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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Choosing a School for your Kids: Public? Parochial? Private?

The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
There are all kinds of good schools. And there are all kinds of bad ones. The educational mission of the wealthiest, most religious, private school can be corrupted by a student, parent or staff culture of special privilege, bullying, or worse.

But aside from the sloganistic blather found on “mission statements” -- public schools lack a practicable consensus on what they are about, and provide unique opportunities for corruption for five reasons:
  • a. they are schools of last resort in a compulsory system;
  • b. this makes them susceptible to constraint by underinformed courts to institute procedures often contrary to good educational practice; for example, housing students awaiting trial for even felonious offenses;
  • c. special interest groups can gain control over school practices by combining vociferousness with legal ingenuity;
  • d. not only naive idealists, but the weak-minded and pathologically sentimental are seduced into assuming teaching positions which they -- often with good reason -- abandon at the national rate of 13% per year; consequently
  • e. most surviving educators do not possess sufficient sense of profession to take risks. They shy away from speaking out against parents, administrators, board members or politicians whose efforts distort the school’s educational mission.

Choosing a good school can be hard, even if you have the money to afford options.
For more on this topic see “The Evils of Public Schools.”
-- EGR