I am by no means criticizing the choice to provide your own child with a more expensive education. That is a rational choice, when more expensive is coupled with substantive, observable differences in what a school offers. I am criticizing the outright hypocritical argument that money wouldn’t/couldn’t possibly help public schools provide opportunities more similar to those of elite private independent day schools, when this argument is made by individuals who prefer private schools that spend double what nearby public schools spend.As always with Bruce, read the whole thing - it's worth your time. Some additional thoughts:
- WARNING! ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ONLY! I went to a very exclusive private high school in my upper-classman years. I taught for two years at a fairly exclusive K-12 school in FL. My personal observations from the experience (and if the data contradicts this, I'd love to hear about it):
- More money in tuition doesn't guarantee better teachers. While some of the teachers I had and worked with were certificated, many were not, and it showed. Being smart and well-educated does not automatically make you a good teacher.
- Money spent at exclusive schools often does not go toward resources that directly lead to better learning. My high school had a private 9-hole golf course (!).
- Small private schools often miss out on great educational opportunities that come only from larger numbers. Neither of these schools, for example, had a marching band or orchestra.
- The level of achievement of the local public schools has, I believe, a direct influence on the quality of the local private schools. FL private schools, IMHO, do not hold a candle to NJ private schools, because the suburban schools here have set the bar very high. Your private school as to be something really special if it's better than a great public high school like Chatham or Millburn. That's much easier to do in FL, where even the most exclusive suburbs have mediocre public high schools.
- It's no surprise that NJ is the only state in the area to spend more in its poor districts than its rich ones. According to Bruce's chart, it's been that way since 1997. You would think that this would be the cause of great gnashing of teeth in the 'burbs (al a Paul Mulshine), but I just don't see it; the ire has almost exclusively been directed at "greedy teachers unions." Christie has taken away nearly all state aid from the wealthy 'burbs while the Abbott districts continue to get the majority of their funding from the state, and there's been barely a peep from the cul-de-sacs.
I can't decide if this is progress or not...