I am hesitant to write a response to the recent Slate.com article, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person,” for a few reasons. First, it is entirely possible that the article was meant to be satirical. If this is the case, the author is quite poor at writing satire. The satire of the article is absolutely unclear, and statements such as the one below exacerbate the lack of clarity.
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.
Second, it seems the author, Allison Benedikt—a managing editor at Slate—wrote the article as provocatively as possible, with the possible intention of trying to draw as many readers—through the controversy that would arise—as she could. How many hits the article has received, I do not know, but it has over 5,000 comments, over 4,500 Facebook shares, and more than 2,000 tweets, not to mention the 38,000+ Facebook likes. If that was her goal, I would hate to aid her in it.
Third, it is entirely possible, I believe, that one could read something so poorly written and so poorly argued—from the perspective of sound logic and reasoning—that you could actually become dumber. This article may just fall into that category.
I think I can safely summarize the piece in this way, without falling into the straw man fallacy: Public schools are not consistently providing quality education, but if everyone would just commit to sending their children to poor schools for the next three generations—each one taking one for the team—then the schools would improve and we would have quality education for all.
The logic is simply laughable. Would one argue that if everyone would eat at McDonald’s, within three generations McDonald’s would be healthier? It implies, somehow, that adding good to bad, clean to dirty, or quality to cheap, necessarily improves the lesser by the addition of the better. Who among us would think to take a glass of clean water and add it to a glass of dirty water, then determine that the dirty water is okay to drink because it has been made clean by the clean water? It may improve averages, temporarily, but it does not make the bad good, the dirty clean, the cheap quality. This, of course, is Paul’s primary admonition against Christians unequally yoking themselves to unbelievers. Be not deceived.
Of course, her logic is—to some extent—internally consistent with the view that our children belong to the community. Remember these comments from Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor from Tulane, on MSNBC?
Our children are our responsibility. It is we who will stand before our children, our community, and God as responsible for their upbringing. God puts us into community that we might bear one another’s burdens, not so the community, or State, might own them. The problem with public education goes much deeper than the handful of students out there who are not participating in it.
Do not read the Slate.com article. Just be aware of the lengths people will go to in order to take ownership of your children. It begins with guilt trips, name-calling, and moral judgments against your character. Where it ends, I do not yet know.