Saturday, April 4, 2009

Economies of School

This article pleases me. I particularly love this quote from a music professor mother:

“We bought our apartment in 2004,” she said, “and like most new parents we never even thought about the public school zoning issues. We just assumed our son would go to private school.”

Excuse me? Most new parents would never even think about public school!? How outrageously far up your ass can you possibly stick your head? According to the 2000 U.S. census, EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT OF STUDENTS go to public schools.

Now, I will admit that there can occasionally be advantages to a private school. I never learned what wine to pair with my meals in public school (luckily, I have an innate knowledge of wine pairing just from being gay). I didn't have very many teachers with doctoral degrees. My fencing team (Oh, yes. We had a fencing team. I was on it.) had to practice at the elementary school with no real facilities and water fountains at knee height. We could have used a school lounge with luxurious deep red armchairs and a roaring fire to sit in front of while the butler brought us tea.


Can you tell that I don't actually know what a private school is like? I picture it like England about 75 years ago. But without the depression. And without the damp.


But back to the public school thing: I love that these parents are being forced into it. It's much, much harder to improve the public education system when those adults with the most influence in government/school policy (i.e. with the most money) opt out of the system and then just shake their heads at how inept it is. Put the money that goes into one year of private school tuition for one student into a public school. It'll buy a shitload of textbooks for a shitload of kids. Maybe you could even pay a teacher for them!

Really, I can't figure out why people don't have the urge simply to spend their money efficiently. Use your money to do the most good for the most people. Simple, straightforward, easy to understand.

5 comments:

Alexandra said...

Liar - you don't even like wine very much.

Otherwise, though, yes: I have similar feelings regarding the people in Canada who are advocating for two-tier healthcare (ie: in addition to the public system, a private system where you can just pay for the services you need right away rather than waiting in line like the rest of us poor schlubs.)

Claudia said...

I read that same article and it made me snicker at how these wealthy parents clearly couldn't stand the thought of their precious better-than-poor-kids children being lumped in with everyone else.

And ya know, if parents with resources were forced to send their children to public schools, you can bet they'd look pretty different.

RonF said...

It's much, much harder to improve the public education system when those adults with the most influence in government/school policy (i.e. with the most money) opt out of the system and then just shake their heads at how inept it is.

Very true.

Really, I can't figure out why people don't have the urge simply to spend their money efficiently.

OTOH, I'm not sure how the concept of efficiency fits here. If I'm a parent and have the money, what's more efficient - putting my money into a system that tries to help everyone, or putting it into a system that focuses much more directly on my child? Their concern is that their child will get an education that is superior to other kids' and thus gives their kid a competitive advantage. How does helping other kids increase the efficiency of the process?

Leila said...

public schools vary too, though. claire's education at PHS was very very similar to the education i got at marlborough. from what i know from your & ian's experience, your high school was similar to mine as well. however, my best friend from elementary school went on to one of LA's best public schools and she got nowhere close to the kind of classes that claire and i got. several of my friends from high school transferred in from a couple of the other excellent public schools in LA and the comparisons they drew between their school experiences were surprising. i'm talking academics only.

for example, the math class that average 7th graders at my school took wasn't offered in any of the public schools to students under 9th grade. the class my friends and i took wasn't offered until 10th grade. AP Calc BC wasn't offered. this mattered to me and my friends. i don't know what everyone was at marlborough for, but for me and my friends, our experience there was about academic challenge and excitement. i have never again felt as intellectually alive as i did in high school, and 90% of my college professors could not compare to my high school teachers . . . regardless of what those teachers' level of education was.

i refuse to be ashamed of myself or my parents for the middle/high school education i got. i am absolutely thankful for it and it's the one experience in my life i wouldn't trade. is private school the only way to go? absolutely not, and as a public school teacher i'm 100% committed to making my students education as exciting and rigorous as my own was.

to that end, i am petitioning to teach integrated algebra to half the 7th graders and geometry to half the 8th graders in order to make my students competitive with their prep school peers. the other half of the class will take integrated algebra in the 8th grade and still be a year ahead.

simply, i feel like private school-- or the education it's possible to get at the really good ones-- should be a choice. and yes, i think it should be a choice that everyone has, which is why as a teacher i encourage my students like i do. also, i think it's incredibly important to note that all public schools are created equal. yours had a fencing team. the one i teach in has no sports, no music, no dance, no theater, no art, no foreign language, no recess and 25 minutes of lunch. and we are one of NYC's top middle schools, rated in the top 10 last year.

olddockeller said...

Ah, celloshots, you callow youth. Where else but private school would you learn to avoid private school kids as much as possible? An invaluable life lesson, well-learned by crazyben and kjones.