By | April 28, 2016

I work in a well-compensated industry.

Associated with that, I’ve noticed that nearly all of my co-workers send their children to private schools, even though the public schools in this area are pretty good from what I’ve heard.

Most of the people I work with are pretty liberal — this isn’t some conservative withdrawal from the public sphere to avoid mixing with “undesirables.” In fact, the people I work with are liberal enough that the anti-LGBT North Carolina law is frequently made fun of over the cubicle tops. (One joke today: “We’ve stationed a doctor at the bathrooms to check your genitals before you can pee. Please place both feet in the stirrups before even considering urination.”)

Despite all that, public schools are seen as harmful, disreputable places that no one who would allow their children to attend if they could afford the tuition fees to avoid that ghastly fate.

While there have always been private schools, what a massive change in my lifetime — when I was young, a private school (even outside of my relatively-impoverished area) was seen as something only the rich would want any part of. Sending kids to a public school was a way of integrating them into broader society, of socializing them into the world in which they would be living.

Now anyone who can remotely afford it sends their kids to private schools, while public schools are in a death spiral of decreasing attendance and then reduced funding therefrom. And of course that we are driving the best teachers right out of the profession.

No real conclusion — just an observation that we’ve rejected the idea of a shared polity, tossed in the rubbish bin the notion that we’re all in this together, and that this is reflected and self-reinforcing now in every arena of society. It’s not a liberal or conservative tendency, but rather a general propensity whose expression differs across the spectrum of both communities.