As one who is fairly partisan politically, it is most uncomfortable to note my growing alienation from formerly exclusive political bed-fellows; they are simply violating all my moral, political and pedagogical principles regarding matters Educational.

How can this have come to pass? I believe Democrats For Educational Reform (DFER), along with the Coalition for School Reform (CSR) and the LA fund for public education is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of politics, the wrong side of doing right by our children. There is little to deny about the notion that our schools can stand improvement. I can think of not a single institution that does not. That is the nature of evolution and relativity: everything can be better (everything can be worse too).

The question is what you do about an evident deficit. Do you stick around and improve things, or do you take your cookies and go home?

So many of our countries’ educated’s children, in addition to those of the Educational Reformers who comprise our political leadership class, have our own children in private school that the deficit in actual eye-witness experience is significant. We have listened to our “tribe’s” whisperings about public school inadequacy. We look in the eyes of our own precious children, and decline to do “the experiment” on our own, the experiment of contributing personally to the democracy of education. We will not question the certitude of our entitlement to claiming exceptional circumstance. And we decline to deny ourselves privilege commensurate with our means.

All this is fair enough; it is the “American Way”, perhaps. But it does not result in accurate data on reality. Theories get spun in a vacuum and never evaluated in the field. Practical and extenuating circumstances being so complicated to factor in, simply get ignored instead. But reality marches on. Simplistic interpretations are not complete. A “crisis” in our public schools may be evident, but the determinants of the crisis are by no means obvious, the “solutions” offered in ignorance therefore all but irrelevant.

I believe that so many of us with terrific experiences in private schools really do want to “share the wealth”. We wish to provide the same opportunities that have worked so well for us, to others less economically fortunate, to one and all. The motivation is good if simplistic: provide a small, independent school like my child’s own private one and when the public experience is as good as my own private experience, there will be no censure for having opted out of the system, into undemocratic isolation.

The fallacy is that the single-school model so successful among an elite, isolated subpopulation can ever be replicable among the whole of society. The circumstances are different, because and wholly because, isolated subpopulations are different. Formerly the heterogeneity of public school learners was accommodated by substituting the economy of scale afforded by a large district for the amenities accrued with vast private resources. Segregating subpopulations in small schools simply starves the whole of resources. The best way to share equitably among all is for all to be together in the pool of resources available for sharing.

Conversely, sequestering resources in a separate pool away from the whole is declining to participate in the sharing of resources. Replicating the experience of the private school may be impossible at large, probably even undesirable. But the very practice of segregating learners itself contributes to an inherent inequity of resources, and this inequity can never be redressed. Not by trickery, only by denial, perhaps.

Which is all to say that no matter how much we may want to share the wealth, it cannot be done actually, unless these resources are, simply, shared. No amount of survivor’s guilt will change the reality of inequitable resources. Just carving the pie into smaller and smaller pieces does not change how little of it there may have been in the beginning, even if those resulting pieces take on some superficial similarities with the isolated ideal.

Opting out of public education is opting in to being part of the problem. Declining to address the problem of inadequate resources, makes it one’s own.