Sunday, June 04, 2006

Public School Believers Send Children to Private School

A recent San Francisco Chronicle series reported on the K12 educational scene on the peninsula. This article out of the series discussed the agony of parents feeling forced against their will to send their own children to private schools. Oh the humanity. (/droll)

Mark Lauden Crosley describes himself as a "passionate believer" in public education.

The 54-year-old homeowner in San Francisco's Castro district believes it's critical that children of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds be educated together. The software designer said he has never voted against any education measure in his life.

But, he said, he believes that even the city's best public schools are overcrowded and underfunded. And despite his belief in the importance of public education, he must do what's best for his three daughters -- so he sends them to private schools.

"There's very little in life that's as important to me as my kids' education. It's a sacrifice you make, and it pays off," he said, noting he nonetheless has nagging concerns that his daughters aren't experiencing diversity in their classrooms. "I don't want my kids in an elite, privileged environment where they don't spend time with people who are different from them. ... But that's the reality, and it bothers me."

His twin eighth-graders, Andrea and Danica, go to Katherine Delmar Burke School near Lincoln Park. He sends sophomore Elinor to the Urban School of San Francisco in the Haight.

Crosley and his wife, Claudia Stern, a financial consultant, get some tuition assistance to cover the total bill of about $70,000 a year. But they still must funnel all of their discretionary income into education -- so no fancy vacations, few movie nights, and no dinners out. Despite the belt-tightening, they're convinced they've made the right choice.

Crosley isn't alone in feeling uncomfortable about private schools while choosing them anyway. In San Francisco, families choose private and religious schools in higher proportion than in any other major city in the country.

Last year, 29.3 percent of the city's school-age population went to private or religious schools. About 10 percent of children nationwide and 8.7 percent of those in California attend private or parochial schools. Marin County has the second-highest rate in the state at 18.7 percent, followed by San Mateo at 15.4 percent and Napa at 13.4 percent.

San Francisco families had 107 private and parochial schools to choose from last year, about the same number as public ones. But those choices have narrowed since about 20 years ago, when there were 144 private and religious schools in the city.

Both private and public schools in San Francisco have seen declining enrollment over the past decades. Since 1982, private and religious schools have lost 10 percent of their enrollment, and public schools have lost 5.5 percent. In 1982, San Francisco private schools enrolled 27,190 students; last year, they enrolled 24,398 students.

....Families cite a variety of reasons for going the private-school route. Some say they resent that the school district's lottery system does not guarantee them the right to attend the public school of their choice, especially one in their own neighborhood. (The vast majority of families do get one of their top seven public school choices.)

Other families choose private schools because they want a particular program or feature -- such as an emphasis on French or Mandarin, a religious focus or single-sex education. Others say their children will simply receive a better education in private schools, featuring smaller classes, more resources and more attention for their children as opposed to public school teachers having to focus on students who are far behind.

"The best private school is, in my opinion, better than the best public school anywhere," said Pamela Singer, whose daughter, May, attends Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary. "When you take a group of people who have money and they just pour money into this school, and they're already like-minded because they've chosen to join this club together, it's just going to be elevated."

Other parents told The Chronicle they don't want their children to be around students who wear "saggy pants" or who "curse on Muni" or who may be "rotten apples." A few said they can see big differences between public school students and private school students just by watching them walk in and out of their respective schools.
Much more at the source.

Hat tip Steve Sailer.

Read the entire story from the above link. You gain an appreciation for how important "the spin" is in any news story, even one purportedly reporting the facts. There has never been a large city or country in the history of the world, where the elites willingly chose to have their children at the mercy of the children of the lower classes. In San Francisco, parents choosing to send their children to the best schools they can afford simply have to be portrayed by the media as elitist fascist pigs. And as if feeling he had to explain this "anomalous" separatism, the admissions director of the mostly asian school felt compelled to say "this is america, what can you do?" This is america, where immigrants particularly send their children to private schools if they can. Yes, of course, everyone should know that america is like that.

A lot of good, hard working people sacrifice deeply to send their children to a school where they feel the children will be safe, and well educated. Any media culture that would portray such people as closed minded, and bigoted, regardless of the parents' occupation, income, race, religion, or disposition--is itself bigoted and closed minded. But we knew that about the media culture already.

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