Slate Editor: Private School Parents Are Bad People, Or Something

Slate, a Washington Post-affiliated site, is known for being a cesspool of left-wing drivel.  Yet, it was the usual nonsense – with the occasional piece that slammed Obama on the lack transparency, drones, or whatever liberals thought was wrong within his administration. Now, Allison Benedikt, the managing editor for Slate‘s feminist Double X blog, has a problem with private school.  If you send your kid to private school, you’re a bad bad person.  And people wonder why feminism is other bad f-word.


In Benedikt’s August 29 post, she admits she’s not a “educational policy wonk.” She’s just “judgmental.”  Yeah, this sounds like a girl you want to bring home to mom and dad.  Yet, wait for her grand policy proposal to fix education:

It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.


Many of my (morally bankrupt) colleagues send their children to private schools. I asked them to tell me why. Here is the response that most stuck with me: “In our upper-middle-class world, it is hard not to pay for something if you can and you think it will be good for your kid.” I get it: You want an exceptional arts program and computer animation and maybe even Mandarin. You want a cohesive educational philosophy. You want creativity, not teaching to the test. You want great outdoor space and small classrooms and personal attention. You know who else wants those things? Everyone.

Whatever you think your children need—deserve—from their school experience, assume that the parents at the nearby public housing complex want the same. No, don’t just assume it. Do something about it. Send your kids to school with their kids. Use the energy you have otherwise directed at fighting to get your daughter a slot at the competitive private school to fight for more computers at the public school. Use your connections to power and money and innovation to make your local school—the one you are now sending your child to—better. Don’t just acknowledge your liberal guilt—listen to it.


So, Benedikt isn’t a fan of school choice – a typical liberal view – and calls her colleagues “morally bankrupt.”  This isn’t a policy proposal, or a call for a “moral adjustment.”  It’s a whiny rant.

Now, admittedly, I’m a product of private education, and it was great.  At the same time, emphasizing this investment in public education has its problems, which are egregiously omitted from this piece.  Additionally, I’m not even scratching the surface, but here are a few.

First, confidence in public education is abysmal.  In fact, confidence levels have reached historic lows.  There isn’t a lot of room for positive advocacy when only 29% of Americans trust the system.  Second, teachers unions incessant habit to protest for unsustainable pay and benefits raises isn’t helping the image of teachers or education.  Keep in mind, teachers only work nine months out of the year, unlike the rest of us.  Also, while the teachers are protesting, they’re not instructing their students.  Yeah, talk about a crackerjack education. Lastly, we need to talk about the family.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of the crisis.  The growing number of single mothers in America – and the erosion of the American family – has played a part in the crumbling education system.  Single mothers aren’t to blame.  After all, there are only so many hours in the day.  Yet, in 1966, the Coleman Report was released, which shattered the typical liberal equation that x amount of dollars should equal y results.

It stated that the success of a school district depended on the family structure of the respective student body.   Granted there were other factors such as the amount of television watched, how many days were missed, how much reading material was present in the home etc. but family is the key to it all. George Will noted in a lecture at Washington University in St. Louis in December of 2012 that because the family structure has dissolved – and we still don’t know why – there’s an emerging class of youngsters who don’t know their shapes or colors.  Yes, the benefits of a family dinner are quite astounding.  As Will noted, you’ll be surprised how much of an impact saying “here honey, have a round green pea” will have concerning development of your child’s skills in this area.

Regardless, the shortfalls in our system are stark. Recently, 11,000 – or 80% – of NYC’s high school seniors had to re-learn basic skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic to enter community college. So, frankly, it’s rational parents have questions about public education.

James Pethokoukis of AEI cited his colleague Michael McShane in a response post published today saying Benedikt’s piece lacked data – and logic for that matter:

Oh, by the way, do we have any data on the educational impact of helping lower-income and poor kids escape the public education monopoly? Like, say, data from the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program? Well, the US Education Department’s OSP study found the program, McShane points out, “produced $2.62 in benefits for every dollar spent on it. In other words, the return on public investment for the private-school voucher program during its early years was 162 percent.” What’s more, “The OSP increased the high-school graduation rate of students by 12 percentage points if they were lucky enough to win the annual scholarship lottery.”

One more from McShane:

It’s also a proud tradition in America (since Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925) to recognize that children are not instruments of the state. They do not exist to promote the goals of the government or the community, they (and their parents) are free to (within limits) to be educated as they best see fit.  Obviously this person has no idea about the anti-Catholicism and anti-immigrant racism that lead people to make the same argument that she is making, albeit 100 years ago.

In all, Benedikt is pyromanic in a field of straw men.  Additionally, she has called the president a bad man for sending his daughters to private school.  Within the liberal worldview, that’s so racist.





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