Monday, November 05, 2007

Public vs Private Schools

Reading Learning to Conform by Fredrick Kunkle gave me a shock of recognition. Their family's experiences and ours are eerily similar, even though we are on opposite coasts.

Mark and I still don't know if we did the right thing by moving Iris from a private to a public school. She was perfectly happy and well-served educationally by the private school. The public school 2 blocks away appears to be obsessed with testing standards to the exclusion of all else. Iris is extremely bored academically and hasn't made any close friends at her new school. She still mainly plays on weekends with kids she met at her old school and the daycare center before that.

But, when she was at the private school, there were uncomfortable conversations about why she had been to Hawaii only once and not every year like other kids. Why didn't she have a nanny? Why didn't we have a second house? Why is our house so small? Were we poor? Why did I have to work? Why don't I go back to the daddy store and get a rich one so I can be a stay at home mom (SAHM)?

The old school was a strange atmosphere. Several of the family's were embroiled in divorces that lasted much longer than the marriages. These are the divorces that lawyer's salivate over. There were tens of millions (or possibly a hundred million, depending on stock prices) at stake. This was not an appropriate milieu for a child of two scientists working at a non-profit. I just flinch every time I think about the carbon footprint of some of the families at that school.

There is an upside to public schools. With the money we saved, we upgraded an occasional babysitter to a two night a week nanny. With the extra help around the house, my health improved. (We were so sad when she moved away for college.) Best of all, no more mommies with breast implants to contend with.


  1. Yeah, private schools can give kids a really screwed up view of the world. I went to public schools my entire life before college and one of my best friends came into the public school system when we were in middle school. Before that, she was attending a gifted private school program in Hillsboro. She said her father decided to move her to a public school when she asked her father why their family didn't have a butler.

    I'm sorry Iris is having some trouble adjusting to her new environment. Change is always hard.

  2. Ouch! I followed the links to your previous entries after reading this one, and I have to say that I don't know how anyone manages to raise a happy child anymore -- with peers and the media force-feeding the luxe lifestyle. I hope that it all evens out for Iris, and that she is able to adjust to her new school. Even though I'm not a parent, I can sympathize with so much of this.

  3. Anonymous19:55

    What tough, tough decisions. I was a public school kid, but I think things were different, to some small degree. The only private school options were to send me away. Even though I don't have to worry about kids in school,I can certainly relate to the conundrums faced by parents, at least thinking conscientious parents and see how there are no easy, or perhaps even good answers. I am sorry that Iris is having trouble; it is very difficult being bored in school. I hope you can all work out a workable solution.


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