Are you a bad parent for sending your kids to public school?

When linking to this post ( the Huffington Post Twitter asked if sending your kid to a private school made you a bad parent.  Aggravating.

I suggested they ask   "does wanting the best possible education for your child make you a bad person?" Now of course I have some bias. I teach in a private school and sent my son to one for all but one year of his education.

Now I am not completely anti-public school.  After all my wife, son and daughter in law work in public schools. I’m pro-choice on education though. I believe that parents have an obligation to get the best possible education for their children. I think they owe that to their children AND to society as a whole.  If that means a public school – great. If that means public school – why not?

I attended two public schools myself. One ok and one incredibly good. The private schools I attended were more consistently good though and I would never had made it into or through the public HS I attended if not for the private school I attended for middle school.

A democratic society needs a well educated population. We have public schools because many people are unable or unwilling to spend money for their children’s education. They open doors for many children who would go without an education if not for taxpayer funded schools. We, everyone, should want those schools to be great. We should want them to be good enough for everyone. The facts are though that no one school can possibly meet the needs of every child. Even a super expensive private school can be wrong for many children. That is reality.

Public schools in most areas do not offer enough choice, enough options, enough different environments to meet the needs of every child. If a school charging $30,000 a year can’t be the right school for everyone how can a school spending a third or less per student be right for every child? It’s not possible.

So some parents who can and are willing to afford it will send their children to private schools that better meet their child’s need. Does that make them bad? On the contrary. That makes them good. It makes them good citizens as well. They are saving the taxpayers money and providing better educated adults. How is that bad?

Is it unfair that other children do not get that opportunity? Of course it is. Life is unfair. But the answer is not to restrict the opportunity of the child with motivated parents who has money but to increase the opportunity for students who parents don’t have the money. It is the people who oppose vouchers and other means of expanding choice who are acting contrary to the public good.

If education is important than keeping the best education from students and holding everyone to a lower standard is contrary to good public policy. And yet that is what people seem to be asking for when they attack people who send their kids to private schools.

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