Isn’t It Nice: Obama Can Choose!

Speaking of school choice, here’s the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews on President-elect Obama’s upcoming school selection.

Read it and then let me know: Could Mathews be any less critical? Jay regularly dodges any meaningful discussion of private-school choice reforms like vouchers while railing about such peripheral tweaks as increasing Advanced Placement offerings. Apparently, school-choice reforms don’t even rate when the incoming President—a choice opponent—is about to choose a school for his kids. Jay just happily discusses Mr. Obama’s impending decision with the friendly warmth of a helpful new neighbor, for all intents and purposes dodging not just the political implications of the President-elect choosing a private school for his own kids, but the exceptionalism that seems to be heading his way within the public-schooling system.

“One educational gem happens to be the closest public school to their new home,” Jay writes, after noting without a hint of reservation that the Obamas will probably choose the private Georgetown Day School. “Strong John Thomson Elementary School is at 1200 L St. NW, three-fifths of a mile from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

There are a few minor problems, though, with getting into Thomson, problems that would be deal-killers for normal DC citizens. One is that “the White House is actually in the attendance area of the Francis-Stevens Educational Center.” President-elect Obama wouldn’t want to send his kids there, though, because “that is a recently merged school with a new principal.”

Another problem is that Strong John Thomson is, according to Mathews, “close to capacity.” But no worries. The principal “said she would have room after the holidays for a fifth-grader and a second-grader transferring from the Midwest.”

When the time finally comes for Mr. Obama to select a school for his kids, would it be too much to ask that the education columnist in the Washington Post not dodge the actual political implications of the decision? I know these kinds of decisions are too personal to listen to ”kibitzing from outsiders,” but I’d sure hate for people to perceive some kind of a media bias.