(Editor's Note: This piece, soliciting reader opinion, posted Wednesday on the Half Moon Bay Patch site. By Friday afternoon, over 200 readers had voiced their opinions in a poll attached to the article, and 16 readers made comments.
Clearly, the issue hits a nerve with many parents and non-parents.
We wanted to get a wider range of opinion from all our Patch sites in San Mateo County. After reading the article, please let us know what you think, either in comments or by voting in our poll that follows the article.)
It’s the end of April, when many soon-to-be Kindergarten parents have already made their school choice for this fall.
For many, deciding between public and private school for their child was a big part of the grueling process, and a political one, too. A recent article on www.babble.com by Rhiana Maidenberg has left some parents still wondering about their school choice, bringing up questions like:
• Is it a moral obligation as a parent to send your kids to public school?
• Is being a part of the public system really going to fix it?
• Will I sacrifice my child’s education to be the one to make things better at the local public school?
• Will the private school be socially and economically diverse enough to help my child grow to be a well-rounded world citizen?
In the article, Maidenberg explains why she’s sending her kids to public school despite the public system’s flaws such as budget cuts, large class sizes, minimal resources to support the influx of English Language Learners, and the standardized testing of the No Child Left Behind mandates, which are intended to narrow the achievement gap, but has subjected children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills instead.
Maidenberg says she’s making the choice “to be a part of the greater system, hoping to see a trend of more families with the time and means to invest in public schools actually doing so — because if we don’t take the time to make quality public education a possibility for all children, who will?”
The moral obligation idea is altruistic and lovely in its concept of personal sacrifice for the collective common good — that we have a moral obligation to educate all children — not just our own. But is supporting a public institution, which for some parents has failed to impress them, at the cost of their children's education beyond the call of duty?
What are your feelings?
We know parents want a quality education for children, and many private and public school parents would both agree that there is a great and pressing need to invest in the public school system.
But why do some parents opt out and choose a private school? Are those parents “immoral” or un-politically correct for not sending their children to the local public school? Is going to a private school instead of the local public school a disservice to the community? Do parents have a moral obligation to send their kids to the local public school?
Please take the poll below and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.