Like others are saying, I agree with the general principle of this article – it would be great if we were all invested in a child’s education. But the truth is? We’re not. I spent a few years working as a substitute teacher in both public and private schools. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that my days in the private schools were always better.
They generally had much smaller class sizes – 10 to 20 kids.
The parents were more involved on a day-to-day basis, the administration and faculty members seemed to know most, if not every child. I recall the principal at one school greeting each child individually by first name and asking them questions about things they had been doing lately one morning.
Meanwhile, I graduated from a public school that’s sinking, sinking, sinking. I did well in school – I worked hard and took it seriously. I had many classmates who did not – and their parents often did not. I remember angry parents storming into the school to confront teachers who had given their “precious, perfect babies” a deserved bad grade.
My husband and I live in the same general area. Right now, the high school and junior high school in our city are OK. But I’ll admit there’s a little snootiness going into my decision.
While we’re by no means affluent, our income is considerably higher than many people around us. There’s a reason that poverty and crime are so closely intertwined. Unfortunately, the poorer you are, the more likely you are to be a person I wouldn’t want to associate with. If I put my child into a school where the majority of his peers are going to be in that category, I’m risking him running into a lot of bad influences.
I don’t want my kid growing up with the “thug” mentality I encountered in school. I don’t want them around kids who are doing drugs (I knew several in school, along with dealers – and I’m not talking about marijuana), getting drunk and so on.
If I can afford a better environment – whether or not the curriculum is any better – it’s well worth it to me. I’m not even 10 years out of high school and a significant portion of my graduating class is behind bars, addicted to drugs or dead. Some were beaten to death or shot in gang fights; some died of drug overdoses and so on.
My kid comes first – over the long-term speculative future posed by Slate. Everybody has to be in. At least with a private school – where parents are paying tuition – there’s a higher likelihood of that.
I’ll never forget leaving one of the private schools where I was teaching one day. I complimented the Principal on how wonderful his students were. He responded, “Parents who put their money toward a private school are generally the parents who care the most.” It had never dawned on me before – but it was true. He was telling me how involved parents were in all the school organizations, fundraising, etc. It showed in their kids, too.
As for whether or not I will enroll my child in a private school? Money, and the situation of the schools later on, matters. In this area, the public elementary schools are usually okay. It’s not until junior high that it starts getting awful.