Child’s educational needs vs. your ideals and anxieties

–Couldn’t figure out a pithy short title for this one.

As parents know there is nothing like having a child to make you review your own childhood.  From the “I had to make my bed every morning so should you.”   To, “I was sexually exploited by family members and I will never let that happen to my child.”

It’s not really accurate for us to compare our childhoods to our children’s when it comes to the new world order of the economy, education, social mores, etc.  I am still jarred by seeing a tattoo covered lady, but no one else is.  I’m gladdened that it’s not okay for kids on the playground to say some of the racist things I use to hear when I was a kid.  I can’t believe how much harder schools are now then when I was a kid.

is this what I want for my kids?

is this what I want for my kids?

I recently had an ah, hah ( is that how it is spelled?) moment when I was hearing about a charity that supported underprivileged kids gain entry into private high schools.  My knee jerk reaction was “why do they have to go to private schools?  Why can’t public school be better? Is that the only way for poor kids to do well is to go hang with the snooty snoots?”  They talked about having to get their academics up in middle school, laudable.  But, also take them to the beach, because many had never been.  To take them to museums.  To coach them that when they are in these high schools they will have friends who get Italian sports cars for their 16th bday and know that they will not.  The reasoning is something like this, to succeed in the world, really do well, you have to be comfortable in the milieu of the rich and educated.  The high schools, the college, the social arenas.  My leftist, child of boho upbringing, middle class, went to city college than to a public university self was stunned.  I think I thought because I was a sophisticated, educated white lady that I was in the the In crowd.

But, really.  I’m not, never have been.  I’ve been invited in for glimpses, but that’s it. Ditto my husband.  He is a public school educated, middle class outlook kind of dude.  So, that is the trajectory we set for our own children.  But, is that a good idea?  When the world is different than when we graduated from high school.  My tuition was $650 a quarter.  While my kids are not strangers to the beach they aren’t kicking it at country clubs either.

Barack Obama was raised in a middle class, single mom with help from his grandparents apartment.  But, they got him into the best prep school in Hawaii.  It has given me pause.

I’m such a proponent of the egalitarian society and education, but maybe I’m wrong.  Is this one of those things were I should do something different for my kid than was done for me?  Besides, trying to figure out how we could pay for a private high school, but I’m struggling with this philosophically as well.  I know it’s harder in LA where are public schools are not great and private schools are pricey.  It would be different in other areas I’m sure.

But, what educational path are you chartering for your kids?


6 thoughts on “Child’s educational needs vs. your ideals and anxieties

  1. Great read today and one that gave me pause. I went to private schools my whole educational life(except for college). A Catholic upbringing was important to my folks. I ended up being a teacher and I have taught in the public school system. I currently teach in an independent school(no-religion affiliation). My two girls attend the local Catholic school. So, I have a little experience in all arenas. I cannot say that one is better than the other. It depends upon what your family values may be but more importantly, a school must be the right “fit” for a child(if that makes any sense). A school must also be a good fit for your family, overall. There are many outstanding public schools out there. Teachers really make the difference here. Wow, I could seriously go on about this topic as I find myself at a crossroads lately. I feel the pull to go back to teaching in public schools. Anyhow, love your site, been reading for years!

    • ah Thanks Maggie… yeah, there is what I think is right, what I did, what my comfort zone is, but maybe just because I had to work at 16 and not go to “good” high school I shouldn’t make my kids do that. Politically is one thing and one of the reasons we chose to be in a public school now after Mark’s older children went to private was Mark saying ‘if I’m going to fundraise I want to fundraise for kids who need it, not rich kids.” Because they all hit you up. But, most LA high schools seem wanting.. I have a few years to figure this out. I think what struck me about the charity I was speaking of was there saying that it wasn’t just the academics that was crucial but the culture. So, do we teach our kids to golf when they might rather play the Peruvian nose flute?

  2. agh, I’m so stressed with my son entering middle school next year. I question my choices for him regarding school all the time. I don’t know the answer either.

  3. geez. Timely. We are moving to Minneapolis. My 2nd grader is currently in a public charter that is phenomenal and that she thrives in, We will be living in the city limits there and we’re sending her to public school mostly because of cost, but also because private options are typically religious and we are not. The other thing is that I want my kid to see and exist in diversity – and I don’t mean it from a purely racial perspective. I like the mix. I don’t think that having a successful life is necessarily tied to aspiring to the 1%. At least I certainly hope with all my heart that we have not become that as a society. All of this to say I am not without my pangs and concerns, but I keep coming back to *my kid* – I know her. She’s studious and curious and will be a good student no matter where we put her, and when I look at schools I try to remember that statistics are averages and that we are dealing with individuals. I hope I am not being hopelessly naive! The fear of screwing it all up is intense, isn’t it?

    • Mary, thank you for that and good luck.

      Yes, I like that, we don’t have to strive to the 1% good line. I too like diversity, yes think of our own kid not averages. But, not easy answer.

      • last bit (maybe) – how do we teach empathy & understanding as well as avoid the “entitlement” attitude that seems so prevalent if we don’t support public education and embrace the differences? I worry about the adults that the kids will grow into. We live in a middle class area and I see it in many of the kids even my daughters age. OK – that’s it. Love your show by the way. And so does my kid!

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