Education for the Privileged?

The Associated Press produced an article that appeared in the morning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (June 11, 2016) that well-frames Chicago’s education system, and maybe the public educational system too often found in certain communities across this country. Malia Obama, a beautiful young lady, by the way, the daughter of President Barack and Michelle Obama graduated from the private school named Sidwell Friends this past Friday. She will take a break with what has been labelled her “gap year” before she goes back to school as a freshman at Harvard in the fall of 2017.

The article went on to indicate that the Obamas will be living in the Washington, D.C. area for several years so that their second daughter, Sasha, can finish her high school education at the Sidwell Friends school.  That, too, shows the parents’ concern for their children to have the best education possible, and that is commendable.

But what remains unspoken is the apparent sorry condition of the Chicago area public schools if the President and First Lady will not return until at least after Sasha has been given the opportunity for the same excellent education her sister received, and that is understandable from the parents’ perspective.  The Obamas are doing what virtually every parent would do if they were afforded the opportunity.  They want to send their children to the best educational facilities they can, and, fortunately, they are able to do so.

Apparently the President and First Lady, given the opportunity to make the decision, decided they’d avoid the Chicago school system given its state until at least after their second daughter had been afforded the best education possible.  And that is commendable as I said earlier. What remains as the ugly 800 lb. Gorilla in the room: why hasn’t more been done by our federal government to enable improved schools all across this country during the reign of this president for the past  eight years?

Certainly if the people operating Sidwell Friends can determine how to provide a better education to produce a better graduate, there must be any number of people who could do that in communities all across this country if they were enabled.  I imagine that the Sidwell Friends per student budget exceeds that of the Chicago public school system, or the Milwaukee system, or any number of other large city systems.  But the answer can’t be as simple as admitting that better funding might well enable better educations.  It can’t be as simple as those who are able to afford an education at any of the Sidwell Friends-type institutions across our land are simply brighter to begin with thereby contributing to the mystique of that institution.

Might it be that federal intrusion and federal guidelines are significant parts of the problem we face?  Might it be that our local educational systems could go back to providing school lunch programs that were actually enjoyed by the students if it weren’t for federal guidelines thrust upon us by Michelle Obama that are enforced with threats that deviation will cause a reduction in money made available to the offending institutions?

Might it be that Sidwell Friends turns out such well-educated students because it is not subject to all the federal rules and regulations to the degree that our public schools all across America are?  Might it be that restoring unencumbered local school boards with the power to make their own curricula decisions might produce better graduates?

Will we ever be granted the opportunity to learn the answers?  I think Hillary Clinton is too well-entrenched in that world to make such a difference if she were to become our next President.  And, the jury is still out on Donald Trump.

In the meantime, children will be at risk unless they are from wealthy families, or so it appears.

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