Funny, it was hard to get a standard transmission. Nobody wants them anymore but both my wife and I learned on standards and our kids will be learning to drive in a few years so we want them learning on a standard so that they know how.
This has always been my thinking too. I make the kids learn to drive my F150 5speed manual before they can get their license. The older one thought it was fun, the second one has fought it pretty hard but was the only person in her group who could move a car out the way one night because it had a manual in it. She still doesn't like to drive a manual but now understands when Dad said "you don't have to ever buy one but you need to know how to use one so you don't stranded somewhere just because the only car available is a stick shift." 8^)
The next one can see over the dash of my truck yet but I've still got a year.
I've heard good things about the newer Kias.