Do we pit Quaker children against Quaker education?
Ann wrote the following comment:
"I was told that to favor Quaker children, by offering them places first, and scholarships (for Quakers only) was against the equality testimony. Well, I'm trying to wrap my head about elite schools that cost more than college (well over five figures) meshing with simplicity!
Plus, a family with a stay at home parent was penalized when evaluating the need for financial aid. They were given an amount they 'could' be making, if they worked.
It's funny. Quakers have such difficulty with outreach, for fear of turning people off, or being pushy, or attracting the wrong sorts of people (not genuine 'seekers', might get some simple folk who just like the message) and so on, but they also have problems supporting a FULL Quaker lifestyle, including education."
What do you think? This post resonated with me, because, frankly, it sounded familiar. I know most Quaker schools charge what they do because, the way the system is currently set up, they have to. They also often (but not always!) lack the big endowments that allow liberal disbursement of scholarships. But still I can't help but see a conflict between the Quaker testimony of simplicity and the high cost of a Quaker education.
Sometimes when someone mentions that the high price of a Quaker education excludes some Quaker children, someone else will bring up the need to charge high tuitions to pay teachers a decent wage. Since most Quakers don't approve of exploiting workers and as nobody wants to look selfish and say, "I don't care how much teachers make as long as my child gets a Quaker education," teacher pay usually stops the conversation.
Clearly, we do want to pay educators as well as we can. And from what I can tell, because of the way the system is currently set up, most Quaker schools charge what they do as a matter of survival.
However, I can't help but think that rather than set parents and teaching staff in opposition, there must be a way to find a "win-win" solution.
I'm very sympathetic to the plight of Quaker schools. Having been "up close and personal" with one for almost a year, I know that they're, at least in one case, running on slim margins and need tuition money to survive.
How can we balance the needs? How important is it to make Quaker education affordable for Quaker families?
First, I've seen very few people embrace simplicity without lowering their incomes. High-pressure, high-paying jobs are seldom compatible with a simple heart. Often, one way or another, what people do when they embrace simplicity is free up time for themselves so they can serve. John Woolman is a good example of this. Yet, it appears as if at least one Quaker school wanted to penalize parents who were living on one income. I can understand a family in which the non-working spouse took a job to pay for Quaker education feeling it was unfair to give financial aid to a family that didn't do the same, but I also have to wonder at system that pressures people to take on a second job. It seems to buy into the notion that the answer to everything is to earn (or get) more money. And why stop at valuing in the cost of what a spouse "could make?" Why not penalize the two-income families that have not chosen the highest-paying use of their educations? Why not penalize the lawyer working for a social services agency who "could" be making five times as much in corporate law? Or the medical researcher trying to find a cure for cancer who "could" have become a plastic surgeon at a far higher rate of pay?
Assuming they can, should Quaker school cut amenities to become more affordable? Should they offer a preference to Quaker children in scholarship money? Where does the true value of a Quaker education lie?