Allison Benedikt has written a “manifesto” arguing that it is each citizen’s obligation to get behind the public school system. It’s not enough to give lip-service or even financial support. Benedikt is calling for “real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment.” Indeed, if you send your kids to private school, you’re a “bad person” for leaving the public school system to languish, contributing to its demise and the erosion of society’s future. She writes,
There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate. But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons. Or, rather, the compelling ones (behavioral or learning issues, wanting a not-subpar school for your child) are exactly why we should all opt-in, not out.
Benedikt’s argument hinges on the idea that, despite the weaknesses of the public school system, children will turn out alright. Sure, it’s not as good, but you can end up working at Slate someday in spite of your poor education.
I was struck most by the anecdotal/pragmatic logic of this piece. According to this line of argumentation, why have public education at all? We turned out some pretty sharp folks before state-run education was a human right. Abraham Lincoln anyone?
What do you think? Read the article and comment below.