High on the snark and humor index, low on the logic and evidence, Allison Benedikt’s “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person” made the rounds on my Facebook newsfeed last week. One person sort of apologized for the provocative title, but the whole piece is provocative, really. The essence is that public schools are good for the common good and thus we should all be connected to public schools so closely that we work to make them better. That’s a valid argument, one my Aunt Becky has made for as long as I can remember, but in Benedikt’s hands, sentences like this: “chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school,” make me wonder what the target and purpose really were.
Friends who posted it seemed to be taking it seriously. In the event it was in any way intended seriously, let me say the following.
I believe in public education. I am against voucher schools. I vote for people who want to fund education and don’t want tax dollars going to private schools.
At the moment, my son goes to a public school, and I volunteer there.
But if, on balance, I decide there’s a better match for him elsewhere, he’s outta there. We won’t make that decision impulsively or quickly or blithely, but when we stopped homeschooling him, and sent him to public school, we told him (and ourselves) that what mattered was whether he was learning and whether he was happy….That’s still what matters, as far as I’m concerned.
I don’t care if that makes me a bad person. Bad citizen. Don’t care. It makes me a good mother, and I care much, much more about that. Besides, if he’s happy, and reaching anywhere close to his full potential, the world will be better off.
Here are some other ways I’m a bad person.
1. I spend more per week on my food budget than I would if I were on food stamps. I guess if I really cared about the state of nutrition for our working and nonworking poor, I would eat a lot more beans and advocate more on behalf of the poor. I could share recipes with Allison Benedikt, who, I’m sure, cares as much about this government function as she cares about public schools.
2. If I get arrested and have to go to trial, I will corral all my finances for the best lawyer I can afford. I suppose if I weren’t such a bad person, I would rely on the public defender, who’s likely overstretched. Sitting in jail, I’d have a lot of time to advocate for better justice for people who can’t afford lawyers. Maybe my cellie would be Allison (no last names needed, if we’re on the same cell block), and we could co-author articles.
3. My salary as a UW System professor isn’t stellar, but I have pretty good benefits, so I get pretty good health care. If I weren’t such a bad person, I would limit myself to what someone without insurance could access with help from state or federal programs, but there you have it.
I also buy books and movies that are not available through my public library system, and am pickier about what seafood I eat than the FDA would indicate is necessary.
Just a bad person, through and through.
Couldn’t we all just encourage each other to contribute to our communities in public and private ways as best we can to make everything better for everyone?
If Allison Benedikt’s purpose was to convince me to keep my son in public school from here on out, it didn’t work. If her purpose was to make me feel bad for homeschooling him for his kindergarten year, it didn’t work. Make me feel bad for keeping homeschooling open as an option in the future? Didn’t work.
If her purpose was to give a snarky huzzah to parents who keep their kids in public schools partly out of a sense of “the greater good,” it may have worked.
But since the only evidence she presented was a well-written bit of autobiography, I suspect the purpose was to be a writer and express herself and get some attention, and I would say that worked.
Follow up a provocative title with a provocative column and provoke? It worked on me, anyhow.