Every parent is faced with a choice they must make: should one send their child to their local public school, or an alternative school, such as private or charter school? This argument is addressed throughout the film Waiting for Superman, directed and co-written by Davis Guggenheim. The question of whether a parent should send their child to public school goes even deeper than one might realize. The choice to send a child in a different direction than their district would have intended could even be a violation of ones principles, but how? Segregation between promising students and those lacking motivation, less funding to schools with higher needs students, and the likely consequence that teachers will lessen their efforts within the classroom, are all examples of how sending a child away from their public school could be a violation against one’s own moral compass.
One general trait found in the children that are sent to private schools is that they have parents that are concerned about their education and success. Although this trait isn’t only exclusive to the students that attend private schools, within a minority community, it is more common for that rule to be true. This leaves all the unmotivated students in one place, allowing them to brew in their own lack of academic drive. These kids, ranging in ages even as low as 5 or 6 and up to 17 or 18, are stuck in the public school hole of doom, impossible to dig out of without help from outside. The segregation between the more promising students in a private school, and the slacker-like students attending public school appears to be more clear than ever. With that separation comes the guilt of a parent. Without motivated students in a public school to create an environment of success, the other students will be only surrounded by fellow dead end children, which is a very unhealthy environment. For a parent to willingly encourage this segregation is potentially lethal to many kids lives, and could be considered a huge breaking of moral code.
It’s sad and ironic, but statistics have shown that schools with higher needs students (those who need more help from their teachers and struggle academically) generally receive less funding and end up with less skilled teachers. When one decides to remove their child from their districts public school, then it is just one more kid slowly increasing the “higher needs” percentage at that school. To send one’s child to a new private school, it takes away from the original public school in a way that cannot be replaced. Without the students that are naturally inclined to do well, the school becomes a place where more assistance is needed, which might end up causing the school to receive even less funding. For a parent to consider allowing their child’s original school to receive less funding, practically abandoning the students there, can definitely be considered a violation of principles.
A possible outcome of having a public school filled only with the non-motivated students is how the teachers will begin to treat their jobs. Suddenly the authorities in charge of impacting a child’s life and education seem to care a lot less. Once the teachers notice that the students in their classes don’t seem to give a second thought about what their learning, it takes a direct hit on the teachers teaching techniques. Teachers begin to make less of an effort to connect with their students and try and reach out to them in ways to inspire and educate them. If a parent were to decide to keep their student in a public school, and that student tried really hard in class, shining among the other students, then the teachers might be reminded of what their job is. It’s extremely important for a teacher to understand what their goal should be, and having that laid right out in front of them is a great way to keep the teacher motivated to not give up on the kids, whether they are from a minority neighborhood struggling, or not.
Even with the obvious benefits of sending a child to a private school, a parent is still faced with the dilemma of how their decision might impact the community. Although understandable coming from a parents point of view, only wanting the best for their child, it is still controversial once considering the facts that their choice to remove their child from public school can have an incredible negative domino effect on the entire school. The choice is a tough one, but it can be the difference between a successful future and a typical one that every other kid may have taken, and the right choice will never be truly be clear.
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