Private and public parents

Ed reformer Michelle Rhee, who described herself as a “public school parent,” is also a private school parent:  One of her two daughters, who live with her ex-husband in Tennessee, goes to private school. (When Rhee ran Washington D.C. schools, she sent her daughters to public school in the city.)

Anti-reformer Diane Ravitch criticized Rhee for not admitting that one of her kids goes to private school till she was outed, apparently by the American Federation of Teachers.

In New York City, Leonie Haimson, founder of  the NYC Public School Parents blog and Class Size Matters and a Ravitch ally, also turns out to be a private school parent, Gotham Schools revealed.

A fierce critic of education reformers, charter schools, testing and Mayor Bloomberg, Haimson chose private school for her daughter and son for the small classes she wants for all students, she wrote on the NYC Public School Parents blog.

Haimson criticized “Rhee and President Barack Obama for sending their children to private schools with small class sizes while not pushing for the same priorities for public schools,” notes the Wall Street Journal.

“Leonie has to do what is best for her kids,” said Joe Williams, who as head of advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform has often clashed with Ms. Haimson. “The only problem is that she keeps choosing to defend the same awful schools she would never allow her kids to attend.”

At Dropout Nation, RiShawn Biddle backs school choice for all parents, from   Haimson to low-income parents. Those who can’t afford private school tuition rely on “school choice — from charters to vouchers to tax credit programs to Parent Trigger laws to online learning options”  to free their children from dropout factories, writes Biddle.

If public figures choose private school for their own kids are they obliged to support school choice? If they oppose public school reforms, are they obliged to send their kids to public schools?

About Joanne


  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    Why do opponents of Choice hate poor people? Why are they so profoundly paternalistic?

    • Why do we persist in demonizing people who disagree with us by using blanket stereotypes?

    • Stacy, poor people are just a means to an end as far as the the opponents of choice are concerned.

      For some, like Mike in Texas, poor people are a pay check and you don’t mess with a reliable source of income. For others poor people are the underdog whose purpose in life is to exist so those opponents of choice have an underdog to valiantly defend. In neither case are those poor people to be heard from.

      Their role doesn’t include having an opinion unless, of course, it’s in complete agreement with the opinions of their “protectors”.

  2. Crimson Wife says:

    Yes, if you have chosen to send your kids to private school, it is hypocritical to oppose vouchers for children from poor-to-moderate income families.

  3. cranberry says:

    It is unfortunate Diave Ravitch chose to draw minor children into her political battles. Really bad style.

    It seems Rhee does not have custody. Generally, the parent with custody makes the schooling decisions. It was probably not easy to be the child of a controversial superintendent during Rhee’s tenure at the head of the DC school system. I can quite understand the desire to protect one’s children from political enemies.

    Diane Ravitch defends Leonie Halmson’s decision to enroll her children in private schools:

    I wish she would extend the same courtesy to the children of people she dislikes.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    Interesting, I hadn’t commented on this and Allen is hurling insults.

    Of course Allen knows nothing about me other than I disagree with him. He does not know anything about what kind of teacher I am or what kind of kids I teach.

    He’s a typical “reformer”

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      From your prior posts, we do know that you’ve encountered an army of crackhead baby-mammas who you hold in so much contempt you’re convinced that you know better about how to not only educate their little crack babies but all the babies that are forced into our existing public system.

      Your basic premise, Mike, is that you know better than all the dumb marks – cough,cough, I mean parents who may want options. Just options.

      • lightly seasoned says:

        I don’t know much about Mike’s district, but I’ve certainly worked with kids with crack-mamas, lead poisoning, poverty, you name it — and my district is fairly affluent. That sort of thing is everywhere. My kid is in the district in which I teach.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Yeah, the general point is choice shouldn’t be denied most parents most of the time simply because a minority of negligent parents exist. We’re capable of making contingency plans as we already do for families involved with child protective services.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        You mean options like the idiots in Texas have tried to pass, such as giving parents the full tax money being spent on their child so they can homeschool him? Yeah, I’m sure that Crackhead Mama will do what’s best for her child.

        Just like the “reform” crowd will do what’s best for their pocketbooks, not what actually helps kids.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Hmmm, crackhead mammas or evil profiteers. What a simple world you live in, Mike.

          • Mike in Texas may be a bit Cardassian in his communication diplomacy, and he may have been oversimplifying the case, but I will attest that those two cases he spoke of above do exist, and in plentiful numbers (unfortunately).

        • You’ve already made it clear what you believe helps kids – a fatter paycheck for Mike in Texas.

          It’s a good thing you’re so noble or that fatter pocketbook you’ve made it so clear is your just due would make it pretty tough to distinguish you from those wicked “reform” types. Well, other then the fact that you don’t give a damn whether the kids get an education and those “reform” types do.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            Yes Allen, I’m living large on my paycheck, driving around in my 9 year old vehicle. I see you’ve recruited a new know it all to your group. I bet just like you she has SCORES of experience.

            Yes, I think you two don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. As always Allen, the offer stands for you to come visit me and live the life of a teacher for a week or so and find out what its really like.

          • Aw, poor Mike. Poor, poor Mike.

            How’s that? My pity is insincere but then so’s your concern for the kids who are forced to shuffle through the classes in which you count down the minutes to your retirement. I’ll reserve my sincere compassion for those kids, their parents and the decent teachers who get zero respect from everyone employed by the public education system.

            As for your offer, sure.

            Anytime you make the arrangements I’ll show up. John Stossel called Randi Wiengarten’s bluff and I’m calling yours. Just to put things in perspective, I don’t have to do a better job then you in order to justify my demand that you do the job you’re hired to do. I know that’s not the deal you signed on with, got comfortable with and now cling too but the terms of the deal are changing. Would an insincere apology help ease the difficulty of acceptance?

            Lastly, Stacy’s on her own. I haven’t recruited anyone but she’s apparently run out of patience with your whining self-pity and all the excuses you have to offer for the district-based system. So it’s not a conspiracy, Mike but a confluence of opinions. Stacy, and millions of others, have reached the same conclusions I have and for similar reasons. Recent legislative actions in quite a few states make it clear that sort of epiphany isn’t rare.

  5. GEORGE LARSON says:

    When I saw “private and public parents” I thought of this:

    “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents”

    There is something strange at MSNBC.

    I wonder where Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC employees have their children educated?

  6. Elizabeth says:

    We started our DD in public schools that were very good. When we moved to a different State for a new job, we decided to put her in private school because our new district and State was behind the old one in terms of academic standards/rigor. As we were moving in, a new neighbor who happened to be a public school teacher invited herself over and proceded to castigate me for chosing private over public. That made me realize I made the right choice.

    That being said, I respect and admire many teachers. Having volunteered quite a bit during DD early school years, I see that it takes considerable skill to be a good teacher, including a capacity for mulitasking beyond what most other vocations require.

    There are people on both extremes – those who believe any “government” school is necessarily evil, and those who believe that anything other than government schools are antidemocratic. The vast majority of folks who care about their kids education simply look for the best opportunities they can afford, be it public/private/charter and the extreme viewpoints are offputting, to say the least.

    • Florida resident says:

      Dear Elizabeth:
      You go to
      then you go to the school of your choice
      (be it public or privite), then you go to
      “Studnets and Teachers” section,
      then you go to “Student Stats”.
      There you will see all you need to know.
      Your F.r.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Thank you Florida Resident – I actually used this tool to evaluate school sizes, etc. However, Great Schools doesn’t give you much information on curriculum – ex approach to math education, for example. As to parent reviews, you either get the ones that are really happy or really disgruntled, so I question the overall validity of the reviews. The District we moved from was more advanced, even controlling for demographics than the one we moved into, and the better districts were too much of a commute, which would translate into less family time.

        • Crimson Wife says:

          The School Accountability Report Card is required to list the textbooks used in every public school. Now districts often make it fairly difficult to find the SARC, but they are legally required to have one and list the textbook information.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Should I go ahead and book you a hotel room nearby? Get you some Yahoo maps directions to my school?

    • I’m taking you up on your offer. Get that squared away with your local edu-martinettes and I’ll handle my own travel and lodging arrangements.

      it’s OK with you if I don’t hold my breath, right?

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Not a problem at all. The city’s nicest hotel is almost right next door to my school and within easy walking distance. You can stay cheaper on the south side of town. I’m guessing my principal won’t care once state testing is over on the 24th.

        • Mike in Texas says:

          Oh, and another thing. There is no airline service to the local airport. You’ll have to fly into either Houston, Dallas or Shreveport. Shreveport is closer, but Intercontinental is actually a better drive.

  8. Public officials and reformers should be pushing for the betterment of education for all students – those that are in public and private schools. Both options serve various populations of students and we want all schools to be the best they can be. It should not matter where a reformers’ children go as long as they are pushing to make schools better for all students.