I was somewhat taken aback by the “title” given to Ilana Kantey’s letter in last week’s Standard, “In praise of diversity,” because there is no option for diversity in the types of education parents wish for their children as the letter is written. Ms. Kantey, it seems, would like every parent to send their child to public schools and those parents who wish some Jewish education for their children to be satisfied with afternoon and week-end “Hebrew schools.” While this option has been the one of choice for many families in this country, it definitely does not satisfy the goals and extent of Jewish education for many others.
As far as learning to live with and accept people of other religions and ethnicities, I believe that kind of comfort comes from the home and often is not intrinsic to the public-school experience. Having attended public schools, I heard anti-Jewish comments not only from classmates, but from teachers. I also remember attending assembly in elementary school in the days when prayer started the program, and that those prayers and the deity mentioned was not one that had meaning for me. Also, in public schools, the various groups form homogeneous clusters and do not really engage with each other anyway.
I have nothing against public school or Hebrew schools. What I am opposed to is the suggestion that parents are wrong in the choices that they make and/or the suggestion that they shouldn’t have those choices in the first place.