a public school education, the civic-minded Obamas would make a powerful statement about their faith in the American public education system. Sending Sasha and Malia to public schools, some argued, could reignite a widespread interest in public schools among more educated, middle-class parents.

I don't think this is very hard. Until I went to college and met folks from DC, I didn't realize just how pathetic the public school system was. I mean, I just assumed that, as with other cities, there were a handful of select public schools, as good as the private, that middle-class parents who didn't want to move to the suburbs, schemed and clawed their way into. Whether in college or graduate school, I didn't meet one person, Black, White, Latino, Asian, who went to a DC Public School. Suburban VA & MD Public - yes. But, an actual, honest-to-God DC Public School - no.

The WeeMichelles aren't some political statement, and neither is their education.

Off to private school they go.

Though I do wonder why no single-sex schools have been mentioned. I'm a big fan of single-sex education.


rikyrah said...

I found this comment at another blog:

Yes, safetly is the primary issue.

But school is not all about academics. It is main purpose is prepare children for the roles they are expected to take in society. This preparation apparatus comprise of the school, institutions connected to said school and the parental network system (are lack thereof).

I am a NYC school teacher who work on average of 10 schools a year in New York City.
I come this conclusion from professional observation.

Some school prepare students for incarceration. Some schools prepare students to be unemployed. Some schools prepare their students to be employees, Some schools prepare their students to have careers. Some school prepare students to become world leaders. Tell me a public school in DC that prepare their students to become world leaders.

Barack Obama is a world leader. Soon to be the most powerful person on THE PLANET EARTH. The WeeMichelles are daughters of such person. Public School --are you serious?. They will continued to be pickled in the environment that create world leaders.

Brian said...

They're in a bit of a tough position. On one hand... by putting them in a public school... the Obama's would show that they have some faith in the public School systems that they talk so much about as being a key for America's future. It may get tricky for them to advocate for public schools...or even for Charter schools, when their own children go to private school.

On the other hand, many of the public Schools in the immediate area may not be what they are looking for. From what I have read... there are a lot of struggling schools in the immediate D.C. area. But i'm sure there are a few good public schools there.... although they may have to look harder.

It will be interesting to see what they decide to do.

I thought I heard a report today that they either made a choice...or were close to making a choice.

If I were in their position... I would try my hardest to find a good public school.

I can already hear the criticisms in my head...if/when they go private.

Although no other President has been scrutinized so closely on this subject... I guess i'm guilty of it myself... mainly because this was supposed to be about "change". I think it would be a bold move for them to go the public route...and it would send a message.

But in the end, they have to do what's best for their children. PERIOD!

But that doesn't necessarily mean private school.

There are some public schools that are just as good as the fancy private schools.