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Checchi Says He Would Not Send His Children to State's Public Schools

April 23, 1998| From Times Staff and Wire Reports

SAN FRANCISCO — California gubernatorial candidate Al Checchi, a Beverly Hills millionaire who has made education one of the main themes of his campaign, has said he would not "sacrifice his children's future" by sending them to the state's public schools.

Checchi, one of three major candidates for the Democratic nomination in California's June 2 primary, said in an interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that he would not consider a public education for his three children.

"Of course not, why would I do that?" Checchi said.

"By making the choices I have made, I am demonstrating that public schools are not up to the par they ought to be," Checchi said. "I'm not going to sacrifice my children's future."

Checchi, a former Northwest Airlines executive, has a son in college and two daughters, ages 17 and 12, in private schools.

Rep. Jane Harman, one of Checchi's main rivals for the Democratic nomination and wealthy in her own right, has two children in private schools in the Washington, D.C., area, but has said she would "consider" putting them into public schools if she were elected governor.

Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, also vying for the Democratic nomination, has no children. California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, the presumptive Republican nominee, has three grown children who attended private schools.

Checchi acknowledged that he is "very, very fortunate" to be able to afford private school, but said he does not support proposals to give school "vouchers" to lower-income families to allow them to make their own educational choices.

"The answer is to fix the public schools," Checchi said.

California's public school system, once one of the best in the country, now languishes near the bottom of the national rankings on spending and computer access.

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