November 7th, 2008
06:14 PM ET

Public school for the Obama girls, please?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/03/art.obamafam.gi.jpg]Mother Jones

Dear President-elect Obama,

I'm writing to you as a resident of the District of Columbia, where you'll soon be moving with your two lovely children. I would like to respectfully request that you seriously consider sending your kids to DC public schools—and not a charter school, either, but a full-on traditional neighborhood public school.

I realize that you've already taken some flack for ensconcing your daughters in a private institution in Chicago. I don't intend to pile on. I understand that choosing a school is fraught with anxiety and it's the most private of decisions. But you are a public figure, so I think it's fair to ask that you give the public schools a boost of confidence by electing to send your kids to one.

Full disclosure: I send one of my children to public school, and the White House is within the same school boundary as my own home. After 5th grade, my kids would attend the same school as yours. So I have a vested interest in where your kids end up, as any school that lands the president's kids is likely to see a host of improvements.

But my self-interest aside, whatever happens with your administration, you could at least leave a lasting impact on hundreds of poor, mostly minority kids languishing in schools that routinely fail to teach them to read simply by sending your kids to public schools.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Terry D - CT

    This is a private family decision. Stay out of it.

    November 10, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  2. Patricia saintilma

    Sending your kids to Public School is not a good idea. It's not because it PUBLIC SCHOOL. For Security reason First Black Man to be the President Of this Great Nation. You need to make sure that you full control of your family, don't trust anybody.........

    November 10, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  3. Sonya

    I hope that he does NOT send his girls to a public school. Honestly, it is every parents dream to have their child educated far better than their own education. And for that reason, if they want to send them to private school, I say of course!

    November 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  4. D. A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Mother Jones:

    Keep in mind the security of these children, they would be an easy target for terrorist if they are put in the wrong educational setting. Remember that we live in a post-9/11 world.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  5. Jackie in Dallas

    Oh, to the poster about who was going to pay for private schooling...we are. We pay the President a fairly hefty salary, and undoubtably, the girls tuitions will come from that. The Clintons sent Chelsea to a private school without fanfare, as did the Carters, and the Kennedys. And even if it were a "perk" of the office, I seriously doubt that the extra expense of ensuring their safety at a public school would be any less than the tuition AND their security at a private school.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  6. Jackie in Dallas

    While I sympathize with the writer's desire to improve education in public schools, truth of the matter is that a public school does not offer the security that a private school has. Those two precious children will be targets, just as much as their parents will be. Every nut case in the U.S., and even some from outside our borders will home in on Washington, D.C. At least at a private school, the odds are that the girls can have what approximates as a more normal environment and the Secret Service will have more control of their safety.

    I believe that President Elect Obama, and his First Lady will likely have educational improvements high on their list of priorities. He is, after all, and educator himself.

    November 10, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  7. Saad, NJ

    Obama and Michelle, it is your and solely your choice what you chose to do with Sasha and Malia. If you send them to public school, hats off to you. If you chose a private school for reasons including but not limited to 1) they receive better education and become brighter individual, 2) security reasons – you will be equally respected and understood.

    However, my request to you is that do your best to make our public schools better. We are a great country – our public schools. if not great, should be very good. And they are not. Our children are the best investment we can make to make sure that we remain a great country. And their education the most important for that reason. Putting the above together, Public Schools should be, if not the top, one of the priorities.

    Realizing the above is no rocket science. We all know that. But this beautiful letter by Mother Jones has revived my spirit to ask you to invest time and resources in Public Schools for the sake better future and I will continue to asking you that, very respectfully.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Kay

    My husband and I both attended public school and intend to send our children to public school. The difference is my husband nor I are children of the president and to make an assumption that if it was good enough for us, it is good enough for them mentality is baseless. We are speaking of two innocent children who could be the target of heartless and dangerous minds. I trust President Obama and feel his interest in his family is far more rooted than mine. I think we can trust he and his wife to make the best decision for his family. I'm sure his critics will find fault in whatever he decides.

    November 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  9. Curious

    As a public school teacher I too think that it would be great for Obama's children to attend public school...but as a parent if safety was an issue it would be private or home school for my kids...

    November 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  10. chuck

    The kids have never been to a public school so it's just fitting that they continue their education in the private school. enough said-.

    November 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Kelly

    Didn't YOU make the decision where your kid(s) go to school?....right, so M/M Obama will make THEIR OWN DECISION where their kids will go for their kids education.

    Let it go.

    November 10, 2008 at 9:39 am |
  12. Jim

    We will see how Barack views public education. I hope that he does not send his kids to private schools. The message will be that the public school system is not good enough for his kids but is plenty good enough for you and your kids. Come on Barack, let's walk the walk.

    November 10, 2008 at 9:23 am |
  13. Dave

    They should send their children to private school for two purposes – security and quality. Then everyone needs to stop saying that money will fix the problem of public schools. DC spends $13,187 per pupil (2002). The highest in the nation. DC schools have 4 problems, Management (being fixed by Rhee), teachers (also being worked by Rhee), students (don't know who is going to fix them) and parents (ditto last comment). If it were my children I would send them to private schools and make no bones about why. I would not be hypocritical by not approving of vouchers for other parents who feel the same way. It should be equal opportunity for all not just the wealthy Obama's of our society.

    November 10, 2008 at 9:18 am |
  14. Romano

    This request for Obama is stupid. So theirs father is president and if he send them in public school not just that they will be in greater danger and that state will spend much more money to secure them, becouase more people will need to secure them, but also paparazzies will be all over the plaice all the time.

    It seems Obama's will become new Pitt-Jolie family for paparazzies, they will be gold for papaazzies, not just for US but world also.

    I suppose market value of the Obama's photos will be a fortune and it is sure thing, Obama's will become new stars., no mater how Barack do the job.

    November 10, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  15. lourdes torres

    Are u serious? The girls will have to be guarded 24/7 & so will Obama. Has anyone thought about their safety? I dont trust the same people that just set the black church on fire shortly af\ter the election. Honestly, I fear an attempt on Obama's life. I pray for him, his family & the people who risk their lives watching out for the first family's safety.

    November 9, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  16. Chris, Ohio

    As a parent I would not send my children to a substandard school system, why would I expect President-elect and Mrs. Obama to send their children to one? From what I've read, it would be next to impossible to guarantee the safety of the two girls. I cannot even imagine how difficult it would be for them to go from the safety and relative quiet of their current school to a public school in DC. Enroll the girls in private school and then work to fix ALL the public schools!

    November 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  17. Jill (Oregon)

    I am sure that the spirit to send these girls to public school exists, however, the reality is this, they will not be able to attend a public school environment, there are to many issues dealing with security for these two girls.

    November 9, 2008 at 7:11 pm |
  18. Fay

    These two precious children need to go to school where they are the safest. There are some things above policy and the children of the President definitely come before any of our wants and needs.

    November 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  19. Julie San Diego, CA

    Barack and Michelle should make the decision that is appropriate for their family.

    Some of my friends send their kids to private school, some send them to public school, and some choose to homeschool. They all have their reasons and their reasons are appropriate for their particular family situation.

    To ask two little girls to take on the responsibility of ensuring the DC school system gets improved is a burden too heavy for such small shoulders.

    I went to a small public school with limited resources – no advanced placement classes, no foreign language classes, limited sports for girls, and virtually no arts and music classes. I would have jumped at the opportunity to attend a school with more choices.

    I contrast my public school education with my young nieces who attend a very good private school in England. The last time I visited, one of my nieces showed me her art homework, an assignment to do a painting in the cubist tradition (think Picasso). She's 15. Then she asked me for help with her science homework – the assignment was to explain how a nuclear reactor and power generation facility works. Fortunately I could help because when I left public school, I made real efforts to make up for the gaps in my education.

    You're not going to get these kind of challenges in public school. Barack and Michelle should consider what's best for their daughters.

    November 9, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  20. Sarah Brown

    It would be a nightmare for those children to try to go to public schools with all the security issues that could be such a huge threat to their wellbeing. Can you imagine what would happen if one of those girls were kid-knapped? .... by terrorists? The amount of security it would take alone would surely be disruptive and cumbersum to any sence of normalcy these girls might try to have. DC's parents need to get on the stick and fix their kids' schooling problems. Please, don't try to make these children take the brunt of all the ugly that is intrinsic to politics by sending them to public schools. If their father pleases the populus they're going to be on top, and if he dosen't, they're in the mud. He surely won't be able to please everybody all the time....
    Don't make those girls into targets!

    November 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  21. Charlee

    I think the education of the Obama girls is a family matter and the American public should stay out of it. This is the first time this issue has ever been raised concerning a President and the education of his children. Obama and his wife are pretty smart, I think they have the parenting thing down and know what is best for their girls. We don't have others outside of our family making decisions for us so why should they? Give me a break!

    November 9, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  22. William of Iowa

    The President-elect is committed to enhancing and supporting public education. Real support lies with the residents of the school districts and parents at home to assure quality education. School boards across the nation regularly reach out to the community for support and routinely see the efforts fail at the ballot box. If publicity or federal handouts are believed to be the answer – then public education will be as shallow as the people who expect those results. The Obama children must be protected, if that means private institutions, then so be it.

    November 9, 2008 at 12:33 pm |
  23. April

    I think they should just give him a chance...they should be able to go to any school of thier chose beside thier father is the President ..but i agreed to Private schools.this is for larry on the blog you is to old to be act and comment the way you do that is children...

    November 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  24. jo

    “Actions speak so much louder than words.” That age-old adage couldn’t be more appropriate when discussing whether the Obama family chooses to send their two daughters to public or private school. Based upon everything Obama said while campaigning, his daughters must attend public school. If he does not practice what he preaches he will disappoint every public school stakeholder in the country. It will also send a clear message from the onset of his presidency that he is a liar!!

    November 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  25. Teresa

    Wonderful article.

    But, no, those girls should be given the highest of high priority safety wise. Let's give them the best education we can. The best that ANY president has given his children. I think we can revamp the education system without the safety of Obama's girls in jeopardy.

    November 9, 2008 at 11:11 am |
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