Sending My Kids to Private School Doesn't Make Me a Bad Parent

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Someone recently passed along an article to me on the whole public versus private school debate. Being a vocal advocate of school choice, and choosing to send my own kids to private school, I thought I’d pretty much heard it all. This might be the first time I’ve been called a bad person for making education a priority for my children.

When I first read the piece, I was convinced that it was satire, and obviously in favor of private schools. The author actually praises herself for getting drunk before basketball games in ninth grade, and compares it to reading Walt Whitman in terms of cultural experiences.

She writes:

Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me. In fact it’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.

I’m sorry, what? And is she implying that kids in trailer parks can’t read Walt Whitman, and are only good for the cultural “slumming it” experience?

See? It has to be satire, right?

The entire article doesn’t just imply, but explicitly states that parents that want the best for their own children are bad people, and that truly altruistic parents would send their kids to the crappiest public schools they could find, because it might improve them two or three generations down the line.

I can’t make this stuff up, and the scary part is I think she might actually be serious.

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.

So let me get this straight -- I’m supposed to sacrifice my own children’s education … for the common good? Sorry Honey, you can’t learn Latin or memorize and dramatize sections of Beowulf in fourth grade because there are kids out there whose parents don’t have the same educational goals we have for you.

No. No, no, no, and no.

We all make the best choices we can for our kids. For some parents that’s private school. For others it’s homeschooling. Some people are happy with their public or charter schools. And I guess if you really think it’s important for your kids to get drunk under the bleachers, you’ll pick a school like the one this chick went to. But I’m pretty sure that’s not an either/or proposition. Kids at private schools do boneheaded things too -- so it would be nice if they actually learned something while in class.

But I guess I’m just a terrible person.

Do you think parents that send their kids to private school are bad people?

Image via Jenny Erikson

back to school, education, elementary school, homeschool, homeschooling, middle school, kindergarten


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Brain... BrainyMommy

I read that article and thought it was ridiculous and extremely flawed.

Andrea Byrd Plate

That's crazy.  I went to public school, as did my husband.  We both have parents who researched school districts and chose to live based on where they wanted their kids to go to school.  We did the same thing with both of the houses we've bought-in fact, we moved to the Chicago area before we even had kids, and chose based on school district because we knew, based on our parents' experiences, that it would help with resale.  We're now back in the Houston area and, ironically enough, bought a house that is zoned to the same high school/district my husband attended, because we feel it will give our kids a fighting chance in college and life down the line.  This isn't to say that public schools are a perfect fit for everyone, but in our case it worked out fine.  You do what you think is best for your family.


Katha... Katharine205

Good grief.  I proudly send my daughter to a private school because I want her to get a better education than she would get at the low performing public school district we're in.  I'll continue to send her to private school as long as I can afford it.

Betty Zam

I agree with you Jenny! I am completely and totally team make the best decision for your own family. In my case, we will have 2 kids with one in private and one in public school. My stepson has been in public school since before my hubby and I were together so he wants to stay there. He's in 6th grade and it took him a very long time to make friends, as he's very shy. So as a family we decided that its best for him to stay there. I am sometimes unhappy with the way teachers do things and the way they things seem to take away their ability to deal with things. \I want my daughter to be challenged and given the ability to think creatively, critically.  So I decided that I want her in private school or to be home schooled if we can't find a school my husband and I both like.

I don't like the idea of pushy people saying one or the other is needed. I believe that whatever suits the family and individual child should be taken into account. If that's one or the other, it should be my choice not any one elses.

Senia... Seniahmom

Bad no. Misguided maybe. Take my parents - where they chose to live meant for safety concerns we had to go to private school. Had they bought a home in another area those concerns would have not existed. Knowing people educated in the surrounding schools, the opportunities (both educational & extracurricular) they had that we did not makes me frustrated at times. In college I found I missed out on a lot - inside the classroom & out. Yes the choices made while I was young put me where I am today - had I had those opportunities I may never have met my husband. But I do wonder how my life would be; I'd like an "It's A Wonderful Life" experience to see the difference. I don't think either type of schooling is a bad choice. But I do find that those with a die hard view one way or another often miss the forest for the trees.

Senia... Seniahmom

My children are not yet school age. We keep tabs on both the public & private schools in my area. It's a tough call; both have a lot to offer. If we had to choose right this second we'd opt for the public school as it currently has much more diverse offerings. But there have been positive changes at the private school. We may change our mind when they start or as they are in school depending on how our children do. We may even decide to send one to one way & another the other based in the needs of our children. What matters is what works for them not our preference of type of schooling. Our preference is irrelevant if something isn't working for our kids.

MamaD... MamaDV1012

Wow, that makes no sense and sounds pretty socialistic.  I'm sending my kids to private school.  It was a very difficult choice to make but it's the right one for us and our family.  I love the smaller class size and the first week everyone already learned my daughter's name.  No school is perfect.  No parent is perfect.  All we can do is research, ask questions, discuss things with family members to make the best decisions for our own family situation. 

BeccaLS BeccaLS


So, making your children suffer in a crappy school where they definitely won't reach their full potential is a good thing now? What?!

I went to public school. Worst years of my life. The school sucked and half of the high school students could only read at a grade school level. Obviously not all public schools are like that, but why the hell would anyone take that chance if they had the opportunity to send their kids to a fantastic school? And what if the kid wanted to go to private school?

Private schools can be a truly great thing. I was under the impression that parents were supposed to do whatever was best for their kids, not give them second best just "becuase".

Stasi... Stasiaandkksmom

My kids went to public school for most of their lives so far.

I have made the choice to send them to private school and it was the best decision I've ever made.

They were "getting swept under the rug" so to speak and the public schools they were going to and now they are both honor students and have made so much progress it is unbelievable

nonmember avatar MammaMel

Ok...public does not equal crappy in all cases, let's get that straight first. I went to a public school, and have a very good education. My son will go to public school in a district that I decided to buy my house in based on their performance educationally. That being said, I think private schools are great as well. It's picking the right school and doing what you can, AND it's parents understanding that no matter what school your children go to they could turn out good or bad-THAT is determined by parenting NOT schooling.

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