Sunday, December 16, 2007

Education is Not a Luxury Good

In an attempt to encourage private school parents in the U.K. not to feel embarrassed about their educational choice, Vicky Tuck, the incoming president of the Girls School Association has compared it to a luxury good:

"We are not embarrassed by paying a decent sum for a nice house or a nice jacket or a nice engagement ring. Yet if you decide to spend your earnings on the most valuable thing you can do - to give your children an education - you are damned for doing so."
I can see the point she is trying to make, and I agree with the sentiment that providing one's children with the best education available is a worthwhile investment. Yet Mrs. Tuck is playing right into those critics who view private schools as elitist and a status symbol for the wealthy.

For most families, a private school education is not like an Armani jacket, Tiffany ring, or villa in the Caribbean. Sure, there are some social-climbing individuals who care more about the perceived cache of the school than whether it's the right "fit" for their children. But most parents are just concerned about what's best for their kids. They look at the serious problems in their local government-run schools and want something better for their sons and daughters.

A private school education is IMHO more like starting a business- it's an investment in the future. Hopefully, the value of one's education will continue to appreciate as time goes on, unlike consumer goods that depreciate the moment one brings the item home.

Private school parents should not be ashamed of spending their hard-earned money on their children's education, but Mrs. Tuck's idiotic comment is likely to make them feel even greater embarrassment.

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