September 28, 2008

Private School Woes

It is a hair shy of 90 degrees outside, unless you are working inside your garage as I am. In that case you can add another 12 degrees or so. In any case I have chosen to take a short break from decluttering so that I can come and share a thought or two.

Not unlike so many others my children are enrolled in private school. Each year I look at my bank accounts and I wonder how long I can keep this up for. Each year I say that I am going to spend more time exploring options for a less expensive option and each year I somehow manage to keep them in the school.

If it sounds like a bundle of contradictory gobbledy-gook that is because it is. If you ask me to create a list of what I consider to be the most important elements of raising my children it is going to be simple and look something like this:

1) Health
2) Education
3) Love
4) Character

It should be noted that this is intentionally a simple list that could easily be expanded and elaborated upon. But for the purpose of this post it will suffice as currently constructed.

I am a product of public schools. I believe that a public school education is important and that when done right is exceptionally valuable. But the obvious problem for me is that my local public school isn't up to snuff. It just isn't good enough.

And there really aren't a lot of good alternatives. It is not real easy to get your child into anything other than their home school, and even if you can the process is a pain. The private schools require a non-refundable deposit to secure a space. That deposit is required months in advance of when you find out if your child will be admitted to a public school that is not their local school.

In case it is not obvious the reason I titled this private school woes is purely financial in nature. The tuition is a big nut to crack. It is painful and requires making numerous concessions. The fact that education is so important makes it less painful, but it still doesn't serve as a cure all.

Remove that tuition and we have money for many other things that are also important. Remove that tuition and I can probably retire between five and ten years earlier than the current projection of 186 years of age.

So when I listen to our candidates talk about their plans for the future I listen carefully. Not only am I gravely concerned about the economy, healthcare and foreign policy, but I wonder where education fits into the mix. Because I don't hear enough about it.

I don't hear the politicians screaming that our public schools do not have enough resources or do not use their resources well enough to make sure that our kids are the best educated in the world.

I stopped believing that race was a real factor in holding people back a solid 20 years ago. But socioeconomic status, that I believe is a problem. If you are poor you are screwed out of many things. If you are poor you have a harder time getting a good education.

And that education is the tool that you will use to elevate yourself and climb out of the muck.

Better public schools serve the greater good. A better educated populace is good for everyone. Not to mention that if parents like myself weren't forced to spend a significant amount of money on education we could spread some of that dough into other places, helping the economy in the process.

Don't get me wrong, I love the school my children attend. They are receiving an excellent education and I am thrilled. But every now and then I like to dream that there is a chance that I am going to be able to retire when I am still of sound mind and body.

Crossposted here.


Anonymous said...

Once again, I'll openly challenge you to try homeschooling your children. Your kids will get a fine personalized education offered with love and compassion. You won't be limited by outside conventions and you'll have the blessings of being with the people who are dearest and nearest to your heart for the bulk of your days. Life couldn't get better! And best of all, you won't have to fork over outrageous "private school tuition." $1000/month can buy lots of music lessons, sports equipment, travel, memberships to museums, and subscriptions to media. Think about it!

Jack said...

Hi Helene,

I am not a big fan of homeschooling. I understand why people like it and can see a number of advantages, but there are a number of issues with it as well.

I know a bunch of people who did it. The strange thing is that when I look at where they ended up going to college and how they are today the numbers are split.

Meaning that about half of them did exceptionally well and are what we call successful and the others are kind of struggling.

Again, it is a personal decision that parents have the right to make and that is how it should stay.

But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't concerned with the quality of the education.

Some people are excellent teachers and others, aren't.

All that aside, the question is can a family afford to live on just one salary.

Anonymous said...

re:"I stopped believing that race was a real factor in holding people back a solid 20 years ago."

I raised 2 boys, they are 6 months apart.
The darker skinned one, who is 1/2 African American, encountered racism, but, overcame it.
He still overcomes it, as he studies at NYU.
The other experienced difficulty in school as a child who is more kinetically inclined. He's an artist and musician. He did not do well with the school system. Unlike his brother, he wasn't one to learn by sitting still. He shut down during school hours or acted out.

We didn't have money for tutors or private school, but, both boys went to Magnet schools.

Racism still exists - as a challenge.
Poverty is an even greater challenge.
When one person has both challenges, it can be overwhelming.

Be careful not to dismiss these factors.