Private vs Public School

Discussion in 'Childhood and Beyond (4+)' started by HappyMomOfTwins, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. HappyMomOfTwins

    HappyMomOfTwins Well-Known Member

    My girls will be starting kindergarten in the fall and I wanted to know how some of you decided between private vs. public. I set up a meeting with the principal at the public school and will be attending an open house at the private school...does any one have suggestions of questions I should be asking?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. rubyturquoise

    rubyturquoise Well-Known Member

    DS2 attends a private school. He started in 7th grade. That was the first year we could really afford it. I have a friend who works in the Houston school system who said that unless safety is a factor, it doesn't really matter that much before middle school because the basics are the basics wherever you are.

    What I like about the private school is that it is a very small school. Only 500 students from K-12. His classes average around 15 students. When I call in I just say I'm "A's mom," and they know who I am. So there's a lot more personal attention. This particular school is college prep, so the focus is definitely on academics.

    Some disadvantages (this is mostly for older kids): they can't field the kind of sports teams larger public schools can, they have a smaller music program, drama program, things like that. There aren't as many electives, and those are primarily academic at this school. They don't have the funding to offer good services to kids with learning disabilities (they don't accept them as students, actually, because they can't provide for their education appropriately).

    They do say if you can afford day care, you can afford private school, but it's pricey. There is a bus, but I have to pay for it, and it's first-come, first-served for the year.

    They have a more stringent dress code (won't matter to elementary age, but might when they're older) and haircut policy than the public schools. This can be a plus or a minus, depending on your point of view.

    On the other hand, if there is an issue with a teacher, they have much greater discretion in hiring and firing than public schools do. When the assistant coach at my son's school was arrested for drug use, he was fired immediately and no longer allowed on school grounds.

    I would ask what the private school requires in the way of degrees for their teachers. I would ask what books they use for their curriculum. My SIL put her daughter in a church-run school that attracted parents by the high GPAs of their students. Her daughter finally told her that they were given the answers before every test. Generally you'd want a school following state guidelines, even if the materials differed somewhat. What kind of library facilities do they have? What kind of field trips do they take? Is there a nurse on campus?
  3. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    For me there wasn't a question--public school all the way!

    Some things to question at the private school would have to do with teacher certification and teacher turn around. Private schools do not have to have certified teachers--I am not saying that none of them do, just that it isn't required of them, so something you definately need to check into. Also, ask how they deal with special needs. Private schools also don't have to deal with them, and some will tell a parent that the a problem doesn't exist, and blame it on the child being lazy or something, just so they don't have to deal with an evaluation and offer of services.

    Public schools are required to have all teachers certified, and are required to evaluate and treat any special needs. Please don't take this to mean that I think your children will have special needs, but if a problem arises, it is good to know what is available.

    On the other end of the spectrum--find out what they do for Gifted Kids.

    Good luck with your decision.
  4. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    I feel the same as Sharon. We have been blessed with terrific public schools in our disctrict, amazing teachers, etc., so we've been very happy with our kids attending public schools. Personally for us, it isn't worth the investment in private school. I'd rather save our money for a good college. However, if we hadn 't had such great public schools, I would have been open to private school as an alternative. But that wasn't an issue for us.

    I really feel it depends upon your particular school district and also your reasons/needs for looking at private school. Everyone's situation is completely different.
  5. Tripsmommy

    Tripsmommy Well-Known Member

    Our private school teachers do have to be certified. I also somewhat disagree on basics being basics everywhere. My boys had to do science fair beginning now in 1st grade and one went on to compete in regionals. I know the public school down the street does not do this. This is just one example. For us it is a matter of class size and a Christian environment. There are only 12 other children in their classes. I also happen to teach there, so to me that makes all the difference. (easy choice) I do not get free tuition, but a discount. I also went to private school all the way up through high school, and I feel that is why I leaned towards sending them that way too. My DH is also a product of private schooling.
    Our private school does deal w/ some special needs children and would never call them lazy, and not get them help. They just need private therapies if necessary. More than likely b/c our headmaster has a special needs child herself and he does attend our school.
    It is a very personal choice, I feel one not to be taken lightly. for us, a no brainer. Even though we live 2 mins from a good elem school in a phenomenal district. I think part of it is one's own upbringing, and what your "comfort zone" is.

    I also wanted to add that our private school is an "accredited" school via acsi (assoc of Christian schools international) and perhaps that is why we have to be certified and meet certain criteria. Not all schools are acredited and this is something that should be looked into.
  6. Cristina

    Cristina Well-Known Member

    Private schools also don't have to deal with them, and some will tell a parent that the a problem doesn't exist, and blame it on the child being lazy or something, just so they don't have to deal with an evaluation and offer of services.

    Joel my oldest attends a private school and he does have special needs. I know that Sharon said, "some" so I just wanted to share that Joel's school did not do that. They are willing to work with him as long as the services needed are not extensive, since they do not have the money to provide for extra services. We have been very thankful that his teachers have been more than willing to work with him and accomodate for him. That being said, I have to be very proactive with the teachers, supplying ideas and lists of accomodations for him. The principal did tell me we can sit down and make a 504 plan together, that even though the teachers are not required to follow it, they will and it will give them something to work with. I just haven't done it yet.

    We chose private school for a variety of reasons. One being the classes are very small (Joel's school is K-12 and only has 200 students) and Joel does not do well in large groups. We also wanted a Christian based education. The school is so small it feels like family, I just call and give my first name and they know right away who it is. I can just walk in whenever I please. The parents help keep the school going by donating time cleaning, organizing, plowing, etc.. so it really does feel like a family. As the years go on, we will have to make tougher decisions regarding Joel's placement. If he needs more than the school can provide, we will go to the public school.

    I was raised in private schools, though not Christian, and had a wonderful experience. I was also a public school teacher before kids and know what great programs and teachers there are out there. That is why I am not opposed to publc schools. Aaron and Connor attend preschool through the publc school, since they qualified at risk, and I have been more than pleased. They have great programs, technology that Joel's school would only dream of, sports that the private school could never offer and so much more.

    I guess I am trying to say that it really all depends on your child, their needs, and your feelings regarding religious education. (if that is the kind of private school you are talking about) I know for me if religious instruction was not such a priority, we would not have even considered a private school.

    We still do not know where Aaron and Connor will go. That is a whole different situation and we are still mulling it over. To be honest, I have cried myself to sleep trying to make a decision that I just can't seem to make!
  7. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Cristina, I am glad you posted, because I was thinking of you when I posted earlier :).

    I agree that there are private schools that do offer those things, and that is why I put it down as a question to ask. There are great private schools, and poor private schools, just as there are great public schools and poor public schools :)
  8. twoin2005

    twoin2005 Well-Known Member

    I agree with Sharon!

    Also, DH's parents put him in a private school in 6th-8th grade. DH is a quiet guy and was a decent student, but totally flew under the radar. His parents thought that by moving him to a small private school, he wouldn't be so lost. But DH did not like it, he continued to fly under the radar, and he did not receive the help he needed and fell behind, thus really hating school. That has kind of skewed our opinion. His brother also went there and struggled, and was basically kicked out. He struggled due to learning disabilities and this private school was not equipped to handling his special needs.

    I teach in my neighborhood's public school, and so we will have our kids go to that school. It is a great school and I am confident they will get a good education there.
  9. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    Even though our school system has a lot of problems and an extremely high low-income percentage, here's why we choose public school:

    1. The public school gifted program here is outstanding, and our oldest is in it (we're waiting to see if the other two make it).

    2. Paying for three tuitions is completely out of the question.

    3. We like the racial and socioeconomic diversity that public school provides. This is a big reason why we didn't move to the next town like most of our friends did, where the schools are ranked very high, but the population is nearly all white, middle class.

    4. Our friends' child, who goes to a respected, nondenominational, nonfundamental Christian school here, came home with a worksheet from science class that said humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs, and only about 4,000 years ago. :blink: 'Nuff said.
  10. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    Amy, well said. Our reasons are the same as your #1-#3. I can't speak to #4 but that is a scary thought. :eek:
  11. HappyMomOfTwins

    HappyMomOfTwins Well-Known Member

    Thank you to everyone for weighing in. My biggest concern with the public schools are their difficulty in working with the parents. I called to find out what I needed for registration, shots, etc and asked them about the policy on twin placement and I was told I will be lucky if they get in the same school since it is an open district and lottery system where they get placed. They will not allow twins being placed together -- which is fine the first year since my girls want their own classroom, but I would like to know it can be re-evaluated annually. My last concern is, I am not completely convinced that it is the best education, even though the test scores say they do a good job. I went to the public schools where I live and I was not impressed through my own experiences. However, the private schools are all out of town and I do worry about them not having friends in the neighborhood and being with a more diverse group of people.

    Talk about losing sleep over this decision :blink:
  12. momof5

    momof5 Well-Known Member

    My kids go private as did I. My DH went public. I don't know about other schools so I will only tell you about our private school if a child continues to break rules, they are out of there. Our private school has a stricter set of rules than our public school and our public school has to put up with more because "every child has the right to a free education." Our private school has no more than 26 students to every teacher, it is much higher in our public schools. Public schools can and do kick out problem students but only after many many rules have been broken. I also like the dress code. In most professions there is a dress code and this teaches discipline and dressing respectfully so why not at our schools? Before I let people say to me, "We would LOVE a private school but CAN"T afford it" I say to them, "How much do you pay for cel phones or artificial nails or eating out or vacations or gym shoes, etc etc" Most CAN afford private school IF they are willing to go without. We have $30 cel phones with bare minimum service for emergency purposes only, my sister cuts my hair, I don't have artificial nails, no tanning, basic cable (and sometimes not even that), etc. For us, I also like the fact that my kids pray aloud everyday. This was NOT our reason for choosing private but it is a nice benefit for us. I also like the sexual education program better for our 7th grader rather than the program taught at our neighborhood public school. Public schools pay better which is why my brother teaches at our neighborhood public school which is how I know for a fact about our public school programs. :blush:
  13. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    I was told I will be lucky if they get in the same school since it is an open district and lottery system where they get placed.

    Our district has been a lottery for years. My twins (and the twin girls across the street) all got our first-choice school because we chose the one closest to our house -- it would be our "neighborhood" school is the district assigned seats that way. I would think the district would do whatever they could to keep twins at the same school -- ours gives big priority to children who already have siblings at the school, so that parents aren't chasing all over town. I understand your concern, though. I was very relieved when our kindergarteners were placed and I was finally done with the lottery process (our middle and high schools are neighborhood schools now).

    As for your concern about friends in the neighborhood, I wouldn't worry about that too much. On our one block, there are kids that attend four different schools. It doesn't make any difference to them -- they just want to play together when school's out! :)
  14. ehm

    ehm Banned

    Public is the only option for us.

    Most CAN afford private school IF they are willing to go without.
    Not if your income is less than the expense of private school. I am glad you have figured out a way to afford private school for your children but to assume people could afford it if their priorities were different is very condescending in my opinion. I have not had my hair cut in years since I don't know anyone who can do it on the side. I wait for years until my hair is long enough to donate so I can get a free hair cut, my cell phone is less than $30 a month, never tanned in my life, had one vacation in the last 10 years......anyway I could go on and on but if the income isn't there (and financial assistance is not available through the school) then there is absolutely no way we could afford private school no matter how much we go without and I can venture a guess that we are not the only ones in this situation. Again, I am happy that you are able to work out a budget that allows for you to make private school an option for your family but it honestly isn't an option for everyone.
  15. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    It's not only a question of not being able to afford private school for three children. But since we have great public schools in our district, we decided our money is better spent on saving for a good college for the boys instead.
  16. Susanna+3

    Susanna+3 Well-Known Member

    I taught in public schools for 4 years... I attended public school in high school...and private schools earlier... so I feel like I have some perspective on the issue. I really think a huge part of it depends on what public school district you are in AND what grade levels you are talking about. In addition, of course, to what your beliefs are and what things you feel comfortable having your kids exposed to. I feel more comfortable having my kids in public school after 9th grade when they really have a solid foundation and know what they believe...and are mature enough to handle some of the garbage they'll be exposed to in public school. They really are doing sex ed. at younger ages these days...and even prior to that many of the elementary students are "educated" by their peers. that bothers me. Gosh I made it through until 8th or 9th grade without really knowing the specifics of how it all worked... and I kind of hope my kids can have a nice innocent childhood as well. I think you can find public schools and private schools that are fairly equal in terms of quality of education. That's not to say that every public school or every private school will measure up. In some ways the public school I attended was way better than the private school. They had better language arts teachers...and the english teacher at our private school was really, really bad. I had never even heard of things like symbolism until I hit 11th grade in public school! But the math teachers at the private school were way better than the math teachers in the public school. They took a lot more time making sure the individual student understood what was being taught. And it wasn't class size. My private school classes were just as large as the public school ones for math. So it really depends on so many factors. No one can assess your situation for you. I have taught in a school district in which I would NEVER want my own children attending at any level due to how incredibly corrupt the school system was from the bottom up. But I've also taught in a school district where I could see my kids attending...perhaps not at every level but at most levels it felt safe to me.

    The sad reality is that not everyone can afford private schools...and not everyone can afford to move into an area with a good public school. We're kind of in that boat right now, and I'm actually planning to homeschool my kids for awhile. I had a few years of homeschooling as a child, and I feel like it's a good choice for us.
  17. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    Gosh I made it through until 8th or 9th grade without really knowing the specifics of how it all worked... and I kind of hope my kids can have a nice innocent childhood as well.

    Wow! Was that at a private school? Around here, it's always been 5th grade for public schools. IMO, especially today, 8th-9th grade is waiting too long. I think it's still very possible to have an innocent childhood even though you understand how sex works.
  18. momof5

    momof5 Well-Known Member

    EHM, my beef is with people who spend thousands on name brands and many expensive meals, take a vacation every 3 or 4 months, have brand new cars every year, etc etc. I didn't say or mean that everyone can afford private schools. Many people struggle and struggle and make every sacrifice and the tuition money still isn't there. We used to get financial aid when we had our former pastor. Without that aid, we couldn't have afforded it, either. Sorry if you misunderstood.
  19. Jamesb

    Jamesb Well-Known Member

    My kids go to a private school, a Steiner school. (For more info on steiner education follow this: ) Some private schools have their downsides, one of them already pointed out them the inability to field sporting teams, I don't understand why this is really a concern, in my own opinion I don't like the idea of competitive sports at school, our kids do that during the weekend. If you are sending your kids to a school because of a particular sport I would say they are mis-placed intentions.

    If you are going to send your child to a private school, check to see if they have any rules that ban any label clothing, here in some top end private schools that don't require uniforms this is a bit of an issue as the kids with wealthier parents wearing expensive clothes, while that shouldn't be a problem in the real world, fashion and peer pressure go hand in hand.

    If my children were going to a new private school tomorrow, I would be looking for, Small class sizes ie no bigger than 15, also a strict dress code.

    The school my children go to currently have a simple dress code saying no logo brand name clothing, any type of flat sole shoe is fine as long as they are not thongs ( I think you call them flip flops) however sandals are fine, sandals are what most of the kids wear most of the year.
  20. Jberman

    Jberman Well-Known Member

    I went to public school. Where I am in NJ, the schools that I went to and the districts around us are great!! I was in Speical Ed for a little while, and it was a good experience, where I am they have the services, and the money to help students. I have a friend that went to privite school after 6th grade, she had a great experience as well, however, I do feel that when/if my friend has kids she might send them to public school.
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    BillShiphr Well-Known Member

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