Mike Petrelli at Fordham’s Flypaper blog defends Leonie Haimson’s and Michelle Rhee’s decisions to send their kids to private schools in, respectively, New York City and Nashville:
I do want to point out that there’s public, and then there’s “public.” In other words, some of the people expressing indignation, I suspect, may send their children to “public” schools that are much more “private” than most private schools. And starting in September, I will be one of those parents (as anyone who has read my book knows already).
Yes, it’s true: Wood Acres Elementary, in Bethesda, Maryland, is a “private public school”—a term that Janie Scull and I coined in a 2010 report for the Fordham Institute. These are “public” schools that serve virtually no poor students. They are open to anyone—anyone who can afford to live in their catchment zones, that is.
We found 2,800 such schools in America back then; I suspect the numbers haven’t changed much since.
Leonie Haimson, whom Joanne Jacobs describes as “a fierce critic of education reformers, charter schools, and testing,” founded Class Size Matters and Parents Across America. (Save Our Schools-NJ is an affiliate of PAA.) She is also the recipient of the John Dewey Award from the American Federation of Teachers. Michelle Rhee, who lives in Nashville, is former Chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools and founder of Students First, a pro-reform organization. For irony buffs, Rhee was outed by the AFT.