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Do Parents Have a Moral Obligation to Send Their Kids to Local Public Schools?

The recent controversy over school closures brought out a lot of issues about public schools in San Bruno. Some parents said they would rather send their kids to private schools. Is that right?

It’s the end of April when many soon-to-be kindergarten parents have already made their school choice for this fall.

For many, deciding between public and private school for their child was a big part of the grueling process, and a political one, too. A recent story on parenting site Babble.com has left some Peninsula parents still wondering about their school choice, bringing up questions like:

  • Is it a moral obligation as a parent to send your kids to public schools?
  • Is being a part of the public system really going to fix it?
  • Will I sacrifice my child’s education to be the one to make things better at the local public school?
  • Will a private school be socially and economically diverse enough to help my child grow to be a well-rounded world citizen?

In the post, the author explained why she’s sending her kids to public school despite the public system’s flaws such as budget cuts, large class sizes, minimal resources to support the influx of English Language Learners, and the standardized testing of the No Child Left Behind mandates, which are intended to narrow the achievement gap but has subjected children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills instead.

The author said she’s making the choice “to be a part of the greater system, hoping to see a trend of more families with the time and means to invest in public schools actually doing so—because if we don’t take the time to make quality public education a possibility for all children, who will?”

The moral obligation idea is altruistic and lovely in its concept of personal sacrifice for the collective common good—that we have a moral obligation to educate all children—not just our own. But is supporting a public institution, which for some parents has failed to impress them, at the cost of their children's education beyond the call of duty?

Here at San Bruno Patch, we want to hear from you about this.

We know parents want a quality education for children, and many private and public school parents would both agree that there is a great and pressing need to invest in the public school system.

But why do some parents opt out and choose a private school? Are those parents “immoral” or un-politically correct for not sending their children to the local public school? Is going to a private school instead of the local public school a disservice to the community? Do parents have a moral obligation to send their kids to the local public school?

This issue is especially relevant because of the  in the San Bruno Park School District.

Let us know what you think.

Edwin S April 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM
At the last Board meeting there was someone who recommended that the topic of school closure be off the table for a few years (I'd have to watch the broadcast again for more details). I believe they presented this idea at the end of the meeting when most people had left. They said it would help with passing of a bond - and suggested the Board vote on that item ..... the Board just ignored his/her idea.
Chris Kiely May 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Edwin: the Board used to interview parents about transfering out. When we did that, we reduced the outflow, and had the net negative (including old transfers) down to 95 kids in 05-06. They now encourage people to leave, and don't want anyone coming in. The net negative is now over 215. We could use those extra 120 kids.
Heidi Beck May 03, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Chris, but with the district being Basic Aid now, isn't it to the district's advantage to have fewer kids? One pie divided among fewer students ... It was different under revenue limit when the money was based on attendance -- then the district wanted more students because each one brought in dollars.
Chris Kiely May 03, 2012 at 07:09 PM
If we were Woodside or Portola Valley, and had been Basic Aid for decades, and were millions of dollars to the plus, maybe. If those 120 kids were here, we'd be revenue limit, and getting more $$ from the State than we have now. Plus, we wouldn't be subject to the "fair share" provisions that are taking away class-size reduction , GATE, etc. In addition, right now, the State is only funding 80% of the real revenue limit. When it gets back to as little as 85%, we aren't Basic Aid anymore.
Heidi Beck May 04, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Chris, if this doesn't prove California needs to reform the way it funds public education ...

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