Many have wondered whether Donald Trump has ever set foot in a public school. He has said during the campaign that he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES” charter schools. In that sense, he is allied with Peter Cunningham of Education Post, Campbell Brown of The 74, the billionaire Waltons, the billionaire Gates, the billionaire Eli Broad, and every Republican governor.

It is unknown whether he has ever visited a charter school.

But there is documentary proof that he did visit a New York City public school 19 years ago, when he participated in a program called “Principal for a Day,” sponsored by a civic group called PENCIL.

Trump visited PS 70, and his idea of generosity was to hold a lottery for 300 students in fifth grade, with only 15 winners, who would get free Nike sneakers at the Nike store in Trump Tower. Here is the contemporary account of his visit by the New York Times. The chess team was trying to raise money to go to an out-of-town tournament, and the fabulously wealthy Trump chipped in a measly $200.

When he learned later that many children were upset because they lost the lottery, he increased the number of free sneakers.

The New York Times reported:


“For his first act as Principal for a Day at Public School 70 in the Bronx, Donald J. Trump — the Trump of the high-rolling hotels and chandelier-encrusted casinos — gave a speech to an auditorium full of fifth graders.

Make the speech inspiring, he was asked, something to encourage a group of children whose universe is one of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods and whose school is so impoverished that it has been scratching and scrimping for enough money to take its championship chess team to the national competition in Tennessee this spring.

Mr. Trump glided to the microphone.

”First of all, who likes Nike sneakers?” he asked. All 300 fifth graders raised their hands. Mr. Trump leaned in to drop the bombshell. ”If everybody puts their name on a piece of paper right now, I will pick 15 people and I’ll take you to the new Nike store that I just opened at Trump Tower.”

The fifth graders erupted in frenzied excitement at the promise of a trip to what Mr. Trump described as the ”inner city called 57th and Fifth.” But a little while later, 11-year-old Andres Rodriguez had a question.

”Why,” asked Andres, whose father is dead and whose mother cannot work because of a bad leg, ”did you offer us sneakers if you could give us scholarships?”

It was a split second that split the distance wide open between the world of P.S. 70 and the celebrity constellation of Mr. Trump, who did not go to public school and whose children do not either.”