Public versus private school?

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by Trishandthegirls, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Trishandthegirls

    Trishandthegirls Well-Known Member

    The Topic about daycare/nanny costs got me thinking about what we all plan to do with our twins when they reach kindergarten age. Some of you mentioned in the other Topic that you're looking forward to the day when you don't have to pay for private preschool/daycare.

    So... when your kids are old enough, will you send them to public school? Or will you put them in a private school? What factored into your choice? And if it's private, approximately how much will you have to pay?

    I'll go first...

    Unfortunately, we live in a state with horrible education, and our city is worse than average for our state. So, our girls will probably go to private school for all years. We have many very good private school options since the public schools are so crappy. The school our girls go to now is age 2-12, but we'll probably move them to a different school when they're 5 (it's age 5-12). It's slightly closer to home and I really like their facilities and teaching style. Tuition is about $900/month per kid, and the girls will be in school from 8:30 - 3.
  2. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Public here. Private would be just too expensive, even if somehow I manage to find a job while the kids are at school. The schools are ok though, but who knows what they will be like in 10 years anyway.

    We wanted to move to a place with better schools, but housing and taxes are 40% higher, so it was out of the question.
  3. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Honestly, we plan on moving one county over just for their public schools. One of the benefits of living in Virginia!!

    What factored in to our decision is #1 - we have some of the best schools in the nation in that county and #2 - it's free. :) I think I deserve a break after paying so much for daycare!!
  4. NINI H

    NINI H Well-Known Member

    We will homeschool here in NOVA. How much will it cost? That totally depends on if I use the same curriculum as the big boys. It is more $ than public school would be, but much less than private and I control the curriculum. Best of both worlds. :)
  5. kingeomer

    kingeomer Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Well it depends. Right now we have to live in the city because of DH's job and won't be able to move out until 2012 (the kids won't start kindergarten until 2013), so if we are in the city still we will definitely have to do private school. The public school system in the city stinks. If we are able to move out to the suburbs, it depends on the school district...if it's decent then we would do public school.
    I had thought about a charter school but those are by lottery and we can't be guaranteed that our kids would get into the same school and we don't care about them being in the same class but we would like them to attend the same school.
  6. sullivanre

    sullivanre Well-Known Member

    It would take an extreme circumstance for me to send my kids to a private school. I am a very firm believer in public education. I think a strong public education system is necessary for a truly democratic society. To me, when middle class, highly educated people like myself (although I sure don't feel middle class right now, since we are all unemployed, LOL), send their kids to private schools, it further exacerbates race and class inequality. Plus, I think my kids will have greater exposure to a diverse group of kids in public schools, and that's something that my DH and I value. I'm a product of a low income public school, so I have first hand experience with the problems that go along with underfunding in high poverty districts, and it is a challenge to overcome that, but I also know that parents can do quite a bit to help make up for what the school lacks (assuming the parents are well educated, have access to good resources, and have the time it takes to supplement the schools).

    So I guess for me it's not just a personal decision, but a political commitment to my own kids, and the community that we will live in, and our country as well. I might be able to think of a few cases where I would go against that and send my kids to private school, but it would take something pretty serious.

    ETA: I know I gave a Denlike response here, but it's how I feel. In fact, it took me a minute to realize the thread was not in the Den. :)
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  7. Danibell

    Danibell Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    We are doing/will be continuing with public education for our kids. While our state/county doesn't have the best public school system, the cost of private school anywhere nearby is completely out of our price range. So far, my oldest is in 3rd grade and he's doing fabulous in public school, he's in the gifted and talented program and ranks in the high 90th percentile of the entire US for his age/class range with all his test scores :) We're happy with how his education is going :)
  8. ECUBitzy

    ECUBitzy Well-Known Member

    Our current plan is to send the girls to public school through middle grades, then evaluate the performance of our local high schools to determine if we'll send them there or to a college prep school in the area.

    I have no earthly clue, though, how much the school I want costs now or will cost in 12 years. Maybe more than I can afford, which will settle that debate!

    ETA: Just checked the school's website and it would cost $21,300.00 per year for my girls to attend. That's 2/3 of what my husband makes as a public school teacher. Holy heck.
  9. akameme

    akameme Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I support public education, however we are seeking a progressive education for our children. I'm very concerned about the fixation on test scores and how that is impacting the type of learning and education. So this is pushing us toward private school. i don't know that we can afford it, but I don't know that we can afford not to.
  10. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    I totally agree and since I am not a Den member, I am glad you wrote this.

    Not only am I a product of public schools, but I taught in them (and hope to again in the future). Currently I teach in a publicly funded preschool (my girls attend).

    I completely agree with above. I went to school in several states from K-12th grade. One of them was in the deep south----where many middle/upper class families sent their kids to private schools that have very little diversity (ethnic, political, or otherwise). My family was one of the only ones in our neighborhood to utilize the public schools-- I learned a lot during those two years that still influences me as an adult, and very little of it was academic. I had my eyes opened to more than I ever would have in a sheltered private school. It was not a horrible school- it was a school that was working with what it had (there was no rampant violence or massive drug use, but it was mostly filled with kids from a lower income bracket, lots of poverty) in an area that had some very deep roots on how things 'ought' to be and is slow to change (ideas and things). I learned compassion, empathy, about racism, how money influences people, and how to 'be' a good teacher when given odd stacked against you (I had some phenomenal teachers). I had not thought of many of those things before---both due to my young age and the fact that I was not exposed to much of it where we had moved from. I would not change a thing.

    Another school situation I was in involved a move to the North where we were in an area that the majority was a different religion than my family practiced. I learned a lot there too, and all of it positive (this was also in a really good public school system). I learned tolerance, a bit about faith, and a lot about acceptance.

    I probably went through 5+ school systems across 4 very very different states (ethnically, politically, economically, etc)- I believe I got a great education in both book information and in 'real life lessons'.

    I truly think that (with some exceptions) that public schools help build more character traits than academics. Academics are very important, but as stated---academics are rooted at home. Kids that have academically supportive parents do better no matter what school they are in.

    Yes, our public programs have flaws. Yes, they vary widely and that is neither fair nor comprehensible. But that applies to private schools too.

    For our family, even thought I dont agree 100% with all that our Public schools (that we currently live in) offer or teach. I know that DH and I can help them understand why they teach it without compromising our own beliefs-- and at the same times my kids will learn more about diversity, acceptance, how to get along with others, and tolerance than I could teach them at a private location. Lastly, I personally work with Special Needs kids- I want my kids to be able to see kids and adults with Special Needs in an academic and social setting. There are many lessons you can learn working with individuals with Special Needs that go far beyond academics or grade levels and are some important life lessons. You will usually not get that in any private setting.

    I also think it is important that if I teach in the public schools that I model to society that I have enough belief in that same system to serve my own family.
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  11. MLH

    MLH Well-Known Member

    We planned on having our kids go to public school and that is why we chose the district we did to live in. The school district is good and there's no way we could even think about paying for 3 kids in a private school. But there are a couple of charter schools around here that we could look at if we didn't want them in the public school system and I've heard great things about their schools as well.
  12. Leighann

    Leighann Well-Known Member

    Public. Our current school district is fantastic, and I love that they have free pre-k for all kids in the elementary school (the girls will start in September). But even if we move we'll keep them in public school, and the school district will be a major deciding factor for where we move.

    I went to public schools, graduated the top of my class, went to an Ivy League university and then completed my PhD at a state university. So I think I did ok for myself and my educational foundation in public school was great ;) DH went to private Catholic school from K thru college (did his PhD at a public university), but turned out to be an educated agnostic so he's not pushing his childhood experiences on our kids :D
  13. Mellizos

    Mellizos Well-Known Member

    Our kids are in 1st grade. For K, we lived near Bex in No Virginia. The public schools are top notch, so why waste money on a private school? We couldn't have gotten the same education in a private school. We are committed to bilingual, dual immersion education. I don't know private school that offer that.
    We've now moved to the southwest where the public schools have a reputation of being less than stellar. But you know what? Our kids' public school rocks. Sure, it has funding problems and may need to make further cuts because of the state's budget crisis, but we are very, very pleased. And this in a city that is 85% minority with a median income of only $32,000 and about 25% of the population below the poverty line. Additionally, the city has a significant population of immigrants and/or first-generation Americans. Despite the obstacles they face, two of the 3 local school districts were nominated this year for the Broad Prize for best urban school district.

    I think it's important to look at the specific school you are zoned for. Evaluate it based on the principal, teachers and atmosphere. You may be surprised. Then evaluate the middle/junior high school the same way. Often you may find that if you do need to consider private school, it's only for a specific segment of your kids' education, like middle school or high school.

    Lastly, remember that private schools do not have to accommodate learning disabilities. So if your child needs speech therapy or any other accommodation, public school is likely the best option. Our boys needed speech therapy in Pre-K and K, which they got in public schools.
  14. NINI H

    NINI H Well-Known Member

    I learned ALL those things in private school. My mother drove a school bus just to pay for our education to that school. Not everyone was middle class/upper class in that private school and neither was it racially exclusive. I had many good friends of different races. Our area is so international it would be very abnormal to find any place of exclusivity. They may exist but you would be hardpressed to find one. My children being homeschooled are actually exposed to a larger and more broad people base than they would be in any school. They are not with only one age group for hours per week. They spend time with people of all ages and abilities gleaning from them. There are many people who homeschool their special needs children, we have many in our group here. As to curriculum, well that is a MAJOR reason for us to homeschool. I want my children to love to learn, not pass a test. Which is pretty much what is being taught just to get federal funds here. I could go on. But there are other options than public school to get all the things you talked about.

    I think that it is admirable for any parent to want all these things for their children. But there IS more than one way of going about it. Fortunately, you have the ability to go about it the way you would like for your family. I have mine, which is not in public school nor is it in private.
    3 people like this.
  15. tinalb

    tinalb Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Our school system here is great, so we have been public schools all the way. No regrets. The kids are getting a great education & my budget isn't stretched to its very limit!
  16. LeeandJenn15

    LeeandJenn15 Well-Known Member

    The closest private school to us is ~40 miles away, so it's not really an option for us.

    However, I wanted to chime in: I went to public school most of my life, but did go to a private Catholic high school for 2 years. I felt more challenged, both academically and emotionally (in a good way), at the public school. I think, even if we had the option, we'd send our kids to public school. I much preferred public to private, even though I "fit" in better at the private school, and the people were more like me. I enjoyed being around people who weren't so much like me.

    ETA: I worry sometimes that our small school district won't offer the excellent opportunities I had going to a magnet school in the suburbs, but I am hoping to make up for it at home, as much as possible.
  17. nateandbrig

    nateandbrig Well-Known Member

    My oldest is in public and we love the school system we're in so as long as we're still living here then the little ones will be in public school as well. We do have a private school near by and if my ds has issues in HS then I've already decided to send him there. But so far so good...
  18. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    The topic was Private Vs Public. No mention of Homeschool. ( or charters for that matter- they are also an option to families)

    FWIW- I would HS if we moved to an area that happen to be in a public school area that we as a family would not attend (very few reasons- mostly due to violence or safety). As a teacher, HS is appealing and offers a lot more flexibility than public or private on curriculum and non-traditional learning styles. I think HS is great if you have a supportive community and a state that is HS friendly. I know it is a popular option for Special Needs kids and many families in our current area HS and I understand why. I also did not say private school was negative (in fact I stated that all schooling has flaws), but as I quoted a PP- it would take something really serious circumstances for us to make private schools a choice for my family and if we did I dont think I personally would be able to continue to teach in a public setting (too hypocritical).

    Each area (public, private, or HS) will have it's own 'personality' (concerning diversity, teaching styles, formats, socio-economics etc) and a family has to make a choice based on what they know given the options they have available (vs choose what they would pick if they could pick any type of schooling format).

    Things have changed since most of US (adults) have gone to school, but our own experiences influence the choices we make for our children. In *my* situation (and I know that not all private schools are like this)- the private school options in THAT area were not ethnically, religiously, or socio-economically balanced. They are still not today. That is a particular area though, I know it does not apply to 'all' situations, but I can say even with that knowledge- it colors my opinions.

    I was not trying to say that there are not other options or that one is best. I was simply stating my own experiences and why I choose Public (over private) at this time for my family. Not trying to change anyones mind or say one is better/worse -- just sharing information and personal experience. Like anything--- it is totally an independent choice that works for each family. The OP simply asked what families chose and why.
  19. jjzollman

    jjzollman Well-Known Member

    Public school. My DH and I are both public school school teachers and fully support the public school education. Does it have its flaws? Sure. However, until you are inside a classroom really seeing what is going on there, you don't realize how no matter how important those darn tests are, teachers (good teachers, creative teachers, progressive teachers, outside of the box teachers) do as much as they can with what they have, to not "teach to the test". I would have to fear for my children's safety before I would really consider putting them anywhere else besides a public school.

    Dare I say, the success of a typically developing child in school *often* depends on the value that their parents place on education and the expectations their parents have of them, not how good/bad/rich/poor any particular school is? JMHO. :tomato:
    2 people like this.
  20. akameme

    akameme Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I have no doubt there are wonderful teachers in public schools, I know I had some great ones growing up (we are even facebook friends..). But I think my concern is how we measure success. The tests offer a standardized short cut - but a short cut misses a lot.

    Did you see the Race to Nowhere? Obviously it was slanted, but it brings up some troubling trends. I got out of school just as state mandated standardized tests were taking off - so I didn't really grow up with them. My cousin has a third grader in a good GA public school, but she says after the testing is over, the last few weeks of class are just wasted. I know when I went to school the last day or two was usually classroom clean up or movies. Not the last 2-3 weeks!

    I don't really know how to fix the system. I think charter schools are great and there are some good ones in our area, the problem is admission. The last thing I want to do is pay for the next 12 years of my kids education when I pay so much in income taxes (not property since we don't own our home). And as you say Jori, it depends on the kid. I think I would do fine in a standardized environment, I think my son may need something different.
  21. NINI H

    NINI H Well-Known Member

    So because homeschool isn't mentioned, I can't give my intentions? I hope that's not what you meant. Sometimes the internet is so difficult, because you can't read tone in text. :) There is a third option that some may not even think of if it's not mentioned. All I was trying to say was there are other ways of getting all the wonderful qualities you (and the previous poster you quoted) mentioned.
  22. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Another one for public school all the way! As a teacher, I would never want to homeschool. Yes, I have the ability to do it, but I feel my kids need much more than just the academics that I would give them. They need to work in a classroom and group situation.

    Studies are currently showing that parent involvement is the most key factor in student achievement. The reason many poor areas appear to be failing is because the parents either can't or won't support the kids in their education, from food to simply making sure their homework gets done and everything in between. Yes, my 3rd graders are being "prepared for the test", but that means teaching them to be better readers and writers, knowing their multiplication facts, they are beginning division facts if they ever get to go back to school, and learning how to understand and explain how to solve math problems. Good teaching will always "teach to the test" since covering the concepts tested is part of the curriculum.
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  23. Trishandthegirls

    Trishandthegirls Well-Known Member

    I, too, am a firm believer in public education. But I'm not willing to sacrifice my children's education or safety just to uphold an ideal that no longer works. I don't have much time to write now, but did want to respond because while I think you're spot on with wanting to support public education, it's a bit idealistic to think that sending your children to public schools evidences more of a commitment to those children than carefully choosing a different alternative (be it private school or homeschooling). Of course I could make up for some of the gaps in public education for my girls, but if I have multiple private options - all of which are very diverse economically and racially, why wouldn't I spend my time supplementing a fantastic education rather than trying to pull a bad one up to mediocre?
    2 people like this.
  24. Trishandthegirls

    Trishandthegirls Well-Known Member

    Nini - let me apologize for not including homeschooling in my original post. DH and I would love love love to homeschool our kids, and are very seriously considering it, so I can't believe I forgot to include that in my list. Oooops.
  25. Utopia122

    Utopia122 Well-Known Member

    I would love for my girls to attend a private Christian school, but we just can't afford it. The cheapest we have found is around $3500 each a year. Being a teacher, I think public school does a fantastic job in educating kids and the reasons for sending them to private is not because of the quality of education, but because of the Biblical focus/teaching that they would receive as well which they do not get in a public school.
  26. rubyturquoise

    rubyturquoise Well-Known Member

    Depends on the kid. My oldest went to public school all the way through. My younger son was foundering in public school. He hit middle school and the school was huge and he was overwhelmed, and he was failing math. We put him in private school (about $8000/yr, for the OP) because the classes are very small. There are only 50 kids in his entire grade. This made all the difference for him--he is advanced in math and tutors several of his friends in pre-cal. He is not well suited to huge classes and lots of social interaction, whereas my oldest is a complete extravert who can't get enough time in the spotlight. It is a financial sacrifice, though, and I'm glad he has only one more year of school.

    The girls are in the local public school, which is a good school (for this area, but that's another post entirely). I supplemented my own public education, and I can supplement theirs as well. However, one of my girls may have some auditory processing issues, and the school isn't interested. I can teach her one on one and she understands, but she tends to tune out slow, lengthy presentations at school, and then she doesn't learn the material. If I can't get better cooperation on this issue, I will definitely consider homeschooling her--and homeschooling is a serious undertaking. I have never thought of myself as having the patience for it (hats off to teachers everywhere), but I have to consider the best interests of my child.

    I always assumed all my children would attend public school like I did, but it turns out I make decisions based on the needs of the particular child.

    eta: His school is a non-religious college-prep school. The religious private schools around here are not well-regarded educationally. DH's niece went to one and revealed they were given all the answers prior to the tests so that their averages would be high and that would impress parents of potential students.
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  27. vharrison1969

    vharrison1969 Well-Known Member

    :acute: What she said!!!

    It really depends on the child, and on the particular school. DH's parents are both retired public-school teachers, so DH feels he owes it to them to support the system, but he and I both had HORRIBLE problems in school, and neither of us want our children to go through what we did. We will absolutely start out sending our kids to public school (our local schools are pretty highly rated), but if they have issues that could be better addressed in another setting (private, charter, etc.) we will not hesitate to make a change.
  28. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    I tend to agree with Rachel to a point. I don't begrudge anyone sending their kids to private school because we all want the best for our kids, but I think it exacerbates the problem. I went to public school (and a state supported college and law school), and my kids will go to public school. We are lucky (or chose) to live in one of the best school districts in Ohio, so it's maybe not a hard decision for me. But I see no scenario in which I would send my kids to private school.
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  29. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    at this point we're planning on sending them to public school - our school district is VERY small (less than 1000 kids K-12) so it lacks some of the aspects of a bigger public school (no marching band, etc) its an average district...I graduated from it and all the private schools in this area are all religiously affiliated (mostly Catholic/Jesuit) and since I don't believe any longer, or belong to a church I won't be able to afford it (especially with me in nursing school and not working) - HOWEVER I don't know if the school will suit my son's needs...he's very technologically inclined and is also on a 2nd grade reading and math level - at 4 and a half years old...he's been reading for months now...I may wind up going the Cyber school route with him ( is a really good school) but I'll probably stick K out with him in public school to see how he does...I'm afraid he'll either be a distraction because he'll be bored or he'll drive his teachers NUTS trying to "help"

    I'm also planning on separating them for K next year because they really have different learning and social needs - Abby needs to learn and Ian needs to learn how to pay attention and behave...
  30. AimeeThomp

    AimeeThomp Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I grew up going to both public and private school. Honestly, I had a much better experience at the public school than the private school, and I still live in the same area where I grew up. However, I didn't go to a regular public school, it was a magnet for visual and performing arts. I know it would be difficult to get 2 children into that school. The public elementary school in our district is a good one and actually is 50% white 50% minorities, but after elementary school the public schools go way down and are dangerous. For that reason we will be moving before the girls reach middle school, so that we can continue to send them to public school. The suburbs all have very good school systems although we will be sacrificing having them around a more diverse student population. It will be all white kids in the suburbs. We just can't take the risk of sending them to public school in the city, and if we wanted to send them to private school I'd most definitely have to return to work to pay the tuition. Plus, the private schools are religious and I don't really want that either.
  31. ldrane

    ldrane Well-Known Member

    I would also have to agree with the pp who said it "all depends on the child". Seeing that we will face this issue in only 2 short years, DH and I have been discussing it more and more lately. I always thought my kids would go to public school. I attended both public and private schools growing up and I cannot say one was better over the other as far as education goes. For us, if we were just talking about our DD we wouldn't even think twice about sending her to public school. However, DS is a different story. I am so afraid that he will get 'lost' in a large classroom setting. Already in preschool (they only go 2 mornings a week), we are having issues with it/him. I am beginning to think it might be a telling sign about how things might go in a school setting. I never thought I would be one to homeschool, but with him I am seriously contemplating it. There is a school in the area where you send them 2 days a week and the other 3 days you do at home studies by following the set curriculum the teacher/school gives. This might be the way we go, but nothing is definite yet.
  32. maybell

    maybell Well-Known Member

    I plan on sending ours to the private church related school in my area. there are 2 to choose from, and until I visit them I don't know which one, I went to both and from what my friends say whose kids are in them currently they are both good choices. My main reason for private is for the Biblical based teaching. Both of these choices are quite diverse in both race and wealth so I like they will be getting a great mix of children/teachers to be around.

    I had 'toyed' with the idea many years ago for home schooling.. but truthfully, I'm not sure I have the temperment for it! And of course, if we don't homeschool, I'll be able to work so that would pay for the tuition.

    Tuition runs about $400/mo per child with the church discount, the general public rate is closer to $750-800/mo. yikes!

    good luck with your decision. the responses here were interesting to read.
  33. Katheros

    Katheros Well-Known Member

    I went through this debate this time last year, getting the kids ready for kindergarten. At the time, we lived in one of the worst school districts in the state. I am pro-public education as well, but not to the point where I would send my kids to this particular school. We looked into a great charter school nearby but didn't get in. We looked at the private schools in the area, which considering the area there are a LOT of private schools here. I was actually shocked at how many private schools are here, but when I started asking around pretty much anyone with a little money sent their kids to private school. (Goes back to the thought of perpetuating the problems in the public school system here.) I knew families in my neighborhood that got financial aid to send their kids to private school. But all the private schools here are religious and I do not want to send my children to a religious school.

    We finally just moved into a better public school district one county up. I find myself wishing the military base here had DOD schools, though.
  34. Aeliza

    Aeliza Well-Known Member

    We intend on going public here. For one, my county has one of the best public school systems in the nation as well. The only reason for me to go private is if the school my boys are assigned to go to are schools I don't like, then I may consider a private school, but I know the schools around here and they all grade very well. There's been a lot of school switching and tossing kids in to different schools to make up room. The growth of families with kids around here is crazy! I just hope that all irons out by the time my boys go to kindergarten. The private schools here are also very good. I can't really afford private school for both my boys, but if that ends up what we do, then we'll find a way. I don't see a problem with going with the public schools though.
  35. Mellizos

    Mellizos Well-Known Member

    We had the same kind of concerns with one of our boys. He just didn't do well in preschool. We got reports that he often threw tantrums, didn't know how to interact with the other kids, and could generally be difficult to handle. We worried about him constantly, as he was socially not at the level of his peers. But he grew and matured in those years between 3 year old preschool and starting K at 5 turning 6. He's still quiet, which is terrible when he's compared to his very outgoing, extroverted twin. But he is thriving in a large elementary school.

    I'm not saying that your son is the same as mine, just that so much change and maturation happens between 3.5 and K. He may well surprise you. And as strange as this sounds, what flipped a switch for our son was getting 3 days at preschool (they were in the same class) without his brother (who had broken his arm and had to stay home). For the first time in his life, he got friends all to himself. He wasn't compared to his brother for that little sliver of time. And he wasn't overshadowed by his brother who just makes friends easily. Even though it was only 3 days, it was the beginning of a huge change for him.
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