The president, in a television appearance Monday morning on NBC's "Today" show, was asked by a woman from an audience whether a public school in his home city could measure up to the standards of his children's private school.
"I'll be blunt with you: The answer is no right now," the president replied. Obama said the D.C. schools are "struggling." There are "terrific individual schools" in the city, he said, and because he is president he could "probably maneuver" to get his daughters into one of them.
Nonsense, I say.
Take all the Sidwell Friends students and put them into a random DC public school. Then take all the students from that DC public school and put them in Sidwell Friends.
(Don't forget the control group.)
Then cook for whatever period of time you think is needed for there to be observable results.
The result shouldn't be surprising to anyone who follows education.
The Sidwell Friends educated students will still perform as miserably as they did in their DC public school. The Sidwell teachers aren't trained to and don't know how to educate the difficult-to-educate students found in the typical DC school. Also, the curriculum at Sidwell Friends, is most certainly not accessible to the typical DC student. Never has been.
On the other hand, the DC public school educated Sidwell students will perform about the same as they did back at Sidwell. The quality of the teachers and the curriculum won't matter much. It doesn't take a fabulous super-teacher to educate the kind of kids who go to Sidwell. And, as far as the curriculum goes, what's being peddled at Sidwell is only superficially different (from an instructional basis at least) than the curriculum used in every other school.
Tuition-wise the DC public schools have about $26,000 per pupil to squander far more than it takes to teach students how to read, write, do basic math, and learn some content. Sidwell is only about 20% higher and no one believes that money is needed to educate the students at Sidwell. Everyone knows that tuition is high at Sidwell in order to keep out the kind of kids that typically go to the DC Public schools.
As far as the "terrific individual schools" in the city line goes, these are mostly magnet schools, i.e., schools that use the admissions process also keep out the the kind of kids that typically go to the DC Public schools. Might as well call them Sidwell-lite schools.