New York — Of course there are differences between the roles of the public and private sectors. But what I want to emphasize today almost never gets mentioned -- they are in large part about the same business. That is, the very important business of passing on from one generation to the next what is known about the world, about human experiences in it, and about the skills needed to deal with it.
Added to this is the equally important mission of helping individual students to develop their potentials and to become all they have it within them to become.
Riverdale does these things for its students, and so do the nearby public schools in the Bronx.
You support Riverdale by paying tuition or making donations or both. You support the schools in the Bronx by paying taxes.
Both are important and both are significant elements of the diverse system of education we have inherited from the historical experience of educational development in this land.
Indeed, I am prepared to argue that neither our private nor our public educational institutions would be as good as they are without the presence of the other.
Occasionally I encounter someone who objects to paying taxes for public schools because his children attend private school. Conversely, I sometimes encounter persons who went to private schools and argue that they should not continue to support them because they paid full tuition or because their children now go to public school.
I shall have to say that I regard both these views as narrow and mistaken.
The person who attends a private educational institution and then feels no obligation about its future is at best uninformed and at worst miserly. Everyone at any private school or college benefits from the generosity of generations that have gone before, and if such institutions are to continue, each generation must assume that burden.
Parents who send their children to private schools and colleges pick up some of this moral obligation, just as the children do.