I don’t send my kids to school, and I’m not a bad person
Some of you woke up this morning to coffee and toast. I woke up to this statement: If you send your kids to private school, you are a bad person.
The Slate article, by Allison Benedikt, makes this point: Rich, white families have the privilege to take their kids out of public schools but should not do it. It causes a harm to public schools.
Here are some things the article does not acknowledge:
- Public schools are an optional service, not a requirement. They are one of many options for growing and learning.
- Public schools are the new secular church. Some religious families feel that if you don’t send your kids to church, you are a bad person. Now that schools have replaced churches, we are bad if we don’t send our kids there. (See Ivan Illich’s writings for more on this.)
- Public schools are not more important that human lives. They are institutions. We, and by we, I mean people with a shred of humanity left in them, value our children above institutions. I would not choose the welfare of a hospital over the welfare of children. I do not choose the welfare of schooling institutions over the welfare of my children either.
- Yes, homeschooling, unschooling, and private schools are often privileges for the rich and white; but many urban, minority, and poor families find ways to have these options as well. Communities have the power to organize and support their neighbors without schools.
- Public schooling is not a panacea that will solve all other problems in our society. Public schooling is a reflection of the many problems in our society. In fact, many of the most important issues of our time are exacerbated by schooling. Schools are very racially segregated, even in diverse cities. Schools are wasteful (financially, environmentally, etc.) Schools separate children from their environment. Schools are based on corporate models, full of arbitrary testing, accountability, and ranking.
- Schooling is not a need. Humanity thrived for many millennia without it. My kids thrive right now without it.
- These are other things that are not the human norm: sitting in a desk all day, surrounded by cement or brick, being told what to do, having no choice in what you do, and often with bullying.
- Parents who do not send their kids to school are called “bad.” Parents who leave their children (as young as 2 or 3 now) with complete strangers all day long, who could molest, rape, or emotionally harm them, are considered “good.” Let’s think this through a little further. FYI, teachers who rape students are given only 30 days in jail.
- Whatever students want to learn (because, really, there are not that many things that MUST be learned), can be learned for free or at least much cheaper and more humanely. We have library cards. We have the internet. We have parents that can teach their kids basic literacy. Tell me schools are doing a better job than that. (See the writings of John Holt for more on this.)
- Parents make different choices! Some are vegetarian, some are not. Some are Christian, some are not. If public schooling sounds like a good option for you, then by all means do it and be involved in the PTA. If not, then explore other options. That is, by definition, what a democracy offers. Choices. Options.
Oh, and by the way, let’s try to be more understanding and accepting of others’ choices. That, IMHO, should also be part of a democracy.