Private School Tuition Is My Albatross

My kids are in a private school.

My kids aren’t in private school because I believe so deeply in a tiered education system, or because I think they’re too gifted/talented/smart/special to be in school with the general population. We actually bought our home in part for the local school. My children are in private school because The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is a colossal failure. We didn’t opt for private school when we found out that there was no art education or PE, we knew there would be none of that, but we also knew that we’d be able to afford to supplement those activities.

We put our son in private school when his kindergarten teacher refused to help him clean his glasses after lunch without an IEP. An IEP is an Individual Education Plan, and it’s available to children with special needs. I understand that technically wearing glasses is a special need. I simply could not start my son’s academic career with with a teacher who didn’t feel like she was on his team.

After moving both kids to private school I realized that they really do deserve it. The classrooms are spectacular, and it’s nice that they have brand new computers and smart boards, but they have something even richer. My kids have amazing teachers who love learning, teaching and who revere and respect childhood. My kids also have a peer group that will elevate them. Everything else is truly a bonus.

I try to keep this in mind when as my husband travels the world, and asks why we don’t take European vacations with the kids. “They go to private school.” I reply. He doesn’t seem to understand it, as his trips are planned by his assistant at work or by me at home. We don’t have $15,000 for a family of four to have a nice time in Milan or in London. I guess we would if we lived more modestly in other ways, but the big expense is school.

I try to not resent it, and for the most part I’m grateful that my children were accepted there. Sometimes I look at the quality of their work and just pinch myself. I went to Chadwick, my husband went to a school of the same caliber, we both understand the import of rigor, and that a good education is the one and only gift we can give our children that no one can take away. Ever.

Still, I feel a little overwhelmed when I see other families who don’t pay for school, and seem to have a lot more expendable income. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being jealous, but I know this is the right thing for our kids.

This post was inspired in part by this expose by the LA Weekly.

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