Author Topic: Private School Civility Gap  (Read 1233 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Private School Civility Gap
« on: October 30, 2010, 10:37:35 pm »

October 29, 2010
Private School Civility Gap
Education reform is all the rage these days.

It’s no longer just the weighty obsession of parents with few options scrambling to get a child into a better school. It has also become the “it” topic of the cocktail crowd, including many parents with children who have never seen the inside of a public school. “Waiting for Superman” is the new “An Inconvenient Truth.”

This new discussion centers on the achievement gap in public schools. It’s an intractable issue and needs as much attention as it’s getting. But a study released on Tuesday highlights another subject that’s much less discussed: let’s call it the private school civility gap, particularly at religious private schools and particularly among boys.

This is a not-so-little, not-so-secret, dirty little secret among the upper crust.

I have a girl and two boys who among them have attended two great public schools and two great private schools. As any parent who’s been on both sides of the fence can tell you, the concept of community and how to exist in it vary wildly between these two groups, and one of the biggest issues I’ve noticed is the way these students deal differently with issues of tolerance.

Private schools by their very nature discriminate. Their students are literally the chosen ones — special, better. This sort of thinking has a way of weaving itself into the fibers of a family and into the thinking of the children, particularly young boys in a male culture where even the slightest deviations from the narrowest concepts of normality are heretical.

It is no wonder then that the study, which was conducted by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics of more than 43,000 high school students, found that:

• Boys who went to private religious schools were most likely to say that they had used racial slurs and insults in the past year as well as mistreated someone because he or she “belonged to a different group.”

• Boys at religious private schools were the most likely to say that they had bullied, teased or taunted someone in the past year.

• While boys at public schools were the most likely to say that it was O.K. to hit or threaten a person who makes them very angry, boys at private religious schools were just as likely to say that they had actually done it.

While some public schools have issues with academic attainment, it appears that some private schools have issues with tolerance. No person is truly better when they lack this basic bit of civility.

(This all assumes that these children told the truth. As it turns out, private school students were also the most likely to lie. According to the study, they were the least likely to say that they had answered all the questions “with complete honesty.”)