In a provocative article entitled “If You Send Your Kids to Private School, You Are a Bad Person: A Manifesto” on Slate, an online daily magazine, Allison Benedikt argues that people need to invest themselves in public schools. She says everyone, especially affluent parents, have a duty to work to improve public education and that improvement will only come from the emotional investment of sending one’s child to public school. I attended both private and public schools, which I feel gives me enough of a license to label Allison Benedikt’s position as completely unsupported by facts.
Katrina Feldkamp, FCRH ’14, researched the impact of standardized testing on the quality of education.
She stresses that parents who provide time and attention to their children’s education are more likely to send them to private school. If those parents were as invested in their local schools, it could enhance public education for all students.
Benedikt is wrong in saying that it is selfish for parents to send their kids to private school; it is in the best interest of society to continue this tradition. Private schools allow for students to think creatively, a factor that is missing in many public institutions. Taking this away puts the next generations of young adults at a disadvantage, consequently hurting society. Even if some children attend a private school, their parents still pay taxes, which supports public schools because these families tend to have higher incomes. Until the school system reaches a certain, basically unattainable level, exclusively relying on public schools would harm society.
A greater education for some is more important than an equal opportunity for all.
The difference between a private school education and a public school education continues to be a topic for debate. (Neil Tennant/The Ram)
Currently, many universities look at applicants from private schools differently, whether it is fair or not. “The public schools in my area are well known to be of poor quality… I knew that if I wanted to go to college, or a good one, I couldn’t go to the public school in my town” Feldkamp, a private school graduate, said.
I am confident that I would not be attending Fordham had I not received a private education and diploma. Even the brightest student in a poor school district will be restrained by the limits of the system.
I say, continue to be selfish and send children to private schools. Are my parents, as Benedikt says, “bad people”? Absolutely not. In fact, quite the contrary. It was in my best interest to attend private school. I do not see myself or other students as harming society. Parents are always looking for the best options for their children, and parents who send kids to private schools highly value education, which, after all, is a fundamental building block of society.
Even if Benedikt’s proposal did improve the system, the improvement would be slow and costly. Private school is not for everyone, and that is fine, but public school is also not for everyone. For some students, private school is a better way to expose them to what will one day make them successful.
I am not saying that a student who goes to public school will not thrive, but for many, private education helps them reach a level of success otherwise unattainable.
Sending all teenagers to public high school would not solve the problems Benedikt raises. Limiting gifted children would theoretically cause a lack of intellect in our country at a time when we are trying to heighten the level of education. A societal issue should not be a parent’s burden.
In reality, you are not a bad person for sending a child to private school. You are just being a good parent.
Matthew Michaels, FCRH ’17, is from Hightstown, N.J.