There, I said it.
It is interesting how the topic of public school vs. private school evokes such emotion, and I really don’t understand why. I live in a very good school district, and I chose private school for my kids. You would think that I was committing a crime or something the way some people react.
So why does my choice of school for my kids bother anyone? I don’t care if people go to private or public school at all. I think that as a parent, it is up to you to decide what is best for your child. Every child is different, every school is different, and every teacher is different. Therefore, I don’t know why any one educational system would be expected to fit the needs of every student- it is just unrealistic. If someone can afford to send their child to private school and chooses to do so, why does it make people mad? Why is it anyone’s business?
Maybe people infer that I must be a snob who thinks that only private school is good enough for my kids. I don’t know, but what I can tell you is that I am about the last person anyone would call a snob. (Unless snobs are often seen driving around in a Taurus X and are wearing shirts bought at Target 3 years ago.) I have many reasons for choosing private schools over public, and some of these reasons are listed below: (These reasons apply only to the school my children attend. I have no idea what goes on in other private schools.)
- Each child works at their own pace. If you are a great math student, you can work at the level that is best for you. If you are a remedial reader, you will get the help you need. Some kids excel in everything, and others may excel only in certain areas (maybe it is a left or right brain thing?) The kids are taught and challenged at a level that is appropriate for them in each of the subjects. Nobody is left behind and nobody is stuck waiting for the others to catch up.
- Class sizes are much smaller. For middle and high school, the average teacher/student ratio is 1:12 In grade school, when they are learning math and English, the teacher student ratio is 1:4, and classrooms have 20 students with 2 full time teachers.
- College counseling office is excellent. The school is small enough that the college counselor gets to know each child in high school and dedicates an unbelievable amount of time trying to help each child find the right college fit for them.
- Curriculum is not tied to Standardized Tests. I don’t know about where you live, but in Michigan, much of what is taught is aimed at maximizing test scores. One complaint I hear from many teachers in public school is that they cannot be very creative with what they teach because they have to spend so much time covering topics that will be on standardized tests. Our private school still does the Iowa tests in elementary school, but there is zero preparation for the test itself. It is more a baseline for parents so they have an idea of where their kids are if they are interested. I am sure it also helps teachers see areas their curriculum may be lacking. (There may be other reasons for Iowa testing that I am not aware of.)
- Sports! I hate to say it, but I do like the fact my kids attend a smaller school so they have more opportunities to actually play on sporting teams in high school. Our public high schools have graduating classes of over 500 students. My kids are all quite small, and probably wouldn’t have much of a chance to play on the public school sports teams. However, where they attend school now, they even get to start and play most of the game for all the sports they play. Athletics is not why we chose private school, but it has definitely been benefit, as I think sports can be a great way to keep kids out of trouble.
There are other reasons, but I am going to leave my list at 5.
If I could get any point across, it would be this: please do not judge people because they chose a private school for their child. There are so many circumstances to take into consideration when it comes to educating a child, and not every private school is full of snobs and rich kids. As a matter of fact, where my kids go, the population is more diverse than just about any public school I have ever seen, and about 50 percent of families receive some sort of financial aid. If you looked at the cars in the parking lot where my kids attend school and compared them to the cars at the local high school, you would think the public high school is the one with all the rich kids and snobs.
OK, I feel better now. I have to say I am tired of feeling almost ashamed that my kids attend private school. It shouldn’t be something that people feel they need to hide. It is a choice we made based on the individual personalities of each of our kids and we are lucky in that we can afford it. We are not a financial drain on society or anything, so our choice to send our kids to private school does not affect anyone else.
I am now opening the door: What are your thoughts on public school vs. private? Have you ever gotten negative reactions from people because your kids attend private school? On the flip side, if your kids are in public school, have you ever felt judged by those that send their kids to private school?