Profiles in Education: The Smith Family

Mr. D and Mrs. R Smith are Californians working hard and doing their best to raise their young son and daughter. DS was raised with both public and private schooling, and RS completed all of her schooling through the public school system. When the time came to send their own children to school, however, they saw that the school situation was far from sunny and were concerned the public options wouldn’t meet their child’s needs. They decided that they would have to send their children to private schools. 

With both the Smiths being relatively successful as well as being educated in the public school system, some asked why the switch? Because, as DS said, “our local schools (LAUSD) are now by and large, terrible;  academically, socially and spiritually. What they teach the kids is often in conflict with what we teach ours. Test scores are low. They also tend to be more violent. The list goes on and on.”

Knowing that it was important for their children to be raised with certain values, and that these values can be undermined in public education, they chose a private Christian school for their son. Once their daughter was old enough to attend school, she joined her brother there. While Christian values were certainly part of the equation, these were not the only values of concern to the Smith family. They had seen that the local public schools were “anti-Christian, sometimes overtly so. That’s not to say every teacher is, but, it only takes one. Curriculum, too, is not friendly to the Christian faith. Also, they are often anti-American, anti-capitalist and constitutionally ignorant.” RS added “I feel comfortable leaving my children at their school. I believe their teachers are good people who will teach them good things, and protect them if necessary. I worked in the public schools for a couple of years, and while the teachers I worked with would undoubtedly have physically protected those kids, their views couldn’t help but seep into their teaching.”

With few other options, the Smiths felt that they had no choice but to pay $1,200 a month in tuition (just over $7,000 per child per year) to ensure a better education for their kids. On top of that, they must pay for things like registration, uniforms, field trips, and school supplies. This is on top of the money that they pay through local, city and state taxes directed to education, as well as property taxes for a school system they neither use nor meets the needs of their children.  While the figure of $7,000 per child for private school may seem like a lot, it is still lower than the average cost that California spends per year per public school; which is $7,570.

Like so many families, the Smiths have had to sacrifice to do what’s best for their kids. Their home needs work that goes undone, DS works overtime, and RS has rejoined the workforce after it became mathematically impossible for her to be a stay at home mom. The family used to enjoy an annual vacation, but they are now taken every other year. These are the sacrifices which have to be made to pay the tuition for two children in private school. Is it worth it? DS says it absolutely is. “There’s no doubt we’d do it again. They’re doing great; happy, well adjusted and getting good grades.  If we absolutely couldn’t afford it, then they’d be home schooled.”

California has limited options for school choice, and the options that exist are all for public schools. Imagine what tax credits or scholarships could do for families like the Smiths, and it would not cost the state anything more. This is a perfect case for why the money should follow the child. Come on, California, give parents more options.