I am quite convinced that many of the policy makers who choose elite private schools for their own and advocate for scaling back the public system, really don’t understand the difference. They really don’t know that their private schools outspend nearby traditional public schools – by a lot – despite serving more advantaged student populations. Heck, I’ve talked to administrators in private independent schools who feel that their own budgets are tight (legitimately so), and assume that the public schools around them spend much more per child. But they are simply naïve in this regard (while wise in many other ways). No intent to harm. They’ve simply bought into the misguided rhetoric that private schools spend less and get more and they’ve never double-checked the facts. But even a few minutes of pondering their own budgets and looking up local public school spending brings them around. (Part of this perception is likely driven by differences in access to funding for capital projects, where heads of private schools recognize the heavy lifting of major fundraising campaigns, and envy the taxing authority of public school districts for these purposes).
In my view, the hypocrisy lies in what those who choose elite private schools for their own argue are the best solutions for public education for the children of others. If the preferences are the same, there is no hypocrisy. The problem is when those preferences are vastly different – completely at odds – as they tend to be in the present “ed reform” and “new normal” debate.