My state representative, Eric Pettigrew (D-37), has been a vocal advocate for charter schools, arguing that traditional public schools are failing our children. Pettigrew is now also a prime sponsor of a bill in Olympia that would split the Seattle school district in two, arguing that distant administrators are failing our neighborhood public schools. And so given his obvious disdain for Seattle Public Schools, one would imagine that Pettigrew must have had a truly horrible experience sending his own children to school in the district:
Pettigrew said the district has gotten too remote to pay attention to all its schools. He sent his kids to Catholic school because he doesn’t trust the public ones in his area.
“When I looked at Seattle Public Schools, I wasn’t willing to take the risk,” Pettigrew told The Associated Press.
Oh. So Pettigrew doesn’t actually have any hands on experience at all as either a parent or a student in the Seattle Public Schools. Yet he just “wasn’t willing to take the risk” of sending his children to the same neighborhood school where I chose to send my daughter for seven years.* Which I suppose makes Pettigrew a much more loving and responsible parent than me. Either that, or it makes him a knee-jerk, fear-mongering elitist who thinks that his kids are too good for the schools where most of his constituents send their children.
Actually, here’s what I really think is going on here: Psychological projection. As an elected official, Rep. Pettigrew is understandably self-conscious of his decision to send his kids to private school—maybe even a little embarrassed. And so he is justifying his decision—at least to himself—by projecting a crisis upon a district whose schools he never even gave a chance.
* For the record, my daughter attends Mercer Island High School, where her mother now lives. Divorce is complicated. But we loved Graham Hill Elementary, and I’m pretty sure Eric’s kids would have been happy there too.