As the title implies, some of these posts are ruminations. This particular one is a rant.
Whenever I want to annoy my wife, which is almost always, I point out that my public school education is superior to her far more expensive private school education. She's still naive enough to think that her four years of Latin has an application in today's world, while I point out that the nuns clearly failed to teach her basic math.
And it's that mathematical advantage I have over her that has led me to realize lately that the "free" public education my kids enjoy is, in fact, not free at all.
It came to a head this week when my daughter got a free ticket to a local minor league baseball game because she had earned a certain number of points in an accelerated reading program. As a loving father, I decided to take off from work so I could attend the game with her. As it turned out, the game ended up costing me about fifty bucks.
Her ticket was free. Mine was not. That was the first twelve dollars. She had to ride a bus to the stadium and I had to chip in two dollars to pay the bus driver, even though I was driving to the same place myself.
Parking was also not free. That's another fiver. Lunch was not free. Six bucks apiece for a really bad hot dog, chips, an apple and a Sprite. By the way, my daughter doesn't drink carbonated beverages, so the Sprite went to waste and I had to shell out an additional four dollars for a bottle of water. And because the ballpark frank was inedible, we went to the concession stand and doled out another ten bucks for something we could stomach.
Then, because there were no shaded seats in the place, we endured about three innings in the full sun before my daughter got sick and decided she wanted to leave. She felt much better once we got back to the car and she was able to cool down.
Don't get me wrong. We had a great day together, but I could have taken her to a major league game with better food and better players for just about the same amount of money that the free game ended up costing me.
The experience crystallized for me just how many, many things our family has to pay for each and every school year. I expected to buy a pencil or two, but not the insanely long list of particular supplies that each of the kids' teachers feel are required. Then there's the activity fee that apparently doesn't pay for any activity because we are hit up each time there's another event. A foot race. A book fair. A luau. A "free" ball game.
I'm beginning to understand the allure of homeschooling. I'm thinking it has to be way more affordable than the public schools. It's just too bad my wife's private school education has left her so ill-prepared to be a homeschool teacher. (Rimshot)