Slate editor Alison Benedikt thinks I’m a bad person. No, we’ve never actually met. But in her manifesto, "If You Send Your Kids to Private School, You Are a Bad Person" Benedikt rips those of us sending our children to private school, a new one.
She not only refers to parents like me who send their kids to private school as bad people, but also as “morally corrupt.”
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Benedikt's belief is that if every single person put every single child into public school, our school system would have to improve. She believes parents who opt out of public school in favor of private school are selfish, as they would otherwise be the type of people who could personally and financially help fix the public school system (which by her own admission wouldn’t be fixable for generations to come even if every single “selfish private school parent” sent her kids to public school).
A product of the public school system, Benedikt herself cops to a “mediocre” education. She confesses to being “just fine” having “survived” her education. But she assumes that those of us who want more than an education that is "just fine" for our children are selfish.
I’ve chosen to take my children’s education into my own hands.
Truth be told, I would love nothing more than to avoid spending what will be (gasp!) $50,000 a year to educate my two children in a more than “just fine” fashion. Here in Los Angeles, our public school system isn’t just flailing, it’s on life support. My own local public school is rated one of the best in the city; yet sports, music, dance or drama are absent as part of the regular curriculum. Additionally, the school has no janitorial services. But according to Ms. Benedikt, I’m selfish for wanting more than that for my two children.
In a perfect world, every American would have an opportunity to a quality public education. But this isn’t a perfect world, and our school system is hardly sufficient. And I would, without question, give whatever I’m paying in private school tuition to the public school system if I had any confidence that our government, voters and teacher's unions had as much concern for my children’s education as I do. But I have no proof of that, so I’ve chosen to take my children’s education into my own hands.
The decision to send one’s child to private school doesn’t come easily, despite what Alison Benedikt would have you think. My husband and I debated the pros and cons at length. We were realistic about what sacrifices we’d make in order to comfortably take on the tuition. We looked at public schools, charters, magnets and private schools, and we ultimately came to the hardest decision, not the easiest. There is nothing easy about sending one’s child to private school, and there is nothing selfish about the decision to give your kids more than an education that is "just fine."
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I don’t know a person sending their kids to private school who made that choice for any other reason than a deep passion for their kid’s education. It’s interesting to me that Benedikt finds that selfish. Personally, I think it’s selfish to send your kids to a broken public school if you can afford otherwise. But, then again, what do I know? I’m just a morally corrupt parent of a child going to private school.