Suzanne Fields

Michelle Obama set just the right example as the mom in chief. She made no speeches about Afghanistan or the stimulus for the global economy, but returned from a boffo trip to London and Europe with better press notices than her husband. She visited a girls' school in England, dispensing hugs and air kisses, and charmed heads of state from two dozen nations. No first lady has so dazzled Europe since Jackie Kennedy took her husband along when she conquered Paris and put Charles de Gaulle at her feet.

Nevertheless, Michelle hurried back to Washington early on Sunday for first things first, to get Malia and Sasha ready for the school bell on Monday morning. Despite a grandmother in residence at the White House and a staff of thousands -- well, dozens, anyway -- a mom in chief knows that only she can enforce the discipline that every schoolchild needs and craves.

When she and the president catch up on what they missed in Washington, they should read the latest performance evaluation of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program in their new hometown. It should be of particular interest to a mom who gives the education of children, her own and others, pride of place at the top of the agenda.

Seventeen hundred Washington children attend private school with vouchers under this scholarship program, and two of them attend Sidwell Friends School with the Obama girls. Unlike most programs and schemes in the nation's capital, this program has human faces -- all of them children's -- and the evaluation report will influence education policy across the country.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program is small stuff in Washington, where trillions of dollars are thrown around like Frisbees, but the program drew national notice because a few sentences and paragraphs were tucked into the stimulus bill to abolish the program. Congressmen and figures in the new administration, who like the Obamas wouldn't dream of sending their kids to a public school in Washington, cheerfully killed a program for families not as fortunate as themselves. All in the name of high principle, of course.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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