February 02, 2018

Horse 2371 - Why Am I Paying To Send Your Kids To A Private School?

This week, after a long hot summer, was the first week back at school across the state. It only took two days into the school year but when I was on the bus coming back from the bank to the office, I saw three primary school aged kids from a private school beating up a kid from a public school.
I'm not going to do the school where these kids are from a disservice by naming them, other than to say that their school motto is "Generosity, Faith and Courage" in what is either a case of irony or insanely myopic blindness.

I make no bones about the fact that I abhor private schools. I don't like the entrenchment of class that they promote and I really don't like the attitude taken by parents who send their children to private schools when they try to convince you that their choice somehow saves the taxpayer money. I mean really if you want to be pedantic about it, as someone who doesn't even have children you're not really saving me any money at all; if anything, the fact that you've chosen to spawn a sprog places a need on the drawstrings of the public purse to educate them. On top of that, it's being done less efficiently because education is subject to the sorts of economies of scale as any other good or service which is being produced and all private schooling does is add elements of inefficiency through duplication and the profit motive.

The truth is that every single dollar which is paid in school fees to a private educational institution is a dollar which not only doesn't go into the public system but also creates demand drivers which degrade the public system. This has unfortunate consequences.
That might of course be your intent. The existence of private schools and hence school fees, creates a barrier to entry based solely on economic means. This is a method of open segregation based on socio economic principles. By sending your children to private school, you send out one of two messages. Either you feel that your children get a better quality of education than they would in the public system, which says by default that you inadvertently or openly wish that those lesser means get a worse education because they are poorer, or your disdain for people of lesser means than yourself is so much on display that you wish for your children not to have to associate with them. Either way, you help to create an entire cohort of people who feel that they are a better class of people than those who didn't go to private school and this is backed up by the purest economic signal of all.
It could also be a matter of direct signalling on your part. In the future, you wish for future employers to consider your children for employment and or other educational advantage and you're willing to purchase a piece of paper which demonstrates the economic class that your children come from. There is definitely a case to be made here because I've actually seen and overheard a couple of chaps going through people's resumes and chucking out applicants based solely on metrics like their names and where they went to school. If you're sending your children to private school on that basis, then you are endorsing that attitude and backing it up with the placement of your money.

If you send your children to a private school because you claim that you want to your children to have a religious education, then that inadvertently says something about the quality of your parenting. It says that you do such a bad job at instilling your values in your children, that by paying for private education, you expect someone else to do that job for you.
Moreover it says that you actually prefer the idea that your children aren't exposed to people who believe something else than you do. It should be obvious to all and sundry that we live in a fairly pluralistic society where people of lots of different faiths and beliefs rub against each other. By not exposing your children to different people who might have entirely different outlooks on the world, you reinforce a sense of othering which is the breeding ground of both fear and mistrust.
That sense of othering was clearly on display when I saw those private school kids beat up on that kid from the public school and even if they care nothing about the issues of religion, they certainly do know that the public school kid is poorer.
In general, people already have a tendency to associate more with people who look like them and come from the same socio economic background. That's true in the western suburbs as much as it is in a place like Mosman. In the west though, where the differences might be demarcated into zones which contain actual poverty, then sending your kids to a private school, exacerbates the problem even further.

Then there's the rather obvious fact that the state already provides education to children as part of its obligation to maintaining a cohesive society. If you have chosen to send your children to a private school when the public school system exists, I don't understand why you should expect the government to fund even a single dollar to your choice. You have outright rejected the provision of services and as far as I'm concerned, you shouldn't be able to get something special because you are deliberately selfish. I don't have children; so if I asked of you'd like to pay for a new Ferrari 458 Italia which you are never allowed to use, then you'd quite rightly tell me to get lost; yet that is exactly what you are expecting the general public to do when you ask them to fund your choice to send your child to a private school - a choice which costs tens of thousands of dollars, every single year, for more than a decade.

No wonder I saw three kids from a private school beating up a kid from a public school.
That's probably reasonable in their eyes, to see a public school kid as less than worthy of respect for no other reason than they go to a public school because that's the attitude their parents demonstrate to the world; backed up by money.

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