Should First Children Be Required To Attend Public School?

If President Donald Trump were required to send his son to public school, that institution would immediately be held to entirely different standards.
05/17/2017 09:01 pm ET Updated May 18, 2017

An Obama/Biden meme, a creepily human-looking dog munching on a bag of potato chips, or a dress that is white and gold but looks blue and black even though it’s definitely white and gold…

I’m one of those people that can spend all day thinking back to a thing I saw on Facebook, no matter how silly or provocative. That’s why a recent suggestion that all First Children should be required to attend public school has me more preoccupied than that video of the baby having whipped cream for the first time.

Should the sons and daughters of the sitting President of the United States be obligated to attend public school?

Maybe the question should be: if any of Donald Trump’s children currently or had ever attended a public school, would he still have nominated Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education? Or, would he be attempting to slash 3 billion dollars in education funding from the remaining 5 months of this fiscal year? Or eliminate budgets for our federal arts programs entirely?

To say I understand the plight of personally attending or sending my own children to public school is unfair. I attended a top-rated public school in suburban Connecticut through the sixth grade before transferring to an outstanding private school. My siblings followed similar paths. My husband attended Massachusetts parochial schools until we met at a private college in Boston.

Now living in Los Angeles, our children are part of an incredible independent school (code for private). They have a tiny student-teacher ratio and no homework until the fifth grade, when it is introduced slowly to prepare for middle school. So to say I have practical understanding of what our public school system is like would be a lie, other than to admit that I am frightened of a possible transition into it.

Still, I’ve done my research and I worry about many of the same things other people do. I worry about funding and bullying. I worry about poverty stricken families, and poverty stricken teachers. I worry about Trump saying repeatedly that he will repeal the Common Core State Standards Initiative when it isn’t repealable, because it isn’t law. I worry how Betsy DeVos would score if she took the Common Core tests. I worry about children being left behind.

I worry about my children.

Let’s face it. If President Donald Trump were required to send 11-year-old Barron to public school, that institution would immediately be held to entirely different standards. In fact, teaching ability, campus security, even the lunch menu would improve so dramatically that his public institution could be finer than many private ones.

Based on the cost of protecting President Trump prior to the election, multiple sources suggest that safeguarding Melania and her son in New York City, where they reside so Barron can remain in his private school, now costs nearly one million dollars a day. Granted the First Lady and her son would be protected regardless of their location, but to say doing so 200 miles away from the White House comes at anything less than an enormously wasteful taxpayer expense is preposterous.

What does history say?

After Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, he enrolled his daughter Amy in a predominantly black Washington, D.C. public school. She was then, and remains still, the only child of a sitting U.S. President to attend public school since 1906.

Do I believe that the current President of the United States of America, be it Donald. J. Trump or any of those in the future, will ever send their children to public school? I do not. To be honest, I’m not even sure that they should.

If I were the President of the United States, I would likely continue to send my own children to private school. What we as a country really need to look at is the reason why. In a world that lacks true understanding, empathy and equality such as ours, I believe that is a wonderful place to start.

Karri-Leigh is an established television producer, writer and mother of two in Los Angeles. You can follow her adventures here.

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