Even without disabilities, a parents understanding of a specific child’s person­ality, or a parent’s desire to secure a “better” education, might lead to the con­clusion that a private school education would be the best option to help that child maximize achievement.10 A number of professional middle-class parents spontaneously explained that they had sent their children to private schools for at least some, if not all, of their educational careers: “We’ve been fortunate that he does go to a private school.” And some were relieved that this option created an appropriately achievement-oriented milieu: “Most of her friends are private school kids; they’re all top college bound, good students; [they] want to do well.”

Parents whose children attended private schools also believed that they had the right to ask for special privileges to secure a competitive advantage for their children. One white mother of two children explained how she had become involved in her older son’s educational career and requested that the school increase the pressure on him:

I actually called the school and asked why they aren’t pushing him as hard as I think he could be when you’re paying for a private education. . . . I’m wondering why it’s so easy to get 99s on your report card all the time. He’s bright, but I just felt like I’m paying for private education, he should be challenged more.

Even if they didn’t opt for private schools, the professional middle-class parents knew how to get the best out of the schools their children attended.11 They also generally lived in neighborhoods with higher median incomes, more expensive homes, and a more highly educated population than did mid­dle-class and working-class families. In all likelihood, these factors translate into better schools as well.12 Indeed, many of the parents said that they had chosen a particular community because they knew it offered superior public schools.13 As Jane Ferrara said of her Boston suburb, “It’s a really great school system, and that’s why we moved here.”