Equal Opportunity: The Abolishment of Private Education


Wealthy schools such as Lakeside have 3D printers, beautiful historical buildings, and well-paid and experienced teachers.

As citizens in the United States, we have been continuously told that we live in a land of equal opportunity. We cry out about freedom, put the barrels of our guns to nations whom we believe need our help, and at night we lay our heads down on a field of hypocrisy. In our ‘Great Nation’, the gap between the rich and the poor grows at an astonishing rate. The impoverished are left to fend for themselves while the wealthy inherit the world. In nearly every area of life, money equals advantage.

If there is one thing that should be a true equalizer, beyond class or race or gender, it is education: the opportunity to rise in society and to better yourself as well as our world. In the USA we have a right to education, but we do not have equal opportunity in education. Public schools suffer from lack of funding and a lack of care. Private schools, on the other hand, have an excess of funding and boundless opportunity. Private schools are morally corrupt and promote inequality in society. In order to better ourselves and our world, we need to abolish these institutions and force our attention to public schools.

Private schools, more specifically independent private schools, have a better educational environment than public schools. In Seattle, wealthy schools such as Lakeside have 3D printers, beautiful historical buildings, and well-paid and experienced teachers. In stark contrast, students from nearby public schools complain that parts of the ceiling collapse in the middle of class. A national study states that, “about half (an estimated 54 percent) of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building features or facilities in their schools” (gao.gov). It does not only put one at an educational disadvantage to attend public school, but at an environmental disadvantage. Not only are public schools falling apart, but the ratio of students to staff is much too large. In Shorecrest, the ratio of students to staff is 20:1. In Lakeside, it is 9:1. The students in Lakeside have more one on one time with teachers; their individual education is focused on. Shorecrest students attend an overcrowded school, where class sizes can often exceed thirty students.

Ignoring the disparity in these learning environments, there is a more sinister advantage that Private School students have. Of the accepted admissions at Harvard, 10% were athletes, 12% were legacies…and 40% were from private schools (slate.com). Are private school students simply more intelligent? Enough so that they make up 40% of the accepted rates while making up 7% of the high school population? The bias of selective colleges toward private school graduates is glaringly obvious. Even if it is true that private school students are more intelligent, is that not a result of unfair privilege and facilities that most public schools lack?

The issue here is not that wealthy children have a great education, but that the rest of us do not have access to the same opportunities. It is plainly and simply unethical. One should not have an inherent advantage based on wealth. Education should not be a commodity―it should be a human right.

So… how do we better public schools and level the playing field? I have an answer, though it is one that is nearly incomprehensible to the United States. We should abolish fee-paying private schools.

The logic is this: private schools are superior because they are supported by the money from the rich. If rich children were forced to go to public schools, their parents would spend money and effort into improving the school that they were attending. The rich have enormous influence in America, so why not force them to use that influence to better public education? Bill Gates, an alumnus from Lakeside, gave his Alma Mater an exorbitant amount of money (40 million dollars). Imagine what that kind of money could do if given to our public school system. Teachers could have a salary that befitted the work they do and children from low income families could experience what real equality of opportunity looks like.

This idea has been garnered from Finland, a country that makes the USA’s education system look barbaric. One of the many great things that they have done to create a better public school system is to ban fee-paying schools. They have created laws that private schools must be state-subsidized (partially paid for by the state), banned from charging fees, and must admit all pupils in the same way as public schools (thetimes.co.uk). Essentially, they have done away with the commodification of schooling. No more is there a hierarchy with private schools at the top and public schools at the bottom, as there is in the USA. This, along with other educational reforms (for instance, no standardized tests), have led Finland to have one of the best education systems in the world.

I firmly believe that the USA should follow Finland’s footsteps. Private schools are only another instance of inequity in our country of division. We must end the disparity in education. We must end the superiority of the wealthy class, at the very least in this area of life. The commodification of education is unethical, simple as that.

We have long called ourselves harbingers of freedom. Perhaps it is time to live up to our name.