Paying for private school in the DMV area

Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school for Washingtonians

Reasons people send their children to private school

Recently on a message board I occasionally read, a parent was wondering if they should send their child to private school. So she asked the parents of other private school children if her child would feel poor compared to other families and feel bad about themselves as a result.

One respondent decided to inform the original poster on the real reason they were considering private school:

If it were truly “education” that you care about, your kid would be in a high performing public school. Private school parents care more about the “experience” which is code for “rubbing shoulders with rich people to learn their values and customs and not hard working immigrant values.”

Angry person art

By SmurfyOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Wow, I am glad that respondent cleared it up for them – I bet the parent didn’t even know they were against education!

This kind of shaming response is quite common and the main reason for this web site. Those kind of knee jerk responses assumes that parents send their kids to private school to “rub shoulders with the rich people and learn their customs”.

I attended private schools for 12 years and have paid for a child to attend one nearly as long.

Not once in this time have I seen or heard anyone doing some sort of anthropological study of the ways of the wealthy. Indeed, all the kids attend all the same classes and, at many schools, are required to wear the same clothing (uniforms) to avoid status from being an issue.

Here are the reasons I have actually heard from parents sending their children to private or independent charter schools, as well as home schooling.

  • School matches the families religion
  • Alignment with the family values
  • Specialized learning environment where the private school focused on particular area such as
    • Special needs
    • College preparation
    • Military career preparation schools
    • The arts (dance, theater etc.)
    • An international based education where the child learns the language of their culture (very good for diplomats who will need to return to their country at the end of service)
    • Greek tradition (sports and academic having equal weight)
  • Smaller class size enabling better learning outcomes
  • Additional learning resources are available in some of the private schools – one I know of has Ipads, the other offers horseback riding for kids (apparently it calms the kids who have sensory issues).

I am sure I am missing some. And I would love to hear from any parent that sends their kids to private school to study the culture and norms of wealthy people to learn their ways!

And for everyone else – I do want to assure you that selecting a private school means you are focused on providing a good education for your child. And an educated child becomes an educated adult which benefits all of society. Keep up the great work and sacrifice and thank you.


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  1. I think you are making a strawman argument. Few are claiming it is snobbery, they are questioning the value proposition of paying a lot extra for very little, if any benefits. It is analogous to paying exhorbitant tuition to go to an Ivy League school when State U offers the same degree for much less $. I only have my family experience to judge by, maybe we got lucky. But few private school kids could compete with my public school kids. Or with me. But that doesn’t mean a private schooled me wouldn’t have been more sucessful so I have to admit I’m voicing my own prejudice. you are as likely to be right as me. And we all will do anything for our kids.

    • G. Ruga

      April 13, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you for your feedback and insight! Your feedback is an excellent data point for all families to consider as they select a program for their particular situation. The take away – and one which I should have mentioned in the original post – is that state universities provide a world class education and, from a cost perspective, usually a much better investment.
      And it’s entirely possible that I may be over interpreting their comments (or that I am simply wrong) and being too defensive so I need to watch for that in my own thinking. Love the comment and thanks for taking the time to post!!

      The only nuance I would add is that private schools might offer other attributes that are of interest or benefit to some (but not all) families. For example, Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for the Deaf in the world, prides itself in being a “barrier-free education” and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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