Pawlenty's older daughter is attending private school

  • Article by: NORMAN DRAPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 12, 2007 - 8:51 PM

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a key player in setting policy for Minnesota public schools and allocating billions of dollars for public education, has chosen private school for one of his daughters.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a key player in setting policy for Minnesota public schools and allocating billions of dollars for public education, has chosen private school for one of his daughters.

Pawlenty's daughter Anna is attending an undisclosed private school this year after going to public school in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district for years. Mara, the younger of his two daughters, still attends public school in the district. Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung wouldn't identify Anna's new school or Mara's current school, citing "security and privacy concerns."Governor Pawlenty believes District 196 [Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan] is a great school system and his family is very satisfied with it," McClung said. "His younger daughter continues to attend public school in the district. However, the governor's older daughter's new school provides a faith component that public schools understandably can't offer. ... The governor's public stance is all families should have the opportunity to send kids to schools of their choice, being public or private. He is a supporter of school choice."

District school board chairman Rob Duchscher said Pawlenty, public official or not, has the right to choose.

"I won't speculate on his reasons," Duchscher said. "Given his situation, he probably deals with complexities the average parent doesn't. If someone wants to put his children in parochial or private school, that is an individual decision I fully support."

It's not unusual for high-profile public officials to have children in private schools, with former first child Chelsea Clinton a prominent example.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has a daughter in private school. Others, including Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, have children who have attended private schools in the past. On the other hand, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's two children attend St. Paul public schools.

Rybak said what's important is not so much where a policymaker's kids go to school as the support for public schools.

"I don't have any knowledge of [Pawlenty's private school choice] so I can't comment on his situation," Rybak said. "I feel no matter where someone's child goes to school it's incredibly important, especially right now, for public officials to be actively engaged in supporting public education."

Norman Draper • 612-673-4547

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