I’m a product of public schools. I’ve attended public schools in Alabama, Michigan, and the most public schools of them all, Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) in Frankfurt, Germany. Telling people that you attended school, public no less, in the state of Alabama often gets you side-eyes that register somewhere between the earthquake in Cali this week and a typhoon showing up in Kansas on the “I’m sorry to hear that” scale.
Despite my entire public school upbringing, I’ve found my education to be stellar. In fact, most of my closest friends all attended public school for at least the majority of their schooling, with smatterings here and there of a year or two spent in private school. All of my closest friends have graduate degrees. Amongst my squad are multiple PhDs, beaucoup lawyers, a few economists, etc. Everybody has at least a Master’s degree in something or other.
And here I am…putting my daughter in private school for her education.
On a purely cerebral level, it creates somewhat of a conflict of interest to me. I pay public taxes to live where I live to support schools I’d never send my child to (I do realize that we all do this). In fact, there’s literally a school close enough to my front door that I could watch my daughter walk from the door INTO the school without ever putting on so much as a flip or flop. I always wanted to be one of those parents who supported the community and did his best to make his community better. And that’s still my goal…I’m just not about to sacrifice my child’s future towards that effort. To say the schools in my neighborhood suck would be a compliment. Such is the public school debacle that is DC Public Schools. I’ve written about this before at the beginning of the process towards looking for a school for my daughter.
Like most major cities, DC is a city full of people with means and people who mean to do really well but life got in the way, and thus our public schools probably rival most major school systems. Largely “not great” schools with a handful of really top notch public schools usually out of reach to those without enough money to own significant amounts of Facebook stock. There’s always the lottery process, but well, its called a lottery for a reason. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t win. And when everybody is aiming for the same schools, well, just like the odds of winning the actual lottery, your odds of winning decrease. Unlike the odds of winning Warren Buffett’s billion since it seems like the likelihood of that happening is about the same as me becoming in a white man AND being the first man to have a baby on the same day that Jay-Z gets sworn in as President of Texas.
I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends about the private vs public school process. He made a very valid point in that no matter what school we send our daughter to, she’ll likely apply to the same colleges (when we get to that road) no matter where she goes to K-12 because she’s always going to be smart and always going to excel. And that’s a very valid point. Point of reference, Young Panamontana is going to Spelman. She will likely be able to pull that off from anywhere. No shots. Just the facts, ma’am. But the issue there is the time between 5 and 18. Attempting to give your child the option to maximize their potential is where the questions start to arise. I know nearly every person with a child that they care about (the news really scares me sometimes with the stories of these people who clearly do not enjoy the parenting gig) spends at least sometime struggling with where to send their kids to school. Those lucky enough to live in districts where the schools are good are set. But the rest of us go on a mad dash towards choices. It’s a nerve-wracking situation because you want to make sure that you don’t make the wrong decision. It’s like getting into…actually, its not like at all…it IS getting into a relationship with a school where your hope your child will thrive and truly be able to shoot for that goal of being whoever they want to be.
It only sucks that in order for me to feel secure there’s very few public schools I’d be comfortable with. Charter schools are a great option here in DC but we’re already doing that and it’s time to let that ship Titanic. My child already goes to what is regarded as the most touted charter school for her age range in the city – the very school we’re pulling her out of is one many people are attempting to get their children into. But ultimately, you do what’s best for your child and in doing so, my family became one of those individuals who forewent the public schools for the private. And I couldn’t be happier.
As an aside, one of the biggest hangups I’ve had about private school has been the lack of diversity in most of these schools, namely The Blacks are obviously not very well represented. But let me tell you something, much to my surprise, quite a number of women I know went to private school which started more than a few debates about how well adjusted they are. Those debates often turn into what it sounds like when the HBCU vs PWI conversations start. Point is, via these conversations I’ve managed to realize that at the end of the day, my daughter has a father (and to a lesser extent a mother) who over-Blacks it at every turn. She’ll know who she is and where she comes from. There’s nothing like bringing that up in an admissions interview by the way. It’s interesting to watch the administrators reactions when you do indeed say, “I’m concerned about the lack of Blackness here, since I’m pretty sure you can tell, our daughter is Black.” But it’s my job (and her mother’s ) to make sure her esteem and identity are in tact, not any school. So I let it go is the main bullet point. I just felt like sharing.
All this to say, nay ask, when it comes to your child’s (or future child’s) (or hope for your nieces or nephews if children give you the beegees), how much do you think about their education? You going public? Private? Home schooling?
Basically, how do you plan to teach the kids assuming that you believe they are the future?
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I’M A PAPPY aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3