One thing that has consistently surprised me about paying for private school is the unsolicited advice and harsh criticism we regularly receive.
We have heard simple advice such as you are wasting your money to all the way to it is unethical to send our child to private school.
In few other areas of our life have our decisions been reviewed, rated and then commented on so consistently.
There are lots of other easy targets – our home, my really old shoes, food, entertainment and religion are ripe for the picking. They might get a raised eye brow but rarely do we receive a detailed unsolicited analysis of our decisions like we do with our choice of education.
Online it is even worse. Here is a just one of many examples; If you send your kid to private school, you are a bad person.
I consider myself a pretty open person. For each criticism and suggestion I have careful considered the premise. Am I wasting our limited resources? Am I making education worse for other children? Is a school based on religious values wrong – that is- I am alienating religious minorities?
I have spent years considering, and reconsidering, this feedback. And would certainly be nice to have the extra cash or go on fancy vacations or purchase a new car from the modern era.
As a mental exercise I followed Charlie Munger’s advice and I inverted the problem. Come along with me.
Let us imagine there were no private schools at all. That small church school around the corner – gone. Harvard. Gone. Hogwarts. Gone. Evangelical schools. Gone. Homeschooling – illegal.
Have a child with extreme dyslexia who needs a different learning environment? Sorry those schools are gone as well.
What is left is a pure government monopoly. No competition. No incentive to innovate. No incubators to experiment and fail and try again. Just one system. Legislation over teacher expertise. Scale over specialization. The motor vehicle registration of education.
Well that doesn’t seem desirable.
Let’s invert again – this time there are no public schools. Anywhere. It is all private schools. Can’t afford to pay tuition? Sorry your kid goes to the low cost school mill or comes to work with you for apprentice training. Are you an elementary aged child whose parents who can’t afford to feed, much less educate you? Sorry – you will never learn to read beyond a second grade level.
Well, that doesn’t seem desirable either.
Perhaps the middle road seems to make sense. A healthy mix of public, private and home schools creates a mutually beneficial ecosystem. The private schools can experiment, innovate, evolve and best practices can be adopted across all systems over time. The public schools can offer a world class low costs education for everyone no matter their financial circumstances. And they provide standardized testing to measure all schools academic performance.
Home schooling fills in the gaps. We know of one very religious family who has four kids and couldn’t afford private school so they home schooled simply so they could integrate their religion into the school day.
Sending your money and your kid or grandkid to a private school? Good for you. Your child is receiving an education that matches your values and you are funding an educational incubator. Perhaps your school, with its freedom to try different things out, will come up with an innovation that will be adopted by schools across the country. More likely the children from your school will bring their education to diversify the mental frameworks of the organizations and community.
You are right to send your child to private school if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so and are willing to make the sacrifices.
Monopolies have consistently been shown to cause complacency over time. Here in the US the Sherman Act was passed in 1890 as a “comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade.” 
By paying for private school you are funding educational experimentation. And unfettered competition. Be ok with the criticism. Listen to the unsolicited advice and harsh criticism and carefully consider it. At the end of the day you have to do what is right for your family and your community – even if it is unpopular.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Leave a Reply