Matt Damon’s Dilemma

Matt Damon’s Dilemma

Julien Hautier 14 agosto 2014 Comments

Why become an advocate for public education when you send your own children to a private school? That was the question that left well-known actor Matt Damon nearly speechless in an interview with CNN. To make an analogy, it would be like claiming to be a supporter of Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity with a hamburger, bursting with saturated fats, in hand.

Humor and simple irony aside, I believe that many of us can honestly empathize with the problem Matt Damon is facing. Just as he does, you and I have a desire for high-quality public education. However, when it is time to make our decision, would we opt to send our children to private schools?

If you have the financial means, it is very likely that you will make that exact same choice. And as the level of your income increases, the more likely it is that this preference for private education becomes a reality. According to a recent study that surveyed homes in eight Latin American countries, the probability that a child is sent to a private school is greater than 50% for homes whose daily income exceeds $40, and where the father completed secondary school. In other words, in Latin America, when you earn a middle class income (more than $10 per day, per member of the household), almost certainly you will seek to send your children to a private school.

Why? Isn’t the answer obvious? —“So that my children can have access to a higher-quality education and to a good job.” Here we do not take into account linguistic or denominational preferences, but… have you ever asked yourself how true this is? Is it really fair that a parent’s economic success determines the quality of their children’s education? Several studies, including some in Ecuador where I work, show that the differences in standardized test scores between children in public schools and those in private schools primarily reflect differences in socio-economic status between students. In other words, if we randomly choose two students from similar backgrounds, there is no reason to think that one would have better results than the other (on average), independently of whether they go to a private or public school.

Also, the PISA study shows that the proportion of well-performing students is very low in Latin America and, assuming that those students come mostly from private schools (a hypothesis not proven, but totally believable), this implies that private schools respond adequately to the large challenge of educational quality in the region.

“I am confused!” you say. “What do I do now?” My response would be that, in the short term, demand more for what you are paying and that, in the long term, promote public education through your voice, your vote, and your tax dollars.

So that next time you cross paths with Matt Damon on the street or, more likely, with a government official (especially during elections), remind him or her that you wish you could enroll your children in a free, high-quality public school where they will be able to interact with children from diverse backgrounds.

    2 thoughts on “Matt Damon’s Dilemma

    1. Russev

      He is one of my favourite character. he is my inspiration also

    2. Gale Oxley

      I agree with Matt Demon as the desireto have your children exposed to the best education possible may place a parent in selecting choices for schools.
      I had the same dilemma when my children were of primary school age. I was a teacher in a public school and I did not want my children exposed to the culture of these public schools so I sent them to a private school up to grade 4.

      I then tried a denominational public school for a while but that did not work as I had to return to the private school for further education.

      At the secondary level I chose again public school but had to remove my son and home school him up to the year of exams when I returned him to a private school to complete his education at the secondary level.

      The main reason for these problems was socialization. academics and economics made no difference since I was a teacher and could afford private school. Home schooling was the final option. Today we cannot depend on teachers to train our children since their cultural background and the choice of teachers selected to teach is out ofthe hands of parents. Parents can only give suggestions, the government rules the classroom.

      I am happy with my choices and if I have to do it again I certainly would do this as my children are men of integrity now.

      Time for us to bring integrity to the classroom whether public or private so that society can benefit from the magnanimous investments in education.

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