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Do Parents Have a Moral Obligation to Send Their Kids to the Local Public School?

Take the poll and leave your comments.

It’s the end of April when many soon-to-be Kindergarten parents have already made their school choice for this fall.

For many, deciding between public and private school, and even , for their child was a big part of the grueling process, and a political one, too. A recent article on www.babble.com by Rhiana Maidenberg has left some Redwood City parents still wondering about their school choice, bringing up questions like:

• Is it a moral obligation as a parent to send your kids to public school?

• Is being a part of the public system really going to fix it?

• Will I sacrifice my child’s education to be the one to make things better at the local public school?

• Will the private school be socially and economically diverse enough to help my child grow to be a well-rounded world citizen?

In the article Maidenberg explains why she’s sending her kids to public school despite the public system’s flaws such as budget cuts, large class sizes, minimal resources to support the influx of English Language Learners, and the standardized testing of the No Child Left Behind mandates, which are intended to narrow the achievement gap but has subjected children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills instead.

Maidenberg says she’s making the choice “to be a part of the greater system, hoping to see a trend of more families with the time and means to invest in public schools actually doing so — because if we don’t take the time to make quality public education a possibility for all children, who will?”

The moral obligation idea is altruistic and lovely in its concept of personal sacrifice for the collective common good — that we have a moral obligation to educate all children — not just our own. But is supporting a public institution, which for some parents has failed to impress them, at the cost of their children's education beyond the call of duty?

Here at Redwood City Patch, we want to hear from you about this.

We know parents want a quality education for children, and many private and public school parents would both agree that there is a great and pressing need to invest in the public school system.

But why do some parents opt out and choose a private school? Are those parents “immoral” or un-politically correct for not sending their children to the local public school? Is going to a private school instead of the local public school a disservice to the community? Do parents have a moral obligation to send their kids to the local public school?

Please take the poll below and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Jack Hickey April 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Parents primary responsibility is to feed, clothe and shelter their family. That includes "feeding " their minds. Choice should be the operative. Compusory attendance laws are anethema to a free society. Milton Friedman, in his letter endorsing my Performance Voucher Initiative in 1979 said it right: "The ultimately correct solution, for which I would hope any voucher scheme--mine or yours--would pave the way, would be the reduction of the state role simply to providing financial assistance to the small minority of children whose parents (even when relieved of present taxes to finance schooling) could not themselves finance their children's schooling." http://users.cwnet.com/jackhick/mfltr.htm The government schooling monopoly held hostage by Unions is the problem.
Mixie Poppinsnapper April 28, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Our family chose public school, and here's what's happening. The kid is getting a great education from skilled,intelligent, and compassionate teachers at Henry Ford Elementary. For free.
Buck Shaw April 28, 2012 at 04:02 PM
The question you pose is slanted by the qualifying statement after a simple "yes or no" answer is requested. I think you should have made two seperate questions. Rather than one. As the Moral obligation to educate all children slants the answer twoards a yes. When what your trying to do is justify public school. I can gather from the poll so far the Parcel Tax issue is heading strait down.
Jack Hickey April 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Your choice, but it doesn't work for everyone. Free? For your family maybe, but it costs taxpayers more than $10,000/year. Most families could secure a superior, safer and more morally acceptable education for their children with half that amount.
Jack Hickey April 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
One thing which Milton left out is the financing of education by philanthropic organizations which, if allowed to function without competition from tax funded pseudo philanthropic government agencies such as the Sequoia Healthcare District on whose Board I serve, might obviate the need for a "state" role in education financing.
Donna Holm April 29, 2012 at 07:27 AM
The poll questions were unfair, in that both are true. No one is morally obliged to subject their child to a bad education. But we are all obliged as members of a community to ensure a good and equal education for all children. The sticking point comes in how this is accomplished. I am a great believer in public schools, and I have seen incredible programs in private schools. My main idea is that the public schools need parents who are passionate, interested and energetic.Parent volunteers who become classroom aides, yard duties, and fund-raisers, who drive for field trips and work on book fairs and sell tamales, who attend board meetings and committee meetings and coffee mornings with the principal -- these are the parents who help ensure a better education for every child.If even half of the families who send their children to private schools instead sent their children to public school and gave half of the tuition to the school, they would get a bargain and see a miracle. If half of the families who home-school sent their children to public school and gave half of the time they would have spent on lesson planning and teaching to the school, they would get some rest and see a miracle. Sure, send your kids away if you are concerned, but if you are that concerned, then you ARE morally required to get involved in your local public school, volunteer, and pay when asked!
Buck Shaw April 29, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Wow! I sure see it a different way. 1. There is no moral obligation to attend public school. 2. Most people vote with there feet. Thats what is happening. 3. I feel the political teachings in public school have moved far away from a neutral point of view. 4. School boards are made up of teachers not parents. This greatly influences pro teacher curriculum, in class politics, salaries and union influnce on the teachers and students. 5. I strongly disagree that just throwing money at the problem will solve it. As you suggest.
Jack Hickey April 29, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Where parents have a real choice, participation is much more likely. The current tax system severely limits a family's financial ability to choose alternatives. More than $10,000/year in taxes goes to the education of one child. Most families could secure a superior, safer and more morally acceptable education for their children with half that amount.
John Foley April 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Anyone who sends their child to a RCSD public school is naive. The inhouse suspensions were created to hide the reporting of behavior problems in classes. Pandemonium is the standard in many classrooms. The parcel tax will NOT fix this---money is not the issue--change the "leadership on Bradford" then ask for more $.
John Foley April 30, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Sidebar---why do most politicians--especially dems like Obama and Pelosi--sent their kids to the most expensive PRIVATE schools? LOL!!!!
Jennifer D'Amico Bugarini April 30, 2012 at 04:10 PM
This is way more complicated than just a "yes" or "no" answer. This is something my husband and I had to recently consider when enrolling our son into a Kindergarten for the fall. While we (my husband and I) grew up and now work in Redwood City, we live in Newark, and unfortunately after researching it we found that their elementary school system is terrible. We just couldn't justify putting him in the local school. We would have loved to believe me, it would have saved us a lot of money for one thing. But there was no way I was going to sacrifice my son's education in hopes that the school would get better. And honestly is it my responsibility as a parent to try and fix the system?
Buck Shaw April 30, 2012 at 07:37 PM
School Boards. Teachers. All you people who think the schools are great. Are you listening to this dialog. Don't you get it. Thats why we're 25th in the world. If you like the way Japans schools turn out students. Then be like there schools. You refuse to accept disipline. Refuse to accept responsibility. Little Johnny cheats he's out. Thats it OUT. Don't pass go, don't collect $200, and don't sue the school dad your son is a bigger man than you are.
Judi Mathers April 30, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Dear Jennifer....most public school teachers send their own children to private! Mr. Foley's second comment hits the mark. In Redwood City, some of the best teachers have left. There is absolutely no respect for those who teach the kids to think....or have creative lessons. The poorer teachers are jealous and often "tell" on the popular excellent ones...so sad and puerile. You are your child's primary educator....please do NOT use the public schools of Newark or Redwood City!
Maria March 24, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Henry Ford is a gret school!! I realy wish that this school have middle school too!
Maria March 24, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Thanks for your comments :)

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