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October 23, 2007


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Hey, public school graduate from K-college, here. And I got your Titus reference, btw.

MD, as you know I'm firmly in the camp of public schools, and in a lot of parent involvement. I'm also the daughter, step-daughter, and sister of three public school teachers, and I've heard a fair number of public school horror stories. I'm guessing (but an educated guess, based on my other relatives who are professors) that private school teachers have those kinds of stories, too.

At the end of the day, I think this is not only about whether we want to live in a society where everyone has equal access to education (although that is critically important). It's also about realizing that our kids may do well in school, or not, and it may not be the end of the world if they don't get into an Ivy League college.

My dh graduated from a certain university in Cambridge that is pretty committed to its own reputation, while I graduated from a state school (and didn't manage to do that until I was 30). He's miserable in his job, and I love mine (well, most days, anyway).

Which of the two of us is more successful?

heather m.

I understand landismom's point but can we really make broad judgments based on individual circumstances?

Surely we all know public school graduates who turned out well, just as we all know private school grads who didn't.

I don't necessarily think one choice is necessarily better than the other. At the end of the day, it's a personal choice and should be based on what is best for your individual child and your family.

However, there are some serious problems in our nation's public school systems. Equal access to education is hardly up there on the list. The problems I see are much more systemic and deserve our attention.

Otherwise, more parents who can afford to will send their kids to private schools and the gaps in education will be divided between the haves and have-nots. If we don't fix the system, can we really blame parents for sending their kids to private schools?


Public school teacher here and I couldn't agree with you more. I know it sounds shallow because I'm advocating more pay for myself, but there are days when I don't feel adequately compensated for the work I put in. Seriously, who else brings work home and grades until 11pm?
But before you decide to place your daughter into public school, check out the curriculum. She's still young, yes, but will she be coming home with an hour of homework, even as a kindergartner? Will the only teaching the educators do be to a test?
Also, is naming public schools PS more common in New York? I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and I teach in the suburbs of Maryland, but I can't recall any Chicago schools designated with a PS. As far as I can recall, they had actual names.


I just read COD's comment and I have to admit to feeling annoyed. Apparently, COD is not a teacher. Thanks to NCLB, school districts are scrambling to hire teachers who are "highly qualified." Now, term is very ambiguous, but for the affluent school districts, "highly qualified" means someone who has a Bachelor degree in the subject field and a Master's in Education. I was lucky enough to graduate with two Bachelor's degrees before getting my Master's, but I can't say that it was easy. The teachers who may have graduated from a less prestigious Education prgoram usually end up in the schools that can't afford the "highly qualified" teachers, i.e. urban/rural districts. But regardless of where the teacher got his/her degree, the really good one will bust his/her ass once he/she begins working.

Random digression: Whenever I think of Titus, I think of the Julie Traymor film. Weird, but compelling.


Enygma may have read what I wrote, but somehow he or she became annoyed while agreeing with me? Becoming a teacher is relatively easy when compared with the effort involved in other 4 year degree programs that lead to some sort of professional certification. (CPA, Engineer, etc) It's simply not that difficult to get into Ball State, Radford, or any number of other traditional teachers colleges and graduate 4 years later with an education degree.

(There is a reason that the traditional "teachers college in most states is also known as one of the best party schools)

That says nothing about the relative quality or skill of the teacher. Certifications and degrees do not make a good teacher. Passion makes a good teacher. However, the requirements for teaching in a public school don't factor passion into the equation.

I'd much rather my kids have a teacher that is passionate about both teaching and the subject, than a teacher with 2 Bachelor's and 1 Master's degree that is just going thorough the motions to collect a paycheck.

Unfortunately, the current system rewards the teachers with the degrees, not the teachers with the passion.


COD--passion will only take you so far as a teacher. the formula one should aim for is passion + the knowledge + the ability to create and carry out engaging and intellectually stimulating lesson plans. as a teacher, i think the passion is the easiest part. just having the knowledge is another pretty easy part. the hardest part, by far, that separates the good teachers from the amazing, however, are those that can follow through on a well structed lesson plan. otherwise, i agree with everyone else you say.

on a random note, i teach at what is considered the "top" high school in the city. there are many brilliant kids, but tons of struggling students as well. nine times out of ten, however, the struggling kids tend to come from dysfunctional and/or unsupportive homes. in the end, i'm still left with the deep rooted belief that success with education starts at HOME. if that priority is not made at home, then it's gonna be a rough road. of course, school facilities, administrations, teachers have a lot to do with it too. but home is where it's at.


People always say - "Throwing money at teachers won't solve the probelm". I'd love to know if anyone has EVER tried that.
- A Teacher


I love a good Shakespeare (or, dare I ask for it? Sophocles?) joke, but I can promise you that it wasn't my public school education that allowed me to appreciate it. Until I wanted to know about it, I didn't. And I think you're 100% correct. It was my parents' desire for me to care about these things that brought me here.

Jessica B.

I think you summed it up best yourself, MD...

"Whether you send your kid to public school or private school, none of it will mean anything if you don't get involved in your kid's education."

So true. So true.

Kate C.

My high school graduated all of your high school's future pro-athletes. And your high school now costs what The University of Chicago cost in 2000. Sheesh. The mind boggles.

Titus Andronicus: I don't think I have ever met someone who has read that one. I haven't. (my mom has a PhD in Early Modern drama, and I don't think she has.)

But it's the one you don't have to read to be able to say "sexual violence and other kinds of torture, including the amputation of hands and the serving of sons as dinner to sexually violated dinner companions."

Which is why noone reads it in school.

Please tell me *you* read it in Sophomore English... please...

Kate C.

My high school was also pretty spendy, for it's area. It was clearly just spendy in ways other than Metrodad's.

And I just read Halim's comment. Double-sheesh. "Market Driven" is not a synonym for "The Right Thing To Do." There are all kinds of reasons why you might want to pay teachers more money.

And 32,000 vs. 45,000 average pay... what riches! That pay difference does not move a family from "barely making it" to "satisfactorily compensated."

All I want is to be able to do for my kids what my parents did for me, and that includes saying "I'll find a way to help you pay for college."

Or "I can cover a medical emergency my inadequate health insurance won't cover."

45,000 doesn't do that.


Hilarious, as usual.

I attended my 20th this past August. Had a blast, I think. (I don't drink much these days, so when it happens it's An Event.)

I am a big proponent of public school too. Unfortunately a teacher in the public elementary school in the district in which we live was convicted of molestation, so I have to decide what to do when my 20-month-old comes of age. Sigh.


choose your battles sir.

do you really think -no matter how great a parent you may be- that your daughter will leave the public school system speaking anything other than skreet?

you can forget about it till compensation is no longer a factor. doctors are great because of compensation, lawyers are great because of compensation, i t specialists are great blah, blah, blah...

sad but true (metallica --the black album)


I love how you start off talking about your reunion, move onto a hilarious yet serious discussion of private v. public schools, and then end with those totally random nonsequitur answers! I'd love to hear what the questions were.


Thank you for the comments in defense of public school teachers.

pnuts mama

i don't even know what the arguments in the comments *are* right now, and i went to NYC public grammar and jhs, nyc catholic hs, SUNY/private BFA, nyc catholic MA/APD/PhD. sorry to be an asshole degree dropper, but some of the comments kind of annoyed me. that whole "move to a better paying district if you don't like your salary" thing? i mean, i can't even begin to address the 30 things that are wrong with that statement right off the top of my head. ugh.

i think adequate compensation for ANY job/career/vocation will lead to justice for all peoples, but is that what we really want? i mean, it serves the interests of the powers-that-be to keep most of the general public (even those who pay for their education) fairly un-educated. i know lots of folks who can quote shakespeare yet still have their head up their asses when it comes to a whole range of things. what i'm saying is that it's nice to argue public vs. private, but we may be ignoring the real issues of education, why we educate, and for what purpose- is it to keep the machine cranking, or actually make progress as a society?

i also think the NYC public school system is unique when it comes to being compared to other areas (maybe other cities are similar?) but just the vast size and sheer amount of children who are educated here makes it difficult to compare to other smaller town or suburban public districts/counties/etc. FWIW, nyc has an excellent and long-running gifted and talented program for those kids who truly excel intellectually and should be surrounded by their peers for stimulation. we also have a reputable and respected special ed program as well. what we continue to need to work on is the majority of children who fall in between those two parameters, increasing their levels of excellence and expectations for them starting at a very early age, and keeping our schools small enough to enable our kids to form close bonds to encourage them to stay on through high school graduation. we have so much work left to do.

and maybe some of our infrastructure is lacking, but i don't know, there are tons of new grammar and middle schools around here, and i know that many of the public HS's have gone through some serious physical overhaul- many of the fields and campuses have even been refurbished through corporate sponsorship. i mean, there may be isolated incidents of no heat for a day or a blown lightbulb, but this is the land of the UFT, and there's no way randi weingarten is letting her people work in unfit conditions. give me a break. NYC has seen a real renaissance in the way it approaches education, and while some of the programs/incentives probably still need time for debate/refinement, i think we're headed in the right direction. i think you're right, MD, more involved parents who could send their kids to private schools need to inspire progress, not just throw up their hands and walk away.

finally, i laugh at the idea that a private education (or a public education in a suburb where the school taxes are astronomical) necessarily ends up being superior- i know more kids who flunked out of SUNY's and cute liberal arts schools with fancy names from crazy expensive school districts on long island than i can even count. so much of that has to do with the way their parents AND their communities approached the hierarchy of importance with regard to education vs. financial status, and how it directly effects your work ethic. we've done no favors to gen Y, throwing money and attention at them their whole lives and then wondering why they can't stand on their own two feet as grown-ups. i'm not talking choate-level schools, here, we're not in that social stratosphere, just 'regular' people trying to say something about their financial importance by what town they live in and what school they send their kids to. i feel that in many ways, we've done a great disservice requiring bachelor-level degrees for entry-level jobs for people that aren't ready to darken the door of a university. not to say that college should be an elitist academic institution, just that a college degree doesn't mean what it used to- so again, i ask, what is our main goal for education in the first place?

sorry for the dissertation proposal, MD...


i keep coming back and reading through all the comments. it's fascinating to hear everyone's divergent opinions. no wonder education is such a hot-buttom issue. way to strike up a great debate, md!


An nescis, mi MetroDad, quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?


I have a friend who says if he was elected President -- which he admits he won't, since he smokes pot -- the first thing he would do is swap the Defense and Education budget. Then he'd fire everyone at the Dept of Ed and ask the teachers how to spend the money.


You're right, COD, it's relatively easy to become a teacher. In the same way, I think it's pretty easy to become a doctor. After all, according to doctor friend of mine, med schools make sure you graduate, even if that means you have to retake an exam several times. What matters is the actual person who is doing the teaching, or doctoring, as the case may be. I just re-read the original post and I noticed that I misread it. I shouldn't read journals and try to comment on them late at night (yes, 10p is late for me).
So, then, perhaps it is easy to become one thing or another, but to actually be one is another story.
I also have to agree with teacher. You do need passion to willingly enter a profession that requires so much work without adequate compensation, but that slowly gets sapped when you deal with students and parents, even at the best of schools. However, when you have knowledge and ability, then you persevere and hopefully, the passion gets renewed. Unfortunately, the passion isn't always there, as evidenced by the high burnout rate amongst teachers; especially in the urban school districts.
Will more money solve the problem with education? on the one hand, no. We do need a change in the infrastructure. We need to stop putting so much emphasis on standardized tests and actually assess what students know and can do, not what they memorized. At the same time, there is a teacher shortage in this country, particularly in the urban and rural districts. Most of the very intelligent, qualified people choose to work in the private sector because it pays more, and I'm not talking about private schools. Illinois is experiencing a shortage of math and science teachers right now. So where are all the scientists and mathematicians? Doing research, practicing medicine, working as accountants. Some school districts are so desperate for highly qualified teachers that they are offering insane teaching bonuses to tempt teachers to work there. What is an insane teaching bonus? A down payment on a house or a $10,000 signing bonus. I wish I was joking, but I'm not.
Hopefully, the changes that we need to see happening will, if not in our generation, in the next.
Wow, this is the first time I left a comment this long. It's pretty obvious I'm procrastinating, isn't it?

Little Bird

I went to private schools the whole way through, montessori for pre-K and K through 8, then on to high school for more of the same. My father was the principal at that K-8 school and I'm here to tell you, public school teachers get paid more than he did. He also taught 7th and 8th grades. I should say this was a Lutheran school. For years his income was below the poverty line. I heartily agree that teachers need to be paid more than they are. These are the people who spend many hours a day with your children, helping them, talking to them (hopefully) and providing a model by which your children judge all adults who are NOT their parents.
I would love to be a teacher, but alas, I cannot pay the bills with that as a career. Glutton for punishment that I am, I intend to become a librarian.
Oh yeah, for all that private school education, I never managed to get that college degree, but that will change. I will not be a bartender for the rest of my life. Send her to what ever school you feel most comfortable with, THAT is what is important.

Little Bird

I should have mentioned that my father was one of several fantastic teachers at that grade school. Almost all of them were passionate about teaching. Almost all of them were not only engaging but were willing to tell a parent that they needed to get their act together at home, because a student was slipping. At the risk of pissing off that parent. There were only 2 teachers at that school that dd not pass muster, and one of those was a sub.


(Cheering & Clapping)
I'm a teacher so your comments about better salaries for teachers are appreciated. My immigrant husband came to the U.S. with me 5 years ago, works in a job that requires 0 years of education beyond high school, and out-earns me by several thousand dollars. I'm happy for his salary, but that is seriously messed up.

That being said however, it'd be hard to find a teacher who's in it for the money (obviously--since we aren't making any) so that may or may not be a factor in hiring quality educators. We're teaching because we care about children and have a passion for education. But who knows? Maybe the 50% or so good teachers who now quit within their first five years of teaching would stay if the salary made it more worth their while.


I applaud your idealism. I shared them too until I left the NYC public school system after 7 years of teaching. It wasn't the pay (I was earning $60,000 after getting 30 credits after my masters which is like 2 masters). It was the politics, micromanagement, teaching to the tests that drove me nuts. I now live in Northern Cali in an affluent district and had the opportunity to compare schools. I noticed that the curriculum is the same (or at least similar) as well as the teacher qualifications. The only big difference I see is parental involvement. Here, parents are required to put in X number of hours of volunteer work throughout the year. This only possible because one parent can afford to stay home and not work. In NYC, we were lucky if parents showed up at the Parent Teacher Conferences. Basically, making a living for most of these families were a struggle, let alone making time to help them with their homework when they barely spoke English themselves. If more parents like you truly invested their time (not just money) into the lower income schools, then perhaps, there would be change made...but most people are not willing to do it at the cost of their own child's education or their own time. I plan to return to teaching in the near future after I decide what to do with my own child's education.


We have the same problems here in Canada. My little munckin starts kindergarten next September and I'm praying for a lottery win to ensure she doesn't have to attend our public schools. We actually had a group of parents sue our school board because the standardized tests were too hard!
That is why the public school system in our province is falling apart. Teachers are, for the most part, doing what they can with extremely limited resources. Sadly, though, many parents treat the public school system like a free babysitter and that makes it a challenge to provide a decent education to the students who want to be there and for the parents that are encouraging their children to excel.
As for teachers making more money, I agree. For all that they do, teachers should at least be faily compensated, and sadly, they're not.


Sorry, I meant fairly... not faily. :)


I think most graduates at my high school wouldn't even know what a Pulitzer Prize was. It was a suburban public school with good resources and great teachers. However, it was a very working-class neighborhood and parents didn't have any aspirations for their kids. More than half my graduating class didn't attend college. They figured they didn't need to study because they were just going to end up being mechanics or electricians like their parents.

So I agree with you. Public or Private. Inner-City school or suburbia. It doesn't matter. The main thing is having parents who motivate their kids and demonstrate the value of a good education.

Great post.


Wow, you do know the way to throw a grenade into a room, MD.

In the interest of disclosure, I've never worked in a public school district as a full time employee. I've only done site visits in a clinical capacity. For the past 15+ years, however, I've worked in independent schools with students from grades 1- 12, both boarding and day, urban, rural, and posh suburban (there's a reason my blog is entitled Fear and Loathing in Stepford).
All of this experience has shown me is that there's no "right" answer here. Parents are all powerful until kids hit a certain age. Then, kids are more influenced by peers than either parents or teachers. I've worked with kids with enormous privilege and who've succeeded in spite of all the odds.

I stay in independent schools because I value the ability to be autonomous and create curricula. Most people will be surprised to know that the great majority of independent school educators earn even less than their public school colleagues and that most of us did not study education at the college level; we are masters in our chosen fields (for me? art history and psychology). Class size is smaller and discipline issues are handled differently in private schools.
Children of involved, educated parents tend to turn into- wait for it- involved, educated adults. We've chosen private education for our kiddo for reasons that aren't germane to this conversation. That's what we wanted for her and we're willing to make big sacrifices to pay the tuition.


Dude, you got some seriously smart readers.


I was fortunate to grow up in an area with well-funded, excellent public schools. Back then my friends and I could all take calculus and French and AP history, etc. as well as art and drama, and we all went to college.

Now all that "extra" stuff has been cut right out of public education. So, my husband and I are pretty committed to Waldorf education for our kids because of the emphasis on the arts (among other reasons), except...they tend to be filled with rich white kids. (As was my public high school, unfortunately.) We're not sure that we want our kids to grow up with a skewed view of reality in that way.

I totally agree with the idea that it is the family that makes the crucial difference for kids' success in school. Sure, you need teachers who are paid well and supported by the curriculum and the administration. But my success in school was not just because of where I studied; it was also because my parents were always involved directly with the school, and they cultivated a love of learning in me.

And about what J-Dog said: I would be perfectly happy if my kids decided to be mechanics or plumbers or whatever. If that makes them happy, they can help people, etc., then I'm sure they'll find ways to use their brains as well. After all, they chose their nerdy parents, right?


I completely agree with you.

I'm disappointed in our schools (even though we are in Wisconsin, which does much better than most states). My kids are currently in grades 5, 3 & K. We have sent them to both private and public schools. This year they are all in public school. They have yet to learn more at school than they have learned at home.

I want to see public schools work. I want to see parents get involved. However, most parents are NOT involved and have no idea what goes on in school, nor do they even think about what SHOULD be going on in school. And my kids are surrounded by their kids all day. It's not a pretty picture. Yet sheltering my kids from what's out there isn't the solution, either.

Even more sad, a great majority of what goes on in school is all about playing politics, and about political correctness, not about teaching.

Also, schools greatly overstep their bounds, assuming all parents are completely incompetent. You really have to stay on top of what is going on day in and day out.

It's frustrating, and there's little wonder why more parents every year decide to homeschool their kids (though I don't think that's the answer, either).

My uncle has been a high school teacher for many years, in both public and private schools. He did NOT send his daughter to public school.

JJ Daddy-O

Shit, MD, anybody from NYC who remembers New Lincoln, Dwight and Walden Schools knows that private schools churn out a lot of dumbasses,too.
I am a product of NYC public education, and I bow to no prepster in the citing of obscure literary references: [What need have I for a stick at] This feast of pure reason?


Yeah, well...I'm 50, went to public schools until high school (I landed in one for "bright underachievers" and dropped out of it when I got religion in 11th grade). Nevertheless, my generation is the leading edge of the public-school mouth-breather-itude that is flourishing today. We didn't learn to diagram sentences, which would have helped me lay out the grammar in foreign languages. Nobody threatened me with non-graduation if I didn't pass algebra. And my knowledge of American history is limited to the usual clichés, except for the bits that interested me enough to actually read about them on my own time.

I've never read _Titus Andronicus,_ but I assume there's poison in it.

I had to google "bershon," and though I can't find any evidence for it, I suspect it's a clumsy transliteration of some French word. Can't check it out because I can't figure out what the theoretical French spelling might be. "Berçon"? No, that would be pronounced "ber-SON." But "bercion" doesn't look right. "Berchant?"

Maybe it's "méchant," savage, wild, fierce?

Maybe it's Yiddish?


Who is this nebulous group of people that determine teacher salaries? Why, that would be us, the taxpayers!

We only have our cheap-ass selves to blame.


Hear hear to education and public schools. Being an Asian immigrant (as you can relate to) my parents' main concern was education no matter how many jobs they have to take, but everyone has to go on to college. And we were all products of PS. And so will our children.

It's sad that Dice-K's contract is $160M but yet, our town doesn't have enough budget so every single Wed. the kids have 1/2 day of school. The emphasis of sports in this country is mind boggling!

And I love reading your blog simply b/c where else can I learn so many new vocabs and literary references!! Thanks Teach!


Something special for the private-school educated grammar enthusiast:



Hear, hear, buddy! I'm in college to become a teacher and frankly, am kind of terrified to enter the big bad world of public education before too long. Love what you wrote about parents, though -- cause even my classmates are all gungho about practically being mothers & fathers to their students. Which is a great and supportive (if somewhat idealistic) attitude to start off with, but the people who birthed these children must be challenged to step up to the plate.

P.S. As far as I'm aware, it is only in NYC that public schools are called PS-##. In most places, the schools have names (usually named after local/national education figures), which imparts a measure of identity and community to the students, teachers and parents.


fuck, dude, I need some time to digest this. Can I get back to you with a better comment?

Unions Suck

I went to NYC public schools until college. I had many great teachers, but on the other hand, 1/3 of them sucked and were lucky to be in a system with tenure. The problem is that the union protects everyone. Get rid of the deadweight and distribute their salaries to the remaining ones with talent. Class sizes would increase, but the teachers I admired had at least 50% more kids in their classes than what I see in my kid's elementary school.


My parents were BOTH public school teachers in NYC yet they chose to send me to private school. If that's not an indictment of the state of public education in New York City, I don't know what is.


What JP and I are struggling with in the decision between public and private schools, is not the education part--studies have shown essentially no difference between the two, at least in terms of test scores as a surrogate for knowledge--it's whether we want religious education or same-sex schooling for our children. I'm a total fan and product of public schools and really value the emotional and social intelligence I think it gave me, as well as a keen sensitivity to class and service. I do wonder, though, whether I would have flourished even more in an all-girls setting in terms of self-confidence, conviction, and empowerment.

I think it's going to come down to weighing the options of all the choices (and fully aware of how lucky we are to have those choices), and finding the best fit for our children. We need a system that can support our values, whether that be public or private.


You know, this doesn't have to be an either / or thing. I went to Catholic school for 8 years and then public high school. I learned early how to survive in a rigorous environment but in high school learned more about people than my rich white Catholic school classmates could ever teach. I'm going to repeat this for my kids because the schools in my area are full of kids that come in not speaking English and I don't want my kids to have to deal with that – they need to compete with kids who will give them a run for their money. Also, they'll be able to make Christmas trees at Christmas and talk about evolution in an appropriate scientific way without ideological whackos interfering. By the time they reach high school, my kids will have solid fundamentals and will be ready to explore the “real world”. You might consider if a blended approach would work for Peanut.


My husband is a public school teacher, so I thank you for your one-man campaign to improve our meager earnings. For what it's worth, he knew what your Titus Andronicus joke was in reference to. I work in nonprofit and had no clue. Your Peanut is safe yet.

Karen C.

Wow, really fun and well-said post. Glad I happened across it.


Well, kinda.

I agree that about the public school system being hoisted by parents who can afford to send their kids to private school but don't. Still that's not the same as saying that the public school that the Peanut will attend will be as good as you'd like it to be just because you're her parent. There are many reasons for choosing public over private, or vice-versa. I'm not sure, however, that making your daughter the subject of your grand experiment should be one of them. I would think that you owe her the best education you can give her, all things being equal, and not use her to prove a point.
The quality of public education in any country is fundamental to the general well being and success of the country and its citizens. It will certainly have an impact on the world that the Old-King and Big-Red grow up in. However, I think that what will be better in the long run, for them, will be to give them every educational advantage we can while working politically to advantage the public school system as a whole. Some Manhattan schools are great for the very reasons you mention. Most are turd for the corollary: most people are ignorant. All you end up with are de-facto private schools because the only people who can afford to live in the catchment area are wealthy, educated people who care about the education of their children. Even if your experiment works it will only work where there are like minded individuals. Besides, you are witnessing what's happening right around you. Families are moving to Tribeca because of the great PS's, you wave bye-bye to the small class size, then you say hello to overcrowding. Sure, eventually, another PS will take the spill-over and relieve the pressure, but how long will that take?


Who doth molest my contemplation? I was pretty sure that my pre-pregnancy brain was never going to make a reapperance. It's nice to know I still have some recollection of the Shakespearian readings. Right on about public school!


How the heck did I miss this awesome post? I agree with you on so much of it. (Although my educational consultant mom constantly reminds me that tenured ps teachers are making 6 figures.)

We seriously seriously need to talk about this stuff because I'm starting to be in full private preschool freak-out mode right now, and that's just not me.


Hey MD, been reading but not commenting lately. Just wanted to throw out my previously unspoken support for your support for public school. I totally agree with most of the post. As you know, we've got our daughter in an Oakland Public School over here aka the home of ebonics and one of the worst school districts in California if not the country. Still, I went to Oakland public schools and I read the standard high school Shakespeare (Hamlet, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet) along with canonical works such as The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Huckleberry Finn. I also got to read Native Son, Black Boy, and Invisible Man. I had to memorize E.E. Cummings, Langston Hughes along with Donne and Longfellow. My parents couldn't afford private school, but they make sure I did my homework and continued to learn as much as I could whenever I was curious about anything. A private school will not make a dumb kid smart and a public school will not make a smart kid dumb. I truly believe that no matter how bad a school initially appears what matters is parents who care and kids who care to learn. That's what I got, that's what I'm giving to my kids. I'm pretty sure I turned out alright.


My daughter's go to a small private school and for us, it's what's best for them. I think when you said: "Whether you send your kid to public school or private school, none of it will mean anything if you don't get involved in your kid's education." it was the most significant part of your post. At my daughters' school, they have a high rate of parental involvement (above and beyond what is required when signing the school contract). The teacher (or school) doesn't even have to ask and their are parents waiting in the wings to help out in any way possible. I can't imagine not being involved in any aspect of my children's life.

The teachers there get paid much less than the public schools in the area (and most have been there for many years) and you can tell they are doing it because they love what they are doing, not because of the pay. The class sizes are larger than the public schools in the are, but it works.

We think of their school more as an extra large family. The different families there are always there for each other and you know you always have someone to turn to.

My daughter's first grade teacher has been trying to teach the class that at school, their class is a "family". They are together 8 hours a day (more than after school which is usually filled with activities and homework and parent's working) and thus, they need to treat each other as a family. At a recent school event, the kids could sit anywhere they wanted but I was amazed that her ENTIRE class choose to sit together. They didn't have to but did because they enjoy each other. They are always looking out for each other. She has a great class so I know that's a part of it, but I don't think they would have the bonds they do if she attended PS.

Smiling Mom

Thanks for this post. Being a public school teacher from California, I'm amazed that I keep debating with myself on the benefits of having my children attend public vs. private school.

Your thoughts on this subject were greatly appreciated.


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