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public school, private school, bad parent, good parent, education

If You Send Your Kid to Public School, You’re the Worst

by Deborah Cruz

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.

Are we bad people because we didn’t send our children to public school?

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Katrina 2015/03/18 - 11:51 am

I love this post. I definitely think parent should have the write to decide public or private education and not be judged. Thanks for sharing!

Deborah Cruz 2015/03/18 - 12:02 pm

Thank you for weighing in. I think we are all just trying to do our best and what more can we hope for. The judging part is the worst part of being a parent because every single decision you make ( big or small) is scrutinized.

Blanca D 2015/03/18 - 11:57 am

No, I don’t think so.
We as parents do the best for our children.
We might not take our kids to private school, but we decided to moved to a place that is more expensive compared to other areas, but it has the best school district. I think like you said, we sometimes have to make sacrifices, but I’d never sacrifice my girls education.
If you can afford private education, why not? unless of course, that private school isn’t good, because truth is, not all private schools are good, just like not all public schools are bad.

Deborah Cruz 2015/03/18 - 12:06 pm

You know, I totally get that some public schools are better than others. Some public schools may even be better than some private schools.
It just happens that where we live, the private school has a better score than any of the public schools in the area. We could have moved to a different part of town, which has phenomenal public schools but the private school we have our daughters in is fantastic and I get the bonus ( which I wanted) of the faith aspect of it. It’s what works for us.
THe bottom line is that we all want what’s best for our children and that might mean something different to every parent and child:)
Thanks for weighing in.

Nancy Johnson Horn 2015/03/18 - 12:04 pm

I look at it this way. You do what is best for your child. My kids are doing very well in public school and we LOVE our local school. However, two years ago, it wasn’t what was best for my then 5 year old, so we put her in private for the year. We put her back in the year after and she started doing well again. My little guy is in a private special ed preschool right now. He will be going into a public special ed class next year for Kindergarten. If he does not thrive, we will pull him out. We are doing what is right for our children.

Ashley Mullen 2015/03/18 - 2:47 pm

While I have no opinion on private school, I am working on curriculum to homeschool my daughter next year. The public school she is in lacks in my opinion, and is no where near challenging her. Plus the education system in our province is rated quite low in comparison to others.
I think that every parent has the right to choose what they think is best for their child, including education. So I’m homeschooling… and scared shit-less! LOL.

Deborah Cruz 2015/03/18 - 3:32 pm

You go girl! I think homeschooling is brave and wonderful. Myself, I considered it briefly. I was getting my masters in education when we had our first child and taught k-2nd grade but I just feel like it would be different with my own girls, especially since they have already been to a school they love. I hope your experience is magical. I know many homeschooling mamas who love it and their children thrive under the freedom to learn in different ways.

The Common Mom 2015/03/19 - 9:51 pm

I think that as a parent, you make the best decisions you can at the time with the information available. Your experience in public school resonates with me as mom to a gifted girl. We were in a public school system where her needs were being met. In our new public school district – not so much. All the cards are on the table: new district, Catholic school, private school – even homeschool but don’t tell my husband.

That said, as a society we need to increase the quality of public school systems. Wish I had the answer on how to do that but, alas, I don’t.

Cynedra 2015/03/26 - 7:49 am

I’m sorry I am commenting on this so late. My children go to public school, but I wish I could afford private. The public school they go to is challenging to older son, but not younger. I imagine that Salon was responding to certain websites that say if you are sending your children to public school that you should be charged with parental neglect. Several years ago, I used to read a blog where the mother had children in several different types of school – one in boarding, a few in a different private, some in public, and at least one at homeschool. Her theory was that she would do whatever was best for that child for that year. I try to keep that in mind for my children. Right now, given our finances and a few other things including my volunteering at the school, the public elementary school is the best fit. Middle school may be entirely different. As long as you stay involved (in some fashion) in what your children are doing, they will be fine.

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