Obama and his administration have fought the successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program for years and continue to do so. This program has freed disadvantaged students in chronically failing D.C. Public Schools to attend the same kinds of excellent private schools children of the president and members of Congress attend—at about a quarter of the cost (see here, here, here, here, here, and here).
But as Obama and his team fight to keep struggling students trapped in DCPS, school officials are expelling students like Avery Gagliano. As the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak reports:
Avery Gagliano is a commanding young pianist who attacks Chopin with the focused diligence of a master craftsman and the grace of a ballet dancer.
The prodigy, who just turned 13, was one of 12 musicians selected from across the globe to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year and has won competitions and headlined with orchestras nationwide.
But to the D.C. public school system, the eighth-grader from Mount Pleasant is also a truant. Yes, you read that right. Avery’s amazing talent and straight-A grades at Alice Deal Middle School earned her no slack from school officials, despite her parents’ begging and pleading for an exception.
Avery’s parents did everything right. While on tour they tutored her, designed specialized lesson plans, made sure she kept up with all of her assignments, and turned in homework. Upon Avery’s return last March from an East Coast concert competition—that she won—her parents were met by a truancy officer. As Dvorak continues:
Deciding that a truancy prosecution over piano competitions was ridiculous, Avery’s parents withdrew her from Deal. And this year, instead of touring the world as a first-class representative of D.C. public schools’ finest, she is going as a home-schooler. And no one is happy about it.
“We decided to home-school her because of all the issues, because it was like a punch in the gut to have to face the fight again this year,” said [Drew] Gagliano, who works at Hertz Car Rental. “We didn’t want to do this. We want to be part of the public school system. Avery has been in public school since kindergarten. She’s a great success story for the schools.”
Apart from the mind-numbing bureaucracy that plagues government-run schooling systems like DCPS (for an excellent discussion on this, see the remarks of Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom policy analyst Jason Bedrick here.), Avery’s case underscores status-quo schooling defenders' biggest fear: parents are completely capable of teaching their own children to exceptionally high standards.
A leading reason why the Obama administration has been trying to kill successful private school and other choice programs is that they prove that even without unionized “expert” teachers, exorbitant public expenditures, and mandated curricula, parents and their chosen educational providers are successful in educating children. A key to successful education is individualization—something a one-size-fits-all system cannot provide.