Public schools vs. Private schools (or parental responsibility)

In response to the following comment:

“I’m going to play “devil’s advocate” here and would like you, as an educator and parent, to respond.

I work in the public schools. I do not have children. I listen to my colleagues complain about how many public-school parents shirk their responsibilities in raising their kids and valuing education, but from my perspective, so many public-school parents do not have good role models. I’m not talking about the parents’ parents, I’m talking about OTHER parents at the schools.

From what I see, many of the so-called “good-role-model” parents (that is, the ones who read the bulletins, attend parent-teacher conferences and read to their kids) are sending their little darlings to private and parochial schools because, apparently, the public schools just aren’t up to their standards. So, rather than working to make their neighborhood schools better by getting involved, attending school board meetings, running for school board, writing their legislators to demand mandates be funded, etc, they pay the extra jack and drive the extra mile to get their kids out of the public schools, often THE VERY SAME public schools they work for.

Last week, two of my colleagues were wah-ing because their children’s Spring Break didn’t match up to the Spring Break scheduled for our school corporation’s. I took out my tiny violin and shook my head. What are these people thinking and what does it tell the children they are raising? That public schools should not be valued? These kids are going to grow up to be legislators and voters; how will they act towards public schools for which their parents demonstrated such low regard?

People who work for public schools but send their kids elsewhere make me wonder: “why in the name of social justice would you work for an organization you yourself don’t believe in enough to send your own offspring?”

My mother told me that when her father worked for Studebaker you could drive past the Studebaker employee parking area and see a lot of Fords, Packards and Chevys but very few Studebakers. Apparently those workers didn’t believe in their own products; Studebaker ceased production in South Bend in 1963.

We ask public-school parents to value public school education. Do all of us?”

Here is my response: 

Firstly, my children do not attend private school.  They attend a different public school than where I teach because my wife and I chose to live in-between the districts where we taught, so instead of making one of us drive 80 minutes one way, we split the difference.  My kids don’t have the same Spring Break I do either.

I’ve considered sending our kids to private schools because the public schools I’ve come to know are not the public schools I knew as a student in them.  But I don’t know if the fault is with the school, the community, or the student population.  Probably a little of all three if we’re being honest. 

But when I consider private, I realize that the roles my wife and I play in our children’s lives in public or private school will ultimately help determine their success.  Parents who send their kids to private schools are most likely sending them to private schools because they are concerned about their children’s education, so private schools have a tendency to be preaching to the choir when it comes to taking a child’s education seriously.  But regardless of whether you are a parent who has no choice but to send your children to public schools or if you are a parent who consciously chooses to send your children to public schools, you have a responsibility. 

If we’re talking about role models, or the lack thereof, we are not condemned to failure because we haven’t seen success, for there are those who see nothing but success their entire lives who choose to destroy themselves.  These are adults we’re talking about here.  It’s a bit like Cassius telling Brutus, the fault is not in the stars but in ourselves.  Cassius recognizes it’s our fault that we are underlings.  Our fault.  So what does Cassius plan to do?  Kill Caesar.

If you have a child, you have a responsibility to do right by the child.  Sometimes that’s private school, sometimes that’s public school, sometimes it’s the best you can do.  Not every parent has to be the stellar volunteer, and not every parent can attend everything there is to attend.  But as indicated in my entry here, a principal should not have to tell parents it’s important their children attend school. 

If a public school teacher sends his child to a private school, that’s fine; he’s still paying for the public system.  I’m not about to judge the public teacher’s preference, for her private school choice may be religious based, but even if it isn’t, she has the right to do the best she can for her child.

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6 Responses to “Public schools vs. Private schools (or parental responsibility)”

  1. Theresa Says:

    Great response

  2. rmcartwright Says:

    Great response Mike!

  3. Terri Says:

    And if a parent cannot be involved with their child’s education at the schools, it is their responsibility to be involved at home. Let’s not forget that a child’s first teacher is their parent!

  4. feemaedchen Says:

    Good for you for sending your kids to public school but the original question seems to remain unanswered and that is does society value public school education? Are federal mandates fully funded? Who are the champions for public schools and who are the champions for the children?

    Of course, in a perfect world all parents would take full responsibility for their children and get them to school without administrative help or remind them that violent videos are no-no’s. But the reality is that some people just do not have it together (maybe their spouse is in Iraq and they’re doing what they can to make it through the day, maybe the kids are being raised by Granny because Mommy’s mentally disabled). When the parents fail (are they, then, the “underlings”?), do we judge or do we help? Because in the end, if we fail the children, we fail us all.

  5. macoffeegrounds Says:

    It wasn’t clear that that was the original question. What do you really want answered?
    Are federal mandates fully funded? Of course they aren’t.
    Do a lot of parents do the best they can? Of course they do.
    Are there issues going on in the lives of individual people that no one really knows about? Of course there are.
    I believe our circumstances do not automatically determine our outcomes. I believe we frequently choose victimhood.
    I believe we constantly live our lives choosing between what is right and what is easy.

  6. working parents Says:

    Amazing site! I found your site very interesting.Thanks!.Yes,Of course, in a perfect world all parents would take full responsibility for their children

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