Hi, my name is Debi and I am a product of public school. Before you get your panties in a wad about the title, this is in response to a post on Slate called, If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.
Let me start by saying (or admitting, as Slate would have you believe it’s a crime) that I send my children to private school. GASP! I don’t really believe you are a bad person for sending your kid to public school. I believe that as parents we all do the best we can for our kids. If trying our best makes us terrible then we’re all the worst kind of parents.
I didn’t go to private school and neither did my husband. We grew up blue collar. I am one of six kids who had a stay-at-home mom and a father who worked as a forklift driver in a factory. We survived on one blue-collar salary, Tang, public school and all the gluten. We survived. We overcame but I’m not sure any of us thrived in that situation.
Let me put this in further perspective, I was a gifted child in all honors classes and still I was not challenged. I was bored and by the time I was in high school, I was so unchallenged that I hated going to school because it felt like a waste of my time.
I wasn’t thriving because even the best at my public school wasn’t good enough.
When I had children, I knew that if I could afford it, I wanted to send them to private school. More specifically, I wanted to send them to Catholic school because I liked the idea of more challenging academics with constant spiritual nurturing incorporated into their daily routine. Yes, you can do that at home on your own but I like the idea of spirituality and faith being present daily and, perhaps more importantly, how it molds them and the children they spend their days with.
We are not independently wealthy. We are middle class parents who have made the decision that we want to give our children the best opportunity to grow and learn at a young age. In making this decision, we have accepted the fact that we may have to sacrifice other things. Things like extravagant vacations and a larger house. Don’t feel sorry for us, we still travel a couple times a year, our home is in a wonderful neighborhood in the suburbs and there is always plenty to eat. We made the decision to invest in their future but it’s not compromising our present in any way that is too much for us to bear.
The author of the article said that parents who put their children in private school are bad parents because we are doing a disservice to the other children of the world because after all, doesn’t every child deserve a great education? Yes, they do but it is not my place to save the world. It is my responsibility to do for my children. The only way the author’s scenario works is if you take private schools out of the equation entirely. Then, and only then, will all focus shift to bettering the public schools which I wholeheartedly agree needs to be done.
Those who follow her idea of putting our children into public schools with subpar curriculums now to make education better unintentionally make our children martyrs to the cause. I’m not willing to sacrifice my children’s education in hopes that I might be able to make the world a more level playing ground for future generations of hypothetical children. Meanwhile, failing the two I gave birth to. It is not my right to sacrifice their future. It is my duty to protect it.
By this author’s logic, I can argue that if you have the means and you don’t put your child in private school, then you don’t love your child at all. If I am a monster for caring for my children and doing my best to give them every opportunity to excel in this world then so be it because at the end of the day, my only responsibility is to my children.
Raising good humans who are functional, contributing and caring members of society is literally the most important thing a parent will ever do with their life. This is done by being present, be involved and giving them the guidance to achieve their hopes and dreams and that all starts with a good education. The system is failing the public schools, not me.