Sometimes, it’s just so aggravating. I mean here I am just munching a piece of b-day cake at the party of a neighbor (their daughter just turned 4; my daughter is 4, and on a Sunday this all adds up to daddy asking for a corner piece with extra frosting, damn the torpedoes!) when someone mentions that I happen to have my finger in the world of public education and know a bit about policy and blah, blah, blah.
I mean I don’t really want to talk shop – in truth, I’m trying to take a day off from talking shop and the biggest concern on my plate at the time is whether to refill my plate with another mound of calories – but then the other moms and dads start swirling around, concerned about the well being of their own kids, highly concerned for the state of their local schools. Like bees to honey in a way.
So I put down my fork (gluttony rarely reflects well but damn, did I mention goin’ for a second corner piece – I mean the gloves were OFF right then) and do my best to present a professional demeanor and speak without cake spittle shooting off my tongue.
That’s when th term “public/private” gets thrown at me. As in a dad telling me his kids attend a “public/private” school.
“Uhm, what’s that?” I ask.
Public/private, he explains, is a school where all of the parents kick in $1,000 per family per child to “supplement” all the things they want the public school to have that the state used to pay for but doesn’t any more.
Like it pays for a science teacher who does labs, a PE teacher, a music teacher, an art teacher and so on. Plus, a full time librarian.
And they have auctions, too, at this public/private school where all the parents overbid at events like the Halloween Spooktacular where pumpkins get sold for $100 each and stuff like that.
Just crushed my Sunday. I mean this was a local elementary school in a middle class section of Los Angeles we were talking about. And for middle school, all of the parents were convinced that they were gonna have to try and figure out a way to pay for (and get their kids into) a private school. Unity was fine for elementary but for middle school, their sense was, well…
The elementary school, the community figured, could be saved with sticky tape, glue and gum and parent supplemental cash. The middle and high school? They all seemed to think that it was just a grenade waiting to explode in their lives once their kids were old enough to matriculate.
This is what is going on out there today. No spin. No hyperbole. This is the reality for today’s parents. And if you think about the parents who can’t afford the $1,000 per kid to supplement the public/private option, WHOA NELLY!!
(Note: I asked what happens to families that don’t pay. I mean it’s a public school – the community kids are allowed to attend, right? “Yes, they are,” I was told. But the public pressure and the dirty look I got for even suggesting that someone would not figure out a way to come up with the money let me clearly know that this was like the Godfather asking for a favor – it was a request the parents just could not refuse.)
Hello? The phone is ringing? Is anyone there?