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If Elected, Edwards Would Send Children To D.C. Public Schools

Not since Amy Carter lived in the White House from 1977 to 1981 has a school- age child of a president attended public schools in the nation's capital. President Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, attended the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

Election 2004The school question was posed to one of the current Democratic hopefuls, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, at a debate in Iowa last week.

He replied that he had sent his two older children to public schools, and that he would send his two young children, ages 3 and 5, to public schools if he were to move into the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Yes. Yes is the answer to your question," Sen. Edwards said on Jan. 4. "I myself am a product of public schools. I would have no chance of being where I am today without a great public school education. My children, my two older children who have now finished school, both went through public schools. They got a great education in the public school system."

Improving public schools is an issue in any presidential race. But do the nine Democratic candidates send their own children to public or private schools?

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has one 17-year-old son attending public high school in Burlington, Vt. He also has a college-age daughter.

On his official campaign Web site, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt says that all three of his children—Matt, Chrissy, and Kate—attended public schools.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's two daughters, ages 16 and 17, a junior and a senior in high school, attend private schools in New York City's Brooklyn borough, according to his campaign office. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun's son, Matthew, 26, did not attend public schools, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has two daughters who are no longer school-age, and his campaign office did not return phone calls about whether they or his three stepchildren attended public schools.

The daughter of Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio attends American University and had mostly attended Catholic schools, according to his campaign office. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark's children are grown, and his campaign did not return phone calls about whether they had attended public schools.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut has three grown children and a 15-year-old daughter, Hana, who attends a private religious school in the Washington area, a campaign spokesman said.

Immigrant Dreams

We are a nation of immigrants, as the saying goes. We are also a nation where immigration policy has become a major topic affecting undocumented workers, legal residents, and students.

The issue's election relevance was reinforced on Jan. 6, when several of the Democratic presidential candidates participating in a debate aired on National Public Radio used the forum to promote ways of helping undocumented-immigrant students gain access to college. The debate in Des Moines, Iowa, was held less than two weeks before the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses.

When asked about changes to immigration policy that would help students, Sen. Lieberman and Mr. Dean both voiced support for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bipartisan measure introduced last year in Congress that would make it easier for states to give students who are undocumented immigrants in- state tuition at public universities.

That bill also would allow foreign- born students who have lived in the country for five years and immigrated to the United States before turning 16 to earn legal residency by graduating from high school or gaining acceptance to college.

"They will contribute enormously to America," Mr. Lieberman said of such immigrants. "So we ought to fix that inequity, open the doors, and bring in a whole new generation of Americans."

Mr. Dean said he also supports the proposal but it would be unfair for states to have to bear all the costs of the change. "The feds should pay for it, because I hate unfunded mandates," he said.

The discussion took place the same week that President Bush announced a major proposal to grant temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants now working in the United States.

—By Lisa Goldstein & Sean Cavanagh

Vol. 23, Issue 18, Page 21

Published in Print: January 14, 2004, as Campaign Notebook
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