An article in Slate last week boldly proclaimed that private school parents are bad people. “Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad,” Allison Benedikt wrote.
Pretty strong words, to be sure.
This year, I’m a public school parent AND a private school parent. Our city has problems with growth. Too many people are moving in, and the government and school districts have not kept pace with building schools to meet demand. We chose a neighborhood that had easy access to a private school, but the nearest public school would be more than 3 miles away.
We chose the private school because it offered our boys french immersion for pre-school, junior kindergarten, and full day kindergarten. All things that would not be available if we chose the public system. The plan all along was to go private for 3 years and then move to public for Grade 1. That’s where we are this year.
Benedikt charges private school parents with the horrible crime of caring too much about their kids, and at the same time charging public school parent for not caring enough. If the public system is broken (and to be sure, it is), it is because there are not enough active and engaged parents on board to fix it because the active and engaged parents are over at the private school campus, she charges.
You want the best for your child, but your child doesn’t need it. If you can afford private school (even if affording means scrimping and saving, or taking out loans), chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school. She will have support at home (that’s you!) and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior education—the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy.
That’s some fine link bait right there. She makes fine arguments that parents need to get involved in the school, but as far as private parents being terrible when compared to public parents? She frankly makes no sense.
Now that I have a foot in each world, I’m seeing first hand the differences between the public and private system.
Here’s what I’ve seen so far. The good, the bad, the ugly, and how, in the end, it doesn’t matter which school you go to as long as you care about your kids. And you don’t have to send your kids to a private school to care about them.