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Is it wrong to send kids to private school?

One writer argues that every parent should invest in the public school system.

By Kristin Wong Aug 29, 2013 3:47PM

Wealthy parents should forgo a private education for their children and instead invest in the public school system. That’s the argument writer Allison Benedikt makes this morning in an article for Slate headlined, "If you send your kid to private school, you are a bad person." Her reasoning is compelling.

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If all parents would send their children to public school, the schools would get better, Benedikt wrote. After all, it’s usually the parents who rise up to make changes to the system, and if more parents supported public education, well, it would get more support. Things would be more likely to change.

“Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract,” the writer argues. “Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.”

In short, if parents have an investment in the public school system, they’re probably going to make its improvement a priority.

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“There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school,” Benedikt wrote. She lists family tradition, religion and prestige as some of the less compelling reasons, but there are admirable reasons, too: a better education, solutions for learning issues, the desire for them to get a decent job.

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She argues that the latter reasons are exactly why everyone should send their kids to public schools: to improve the system for everyone.

I believe in public education, but my district school really isn’t good! you might say. I understand. You want the best for your child, but your child doesn't need it."

Benedikt writes that if you can afford private school, chances are your child will come from an environment that allows them to overcome “a perfectly crappy public school.”

“She will have support at home (that’s you!) and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior education — the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy.”

What do you think of the argument? Are parents who send their children to private schools doing a disservice to the public school system?

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Photo: Carl Keyes/Alamy

Apr 29, 2014 5:44AM
What this author seems to not address is that there are ridiculous changes happening in public school (the decrease of teacher power and increase of student power within the classroom) that are occurring because of parents pressing for them.  When I decide to not send my child to public school, it will be because the public schools don't have a backbone and tell selfish child-centered parents that their child's feelings aren't the center of the universe.  And, when I do send my child to a public school, it will be because he or she will be able to think critically and articulate clearly what they believe about life and education.
Dec 15, 2013 1:22AM
Being a college student, I do not have to think about where I am going to send my children to school. However, I have attended both public and private. I think a major downside of private schools is the lack of diversity, but an advantage is the attention they receive from teachers due to the small class sizes.  In order for public schools to be as successful in purely educating students, they need to adopt the idea of student-teacher relationships.  Making the school seem more like a community could improve the learning of the students.  They would receieve more attention and would be more likely to succeed. 
Sep 7, 2013 3:49PM
I sent my children to both and they ended high school in private school.  The education was better, teachers and parents were more involved, there was less drugs and alcohol use because children were better supervised.  Students were normal teens but college focused.  Benedikt makes a point but I am not going to sacrifice my kids  in the hopes that the school will get better.  In public schools I volunteered, fought to have my 8th grader take algebra (refused), requested a teacher change when I realized the biology teacher was incompetent (also refused), and voiced concerns about the amount of theft at the school ("nothing we can do").  She has it backwards.  Public schools need to improve so that middle class tax paying citizens don't have to also make the decision to send their kids to private school - which is a huge financial sacrifice for most.  The fact that she calls us bad parents completely discredits herself and simplifies a very complex issue.
Sep 6, 2013 7:37AM
I went to both, public and private. The essential difference were the students. And it makes all the difference. The public school was a joke.
Sep 6, 2013 5:26AM
Actually, generally speaking, private and charter schools (despite what people think) have a lower quality of education.  Why is this?  The teachers are less qualified, and not as good at what they do.
This is usually because they couldn't qualify for a job in the public sector or they couldn't maintain the standards required to work in the public schools.  
I'm not saying all of them are like this, but a good portion of private/charter teachers are there because of one of those two situations.  
Sep 6, 2013 3:47AM
Everyone does pay for public schools. It's done at the end of a gun barrel and it's called property tax. Whether you rent or own you're being forced to pay for schools that are more like prisons and m****duce idiots. 
Sep 6, 2013 2:34AM
Benedikt is an idiot. I would say more but the previous post say enough. What a joke.


If I had to, I'd send my child to public school. I'd make sure I volunteered, knew who my child's friends were, knew what they were learning and who the bullies and troublemakers were. I would also do everything in my power to help my child fit in. Having said that, yes, I believe that a child can get a good education in a public school.  I also believe that as a parent, if I can give my child an advantage in her education, I am going to.

Every parent should choose what is in the best interest of their child.  (And their finances) and if something about the school troubles them, it needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers need to work together.   

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