Monday, November 3rd, 2008It's those last 2 bold points that crack me up.
Dear Private School Parents
By Dennis Danziger
Dear Private School Parents:
With the collapse of our country’s financial institutions, many of you will be looking for ways to cut back on the family budget while still hanging onto your home and the family pet.
Some cutbacks are obvious. Put off your dentist appointments indefinitely. Work things out around the kitchen table rather than spending $200 a pop on family counseling. And you may want to consider sacrificing HBO, your cleaning lady, organic goat cheese, the leased BMW and Xmas in Tonga till our government works things out.
But cutting back on small items won’t keep your standard of living at the level to which you’ve grown accustomed. You’ve got two, maybe 2.5 kids, in private schools that are milking you for say $7,000 - $10,000 a year for religious schools, up to $27,000 a year for secular schools.
You can’t afford to charge next semester’s tuitions to your credit card. So come mid-term, next fall at the latest, say good-bye to shaving cream art classes, field trips to Sedona, and paying Desmond Tutu to speak at commencement. Buckle your kids in the SUV, roll up the windows, lock the doors, play a calming rain forest CD and drive to your local public school to enroll your kids.
I know. I know. It would be easier to sacrifice a kidney for a distant cousin. But what choice do you have?
A) You don’t know squat about calculus or where the semi-colons go
B) You love your kids, but hanging with them all day? Please.
Warning. Since you and the previous generations of well off Americans fled the public school system shortly after court ordered busing became the law of the land, changes have occurred, and you and your kids need to be prepared. So take it from a 15-year veteran:
Class Size – your kids are accustomed to 10 – 15 students per class. In some public schools, that many kids share a locker. The only way your kid will sit in a class with fewer than 35 students is if she’s taking fourth year Mandarin.
Think 35– 42 students per class. Imagine your child is one of 40 in Spanish 1A and the class runs 60 minutes. By the time the teacher asks each student for her homework, time’s up, class is over. If you want your kids to learn Spanish, either send her to Tijuana with a church group that builds houses for the poor or send her home every weekend with your housekeeper, if you can still afford one.
Athletics – if your child played football or basketball at his previous school – let’s hope he cherishes the memories. Public schools have many tall, powerful kids known as African-Americans. They get the uniforms. Occasionally, an Asian point guard or a Latino linebacker will crack the color barrier. If your kid insists on being part of the football or basketball team, he should focus on scorekeeping or wrapping ankles. However, some suburban schools have added water polo and lacrosse teams so the formerly well-to-do white kids can make the team and pretend they’re athletes.
Lunch – if you pack your child a nutritious meal, it’ll probably be stolen. Stick to power bars and dried fruit, things that are flat, can be hidden inside your child’s pocket and can be eaten while your kid is running from a pack of school bullies.
School Violence – it exists. Instruct your child to sit as far from the windows as possible in case of a drive-by or a lock down. Plus, that way she’ll be sitting closer to the teacher. It’s a win-win.
Teachers – are underpaid and overwhelmed. If you call a teacher in early October and she returns your call by the time your child graduates – that’s a good teacher.
Also, public school teachers can’t be bought off with the usual private school teacher gifts - a case of fine wine, a $200 gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret, a weekend at your winter home in Sun Valley. Yet most will gladly change your child’s grade for a bottle of anti-depressants or a fat bag of weed.
Administrators – they respond only to subpoenas.
So, welcome back and maybe if for the next four or five decades, enough middle and upper-middle class families return to public schools and embrace them, our public schools may once again become the slightly above-average institutions they were in the 50s and 60s.
A Veteran Teacher