Thursday, November 13, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

The MSM reported yesterday that Michelle and Barack Obama visited some D.C. public schools as part of their search for new schools for their daughters after they move into the White House. They also planned to visit Sidwell Friends School (tuition $28, 442, plus fees, for the Lower School) and similar private schools before they make their decision.

Gee. I wonder which they'll pick.

I understand their dilemma. I really do. It's tough finding a new school for your beloved child.

My first school search experience took place in Massachusetts. We were living in Berkshire County, one of the East Coast centers for preciousness, and we were looking for a preschool for our newly adopted daughter. The preschool at the Stockbridge elementary school (that's Stockbridge as in Alice's Restaurant, by the way) was highly recommended. I seem to remember it was privately run, but held inthe public school. So we went to check it out.

The preschool was run by a married couple who had been teaching together for more than 20 years. If you go to Hollywood and call Central Casting and say "Send me some aging hippies pronto" these two, or their twins, will show up. But they were very nice and pleasant, and seemed to really enjoy their work and the children they taught. We stuck around to watch a while.

Out on the playground a conflict developed. A little boy wanted to play on the swing; a girl was on it; he shoved her off and took over. The little girl ran to a teaching assistant, crying. "He pushed me off the swing!' she sobbed.

"Tell him how that made you feel," the teacher counselled.

Seconds later you could have heard an enraged child screaming "IT MAKES ME FEEL SAD WHEN YOU DO THAT!" for at least ten miles.

This did not seem like proper training to us. "Wait your turn" seemed more appropriate. Maybe even "Kid, if you push people around, one day one of them is going to push back and you won't like it, so a little enlightened self-interest, okay?" But they really believed in the rule of Feelings, I guess.

After we'd said our goodbyes we left the school by the front door. There was a sign taped to it:

"Stockbridge Elementary School will be closed for Memorial Day. Where have all the flowers gone..."

At this point the spouse snapped. "That's it! We're moving!"

"You're going to see this kind of thing everywhere," I said.

"Not if we move to Prussia!"

We then visited a school in the next town, privately run and not in a public school environment. The teachers did not allow things like pushing or grabbing. We picked that one.

Good luck, Obamas. Hope you find the right place. And remember, vouchers are evil, evil, EVIL.

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