• Shawn Hosford

Outlawing Private Schools

Within the last year, Carly and I were conversing about what it might look like to outlaw private school. When she first shared her idea, I wondered why she thought it could be a worthy solution to our public education problems. The more I listened to her solution, the more intrigued I became. 

Carly’s pre-college education included three public schools and two private schools. One of the two private schools was a premier private school. She attended with Starbucks mogul Howard Shultz’s children, her peers unlocked their bedrooms with touchscreen fingerprint readers, and were ferried to and from the school in Lamborghinis.

This school gave students small classroom sizes, latin classes, and a gourmet cafeteria serving fresh croissants during advisory period. It also had a rigorous homework plan and an unmatched culture of entitlement and elitism that was not a good fit for our family. This is not to say there weren't good and kind kids attending this school. But, it is true that only the wealthy good and kind kid’s parents could afford it.

Carly’s theory is couched on those same parents taking a stake in the public education system.

When attending a lecture on the New Civil Rights Movement, I heard Megan Ming Francis speak about how far back we should look when exploring our country's civil rights movement. As she brought her lecture to a close she asked us to think about four things. The only one I remember, and have been playing with ever since, is how we imagine a new future. 

On the car ride home with a dear friend I mentioned Carly’s school reform idea. We talked about its potential impact. My friend acted as the devil’s advocate. Our conversation wound it’s way through the possibilities and pitfalls, embracing Megan’s challenge.

The next day, while still exploring, I thought about our current teachers strikes. I thought about them striking for pay raises and health care benefits, classroom safety, a five day school week, and suitable classroom supplies — some of our schools are truly uninhabitable.

I am thankful to Megan for the insightful history lesson as well as the encouragement to imagine what could be. 

If we imagined a country with no private schools, how quickly could we change our crumbling education problems? Is it possible to outlaw elitism by outlawing private education? Would our wealthy pick up and move their families? Would outlawing private education force us closer together?