The Private School Stigma (by Anna Puetz)

imagesI woke up every morning for school, just like any other kid in my neighborhood. I ate breakfast, brushed me hair and teeth, and proceeded to get dressed. However, unlike every other kid in my neighborhood, I wore a uniform instead of street clothes, and unlike every other kid, I attended a private . I went to private school from kindergarten until a recently graduated high school. The people I went to school with were not the people that lived in my neighborhood, and the rules at my school were much more strict than a public school. Because I went to private school, a stigma followed me as to what kind of person I was and who my family was because of the fact I paid to go to school. It was hard growing up and pursuing an education with people around me assuming the wealth of my family. It was hard because none of it was true, but everyone insisted on the fact that my family and my friends at school were stuck up rich kids that had been sheltered their whole life. My parents’ decision to send me to private school is not a reflection of their wealth, but rather a reflection of the kind of education and structure they thought I needed. The stigma that follows private school students is not an accurate depiction of the life those students live, and I believe my experience in private school shaped me to be the well-rounded person I am.

The public school in my neighborhood and the neighborhoods around me did not provide the structure, environment, and knowledge necessary for my growth as a l. The problem with the public school system is it is a lot bigger, which as a result does not provide students the necessary outlets and special attention developing children deserve. Parents who choose to send their children to private schools do it for the attention and higher level education teachers provide their students, and the close-knit community that reaches beyond the scope of the classroom. My neighbors who were not apart of the community assumed that the people I chose to surround myself with only cared about money and their status. Because I had to balance between my neighborhood life and school life, I also had to balance the assumptions and beliefs my neighborhood friends had for the friends I made at school. Their perception of my friends at school was very negative, and as a result, reflected badly on me as well. The hard thing about assumptions though is that they are made for no reason, or from past experiences, never the situation at hand. I felt powerless in trying to change their thoughts on what a private education and the community really

The truth is the community I was introduced to through my education helped me to grow in all aspects of my life: academically, socially, physically, intellectually, and most importantly, spiritually. The values of the school were based on religion, and while not everyone that attended the school was religious, there were times the community came together to celebrate the importance of a community bound by a common belief, religion. Because of this common bond, the strength and intimacy of my school community was a place I felt safe growing up, and I cannot say the same for some kids in my neighborhood. Going to private school was not about the price of an education, but rather an investment in my growth and development into a young

Not everyone can attend private school because not everyone can afford to pay for schooling when there is a free option available, which can be seen as the real problem behind the stigma of private school students and families. Something about the idea of more privileged families paying for an amenity that could be free gives people the wrong idea about the character of that family. Of course, there are people in the private school world that care more about money than one should, but there are also great, genuine people who just care for their children’s education and development. While some families pay for their children to get a better education and others have to settle for a bigger, less focused form of education, those that attend a better institution tend to get better paying jobs and the latter families tend to stay in the more blue-collar niches. Therefore, the wealth gap citizens are so concerned about keeps widening as a result of the education gap between public and private schools. Society should not only work to fix the stereotype of private school students and their families, but rather work to change the public school system so that all children can get the same attention and knowledge they need to grow up and make a life for himself/herself.

Because of the assumptions I faced as a kid and still today as a result of attending a private school, I have learned to look past first impressions and reputations. Where I went to grade school and then high school taught me to become a better person in all aspects, which is something that has no price tag because I am proud of the person I have become as a result of the community I was apart of. Despite the remarks, looks, and assumptions I received from others, I learned to work harder to overcome those obstacles and show people who I really am and not let others’ perception of me define me. I have also learned that the price tag for a work while education in this day in age has handicapped those attending public schools to the point where it seems the gap between blue-collar and white-collar is a result of the education students receives in their developmental years. It is a problem that lies in the education system as well as society, where private school students are looked down upon for their choice to treat themselves to a better education simply because they have the money to do so. The problem with the education system is the gap between the calibers of a public school and private school, and if society works to bridge that gap, the stigma behind students who attend private schools will be alleviated and just a memory.


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