White House Easter Egg Roll ticket giveaway excludes private schools, parents say

03 25 2010 Adults2 DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee receives an Easter basket filled with 3,000 reserved tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan

The White House has announced it has reserved 3,000 free tickets for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll for Washington, D.C.-area public and charter school students, but some parents of private or parochial schoolchildren are questioning why their children were not eligible for the reserved tickets.

The annual Easter Egg Roll will take place from 7:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Monday, April 5 on the South Lawn of the White House. The South Lawn will be opened to children ages 12 and under along with their families to enjoy the egg roll as well as sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, and storytelling.

According to the White House, the event’s theme is “Ready, Set, Go!” It is tied to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative targeting childhood obesity.

The 3,000 reserved tickets for the event will be distributed to students at 11 D.C. public schools and several schools in Virginia and Maryland, CNSNews.com reports. Children of other schools may attend the event only if they have registered for the online lottery system through which another 27,000 free tickets will be distributed.

At the Tuesday press conference where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the ticket giveaway, the father of a parochial school student asked why private and parochial schools were excluded.

“These tickets are from the White House to public schools, and we’re appreciative, but there may be other things unrelated to this press conference,” Fenty responded, according to CNSNews.com. “That’s a great question.”

The lottery for the 27,000 tickets is now closed and its results were announced on March 4. The application deadline was Feb. 28.

Robert Brannum, whose son Nicholas attends St. John’s College High School in D.C., told CNSNews.com he thinks the 3,000 tickets should be available to all students.

“The White House is a public building,” he said. “The tickets are essentially being paid for with public dollars. So it should be open to everyone, not just going to select categories of students.”

Brannum, who attended and taught at D.C. public schools, said parents of private schooled, parochial schooled, and home schooled children pay taxes and “should be able to participate in some of the benefits of being citizens of the District of Columbia.”

The White House Easter Egg Roll is a tradition dating back to 1878.

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