From Allison Benedikt at Slate comes this delightfully provocatively phrased piece, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person”. This seems like a conversation worth having, and one that really gets to the nub of the “take care of your own versus investment in society” philosophical question.
If anything Benedikt, probably knowing how furiously some parents of cherished, privately schooled offspring will condemn her anyway, overstates the drawbacks of her stance: “But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.” I think if there were a concerted effort on the part of parents who have options to opt in to public school, the change would actually be pretty rapid, for all the reasons Benedikt goes on to detail.
This article may have caught my eye because, despite growing up in a different country with a very different education system, Benedikt and I appear to have followed similar paths, and come to similar conclusions: “My parents didn’t send me to this shoddy school because they believed in public ed. They sent me there because that’s where we lived, and they weren’t too worried about it.” That describes my educational upbringing perfectly, and even though there are times when I feel furious and embarrassed at the ghastly holes in my skills and knowledge, even though my school life was at times a miserable pit of bullying and social ostracism, I have still come out believing in public education. Because if my son has gaps in the education his school provides, I believe I am equipped to find him sources for that part of his development. And in the meantime his school benefits from having kids like him there, and he benefits from not expecting everyone around him to remind him of himself.
So where do you fall in this debate? This topic has the potential to be the greatest sure-fire conversation starter since The Slap.