When giving the "best" to your kids isn't the best

Image courtesy  of: cbsi.com

Image courtesy  of: cbsi.com

My husband and I take education very seriously, and have spent a lot of time talking about how to educate our children even before they were born. We don't like the format of public schooling today - extensive focus on just math and reading, little to no recess or arts, no opportunity for personalized learning that goes beyond age-bound grade levels, the list goes on... (disclosure: we are both products of K-12 public education)

Since we have a strong disagreement with the public schooling format, that means we need to explore other options that we can live with. We've considered charter schools, homeschooling, and even private schools.

Private school isn't all that

In my research on schooling models, I found this study from the Center on Education Policy. The bottom line finding? When family background is taken into account, students who attend private high schools receive neither immediate academic advantages nor longer-term advantages in attending college, finding satisfaction in the job market, or participating in civic life.

Did you catch that? Private high school doesn't make a difference in short or long-term academic and professional outcomes.

Balance the needs of your kids with your own

Let's assume that all things are equal between a private school and other schooling options, except for the fact that the private school costs you money. Sometimes, a LOT of money. Is it really worth it? Is it really worth sacrificing other goals, like retirement or even owning your own home because you can't save for a down payment? Or, if you can't afford it from your own salary is it really worth taking out a loan? I found an ad for this K-12 education loan from AAA. You can borrow up to $30,000 before your child even graduates from high school. Before your child is likely to have any income-generating capabilities that will come from that schooling. I did some further research and found that other financial "institutions" are also offering these loans, including Sallie Mae. I have no problem saying that taking out a loan for K-12 schooling is one of the best ways to throw away money.

Parents, you may think that paying extra for something as noble as education is a measure of how good a parent you are. It isn't. You have to live within your means, balance your other financial goals, and make sure that you are taking care of your own financial future as well. (Planning on your kids to take care of you in retirement is not a plan.)

I love my daughter, but I'm not going to significantly derail my long-term financial goals for something that will have a negligible impact on her future. What will help her is giving her my time and love, and helping her become a well-rounded person capable of making good decisions.