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31

SATURDAY

Growing up in Normal, Ill., I knew that when the summer ended I would face tough choices—mostly at the local Wal-Mart—about the new school year: Would it be wide-ruled or narrow-ruled paper? Pencil box or cool zippy bag? Then there was the mother of all decisions: the lunchbox, complete with illustrated motif. Would I opt for Strawberry Shortcake’s sickening sweetness, Garfield’s sly grin, or the feminine, dominating force of Wonder Woman? But one thing was certain. Come some Monday morning in late August, I’d be headed to Eugene Field Elementary, the closest public school to my house. Kids these days—and their parents—face tougher choices. In addition to public and private schools, local kids have the option of attending one of 33 public charter schools, which get public funds but run independently of the public-school system. Come see the pickins at this year’s “D.C. Public Charter School Parents’ Fair,” which begins at 10 a.m. at Washington Convention Center, 900 9th St. NW. Free. (202) 387-0405. (Laura Lang)