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I wanted my granddaughter to do better than me, so I pay for her private school

Juan Gaddis   

I wanted my granddaughter to do better than me, so I pay for her private school
  • I attended public schools but realized in college I didn't know how to speak proper English.
  • I paid for my granddaughter to go to private schools so she would be better off than me.

Part of the American dream is wanting more for the next generation; education is usually the key. My grandfather often said, "Education is the one thing that can't be taken from you."

I graduated from public schools, but when I got to college, I realized I didn't speak English. My first semester was spent self-teaching the rules of grammar.

I wanted something different for my granddaughter, so her grandmother and I are paying for her to attend private schools.

She's in private school

My granddaughter has been attending private schools since age 3. Her lower school was shared with kids from middle-class families, but middle school was different. The carpool line was filled with luxury SUVs, and many families lived in gated communities or houses with outer buildings.

Last spring, we started looking at high schools that would challenge her academically and athletically. We applied to two schools but were wait-listed at both. The number of applicants had increased exponentially at all private schools in the Metropolitan Washington Area due to disillusionment with how public schools handled remote learning during the pandemic.

Faced with the possibility of no movement on the wait lists, we looked at public school alternatives. A brand-new high school was opening in a more affluent neighborhood, so we entered the lottery since she was outside that school's boundaries. Luckily, we were picked.

She felt out of place at school and in her neighborhood

Her mother felt she should go to a school closer to home. I stressed the new school would only have 9th and 10th graders and would be racially diverse. Her mother lashed out, saying, "Why not go ahead and say what you mean? It will have more white kids."

She went on to share that my granddaughter felt out of place at the schools she had attended and was ashamed to invite her classmates to her house because the children came from wealthy families, and her mother couldn't afford to give her the things her classmates had. She also shared that the children in her neighborhood teased her because they had nothing in common, and she was called a "little rich kid" who went to private school.

When I said, "I never thought of it like that." she responded, "You wouldn't; you live in a mansion."

I never invited anyone home

I don't live in a mansion, but the conversation made me sad. I grew up in a house inferior to almost every other home in the neighborhood. I never attended or hosted sleepovers and was mortified when my mother wanted to throw a graduation party for me when I finished 12th grade. I attended college with many students from old money. My name confused people when trying to guess my origin. There was a rumor that I lived in Washington, D.C., because my parents were in diplomatic service; I never corrected them. I also never invited anyone home.

As it got closer to the opening of school, I became worried that navigating public high school may be too big of a challenge for my granddaughter, and I was not impressed with the unresponsiveness of the school's administration to my queries about class schedules and other questions I had.

Three weeks before school started, I phoned a private school I had toured with my grandson and inquired if they had filled their 9th-grade class. They invited us to apply, and I worked diligently to get transcripts and recommendations and to schedule interviews.

My granddaughter loves her new school, has joined the volleyball team, is preparing for her first homecoming dinner and dance, and is looking forward to her spring trip to Dubai.

I have no regrets for wanting better for my granddaughter.

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