I get the need for private school. My cousins grew up in downtown Fort Lauderdale and there were literally no options for public schools so they attended private school. When I was in middle school, our city didn't have a public school. I also get that you can have really nice homes zoned in really poor school districts. It happens. But it doesn't always. Our schools are always ranked high. The high school I graduated from, where Ethan is zoned to go, was ranked in the top 1% in the country. We've always had top notch technology. Maybe as a kid it went unappreciated, but when my husband and I are house hunting before kids were even a thought, we knew the school district we wanted to be in. We knew how fortunate our kids would be to attend these public schools, with this technology, with these opportunities. My husband will work his butt off so that we can live here, so that one day Ethan can attend these schools, and I'll sign online and see local moms complaining about the "outdated" technology or the "better" schools with the fancier bells and whistles. It drives me crazy. Because the truth is, there are schools in our county alone who don't have any computers, who don't have any books, who don't have an ice hockey team or a swimming team or all of the other teams these people complain have "outdated uniforms." It's like everyone becomes some sort of jaded zombie who doesn't realize how lucky they have it and, you know, if the uniforms are outdated, private school. It's the only logical solution. It's the only choice to make when you're zoned for a public high school that ranks the top 1% in the country because, duh, the painting is old and it looks like it's falling apart.
My sister's 2011 high school parade, she was on the dance team
Because I'm just a kid and life was a nightmare?
I can't think of anyone I knew in public school who graduated to be a professional panhandler, but I can think of a few in private school who ended up a little close to that. Because how much money you have has nothing to do with the success you can achieve. Because how much money your parents have has nothing to do with the success you can achieve. Because the paint color of the exterior of a school has nothing to do with the success you can achieve.
My husband and I in 2001 before we were dating. Aww.
I am proud to say that we don't need private school where we live because Ethan is zoned for some pretty sweet public schools. I am proud to say that our choosing public school does not mean he's doomed for a life of inferiority, that he's robbed of the arts (photography class was my world in high school, my friends and I created our own literary magazine appropriately titled Misanthropy -- the arts are alive in our public school system). I am proud and excited to say that one day he will graduate the same high school that his daddy and I did. I am proud that even if the computers are an older version of Windows or the swimming team hasn't changed their uniforms in ten years that Ethan will have the opportunities I am sensible enough to know he's lucky to have because, let's get real, how many other high school students get to be on a swim team that shares a pool with Olympic swimmers? I want him to learn and be allowed to have strengths and weaknesses. It's okay if he can't do better than a C in math and is rocking his English classes. I want him to get a rational sense of the real world, both good and bad. I want him to attend school with kids who have and kids who have not, with kids who drive their shiny new Mercedes to school and kids who rely on public transportation and government assistance, to understand that the world is broader than how it feels. And, seriously, if he wants to pierce his nose and dye his hair purple, he's got my blessing. I want him to be young, and find himself, and not graduate high school confused and stunted. (Or, heck, willingly wear Abercrombie everyday of his life -- whatever makes him happy.)
I'm not saying everyone has a negative private school experience. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who did. Sometimes people want to choose private school because it has what they're looking for -- and that's well and good. But I'm saying that sometimes we need to step back and count our blessings and realize how fortunate we actually are, and that there's more than one right way to do things (gasp, shock, horror). I'm proud of our public school system and proud to know my kids will be attending. And the next time I hear "if you want your kids to go to college, they have to go to private school," I want to know that person's academic merits and what beyond exceptional thing they've done with their life. (Because, newsflash, graduating from an ivy league university isn't grounds for being a successful adult and, newsflash, you can graduate from both public school and an ivy league university just fine.) And the next time someone says they're choosing private school because a public school building is ugly, well, for some there is simply no hope.