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Arne Duncan's School Choice

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Unlike Barack Obama, who really had no choice but to move his family to 1600 N. Pennsylvania in the District of Columbia, new ed sec Arne Duncan can move wherever he wants in the area. And since he has two school-age kids, Duncan is probably like a lot of parents who consider the quality of public schools as key in house-hunting.

So while it's not surprising that Obama would choose private schools over the D.C. public schools for his kids, it's also not surprising that Duncan—who is now a prominent, national leader for America's public schools —is choosing public schools for his own children. In his interview with Alyson today, he told her he will send his kids to public school and was zeroing in on the northern Virginia area, which is known for its very good public schools.

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Ummm, yeah. But this just plays up the way in which "school choice" has functioned for middle class families since WWII and the growth of suburbia. I am past the point of begrudging public figures the right to put their kids in a decent learning environment (although I revere the Carters for sticking with the DC system). The schools in our capital are a national embarrassment--and the cumulative flight of the "within the beltway" types who leave the schools for the children of their less well situated employees just demonstrates one of our larger educational problems. We systemically support stratification in public schools through highly localized structures that are heavily reflective of parental income and education.

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