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In Defense Of Allison Benedikt
A couple of days ago I suggested that Allison Benedikt's much-denounced manifesto "If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person" was tendentious but understandable. In many gentrifying neighborhoods, the public schools would become a lot better if, say, the lower half of private school families in wealth all switched to public schools, which would benefit the upper layer of current public school families by providing their children with better classmates.
Here's a previous article by Benedikt that lays out her family and financial situations.
With a third kid on the way and a 1,100 square foot, one-bathroom Brooklyn apartment, my husband and I talk a lot about when we’ll be able to afford a home to comfortably fit our family. I’m 35, he’s almost 40, and neither of us thinks we can even begin to contemplate shelling out for a mortgage or higher rent for another five years. In the fall of 2018, all of our kids will finally be in public school, and we will have the $5,000 we pay in child care every month back in our bank account. I will be 41, my husband will be 46, and perhaps then we can start to consider a second toilet.
Not all of that $5K will go toward a family home—to pay for preschool, we stopped contributing to our 401K years ago. So 2018 will also be the year we start paying into it again—not that we will ever be able to retire—and, hey, let’s put some away for college, shall we?
Let me just stop you mid-eye-roll to confirm that yes: We are, by the standards of most Americans, rich. My husband and I both have steady jobs, make good salaries, and are lucky enough to be able to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world simply because we want to. As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan wrote earlier this year, we can’t cry poor just because we don’t have a lot of money left after we’ve spent it all.
Here is the couple's New York Times wedding announcement from 2003. I would guess they just barely made the cut for making the NYT.
Having multiple children is a lot more affordable if you can find public schools with tolerable demographics, so it's perfectly understandable to try to shame other desirable demographics into public schools.
But, why the white v. white shaming language instead of the language of mutual self-interest?
It's not uncommon in Southern California to see Chinese get together and pick out a small school district to take over and remake to meet their needs. Arcadia, east of Pasadena, where my cousins went to school, is an example: a nice but nondescript suburb where the high school is now 69% Asian. Asians hate paying for private schools when they could instead take over a public school by concentrating their forces to avoid being diluted. I've never read the inside story on how the Chinese coordinate this process -- why Arcadia rather than all the similar suburbs? -- but a fly on the wall would probably hear some frank statements about whites, blacks, and Mexicans.
In contrast, white people are more likely to run than to work together the way the Chinese do. To get white people to work together, they need some kind of ideological cover story, like ... uh ... diversity! We should all agree to stop paying private school tuition and send our kids to public school in the name of diversity!
Moreover, while Asian people can work together to take over Arcadia out of conscious racial self-interest, white people can only be publicly motivated to work together out of stated animus toward other white people. For example, disarming urban blacks and Latinos can be justified only as a byproduct of the War of Liberal Self-Defense Against Armed Racist Rednecks, and so forth.
Similarly, the upper level of whites with children in public schools very much want whites with children in private schools to join forces with them, but ... blunt Chinese-like statements like "We need to team up to keep our kids from being overwhelmed by all the Mexicans" are nonstarters.
Thus, among whites, everybody denounces everybody else all the time.