• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Moral Ambiguity and School Choice

Charter schools and privilege.

October 13, 2013

This article, on whether ethical parenting is even possible in 21st-century New York, appeared in New York Magazine on October 6. When I first read about it, via this smackdown in Jezebel, I dismissed it as just more elitist claptrap, promoting the idea that your child's life will be ruined (i.e., the child won't get into an Ivy League college) if she or he starts off at the "wrong" preschool or falters anywhere along the way. Thus, the article implies,  parents are justified in lying, cheating, and pulling any necessary strings to ensure that disaster doesn't befall their darling.

As recorded here, Ben thrived in is public middle/high school, and is currently getting a great education at a public university. We believe that he will graduate with all the tools he needs to be a successful person, if "success" is defined as being comfortable in his own skin and with people from a number of different cultures and ethnic groups; and having learned both theory and practical application in the field he loves. I was feeling a bit smug, actually.

Then "my" mayoral candidate announced his intention to cap the number of charter schools in the city, and charge them rent, on the grounds that they cherry pick advantaged students and deprive regular public schools of needed resources.

Ben's wonderful middle/high school was of course a charter school. He might not have qualified for this school if he hadn't first attended a private school from preschool through fifth grade. And the spectacular music program at his charter school was what enabled him to get into the specialized program at his public university.

We didn't lie or cheat to get him into these schools, but we definitely exercised our privilege. How much "better" or more ethical are we than those New York Magazine parents? I don't think the answer is that simple.


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