Drinking With the Trailer Park Crowd Doesn't Make You a Better Person

But you wouldn’t know that from Allison Benedikt’s “blame and shame” piece on why people who send their kids to private school are bad people:

Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me. In fact it’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.

That remark, IMHO, exemplifies the core problem with our elites and their idea: the #1 experience in life is to party.  Not to be really educated or informed or how to think, but to party.  That idea, more than anything else, is why we are in serious trouble these days.

And it never occurs to Ms. Benedikt that, while the rich kid of her dreams parties with the trailer park crowd, the rich kid is far more able to cushion the downside of their habit by throwing money at the results than his or her friends, who are far more likely to do time or die as a result of their alcohol–or worse–habits.

It’s hard to tell in this country, but the purpose of public education is to provide free, universal education to the country’s children.  Her obsession with “contributing” to public schools is misplaced: that’s what taxes are for.  As it stands, public schools are fee-collecting institutions, and that hits hardest at the bottom.  Those that don’t go leave money on the table for others, but public schools haven’t made very good use of the surplus.

And that leads to the basic problem of public education, the values issue laid aside: the operation of the system is too much in thrall of those who economically benefit from its expenditures and not those to whom the service is provided.  Private schools should, in an ideal world, keep the public schools honest by providing competition, albeit on an unlevel playing field.  But public schools are loathe to respond to such competition.

A different and excellent response to this article comes from Anne Carlson Kennedy, who is known for perseverance throughout the Anglican/Episcopal world, here and here.

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