Education

Pubilc or Private: To Be or Not To Be

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011

IT’S WONDERFUL TO KNOW THAT YOU’RE SENDING YOUR KIDS TO A SCHOOL THEY LOVE, WHERE THEY SEEM TO BE THRIVING ACADEMICALLY AND SOCIALLY. I’M SURE THOSE ARE TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA YOU SOUGHT WHEN YOU SELECTED THIS SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILDREN. OF COURSE, ONCE YOUR KIDS ENROLLED, YOU LEARNED SOME OF THE MORE FRUSTRATING ASPECTS OF PRIVATE SCHOOL: LIMITED (IF ANY) TRANSPORTATION AND MEAL SERVICE, PROVIDING YOUR OWN TEXTBOOKS, ADDITIONAL FEES FOR EVERYTHING FROM SPORTS TEAMS TO CLUB FIELD TRIPS, AND MORE. AS THE PARENT OF A CHILD IN PRIVATE SCHOOL, I CAN COMMISERATE WITH YOU ABOUT THE LITANY OF ADDED EXPENSES THAT SEEM TO COME OUT OF NOWHERE.
DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE, PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION MAY OR MAY NOT BE ACCEPTABLE TO YOU. LET’S REMEMBER THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL IS NOT FREE: TAX RATES IN REGIONS WITH THE BEST PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN IN AREAS WHERE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AREN’T SO HOT.
SUFFICE IT TO SAY, IN PUBLIC SCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN MAY BE FACED WITH LESS-THAN-IDEAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. IT’S NOT AS IF THE RICH KIDS AT PRIVATE SCHOOL AREN’T SMOKING WEED AND STEALING THEIR PARENTS’ PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS. BUT ONE HAS TO BELIEVE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT IS SLIGHTLY MORE CONTROLLED THAN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, WHERE THE STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO IS 30:1, AS OPPOSED TO 12:1. THERE ARE CERTAINLY FEWER PHYSICAL ALTERCATIONS ON A PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS THAN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL. SECURITY IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
THERE IS, OF COURSE, THE DILEMMA OF WHETHER ELEMENTARY PRIVATE SCHOOL MAKES SENSE. HOWEVER, GETTING INTO PRIVATE SCHOOL LATER IS A BIG PAIN. IT’S STRESSFUL FOR A SIXTH-GRADER TO TAKE PLACEMENT TESTS AND TURN ON THE CHARM FOR MULTIPLE INTERVIEWS. SOME PARENTS ELECT TO ENROLL THEIR CHILDREN AS EARLY AS PRESCHOOL TO LOCK IN PLACEMENT IN A PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOL. ONE DRAWBACK TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS CAN BE A LIMITED CURRICULUM. SINCE PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE NOT GOVERNED BY THE STATE, THEIR CURRICULA ARE SUBJECT TO THE DIRECTION OF THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THE SCHOOL. IF IT IS A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL, AND MOST PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE, THE CURRICULUM WILL HAVE SOME CLASSES DEVOTED TO RELIGIOUS STUDIES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED TO OTHER AREAS OF STUDY WERE YOUR CHILDREN ENROLLED IN PUBLIC SCHOOL. NOT A HUGE DEAL, BUT SOMETHING YOU HAVE NO DOUBT REALIZED AND MAY THINK ABOUT AS YOU WRITE THOSE TUITION CHECKS. IF THERE IS A SUBJECT YOUR SCHOOL DOESN’T OFFER THAT YOUR CHILD REALLY WISHES TO PURSUE, IT MAY BE WORTH CONSIDERING PUBLIC EDUCATION AND ITS BROADER CLASS OFFERINGS.
ARE PRIVATE SCHOOL KIDS GETTING A BETTER EDUCATION? THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS (NCES) TESTS CHILDREN AT U.S. PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN THE 4TH, 8TH, AND 12TH GRADES. THIS TEST IS CALLED THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS (NAEP). IN ALL SUBJECT AREAS, PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENTS CONSISTENTLY OUTSCORE PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.
NEXT, I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT COLLEGE PLACEMENT. PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS BUILD THEIR REPUTATIONS ON GETTING THEIR GRADUATES INTO TOP COLLEGES. IF THEY CAN’T PREPARE THEIR STUDENTS FOR ADMISSION TO COLLEGE, THEY WON’T ATTRACT STUDENTS, I.E., YOUR MONEY. TO ATTRACT HIGH-CALIBER STUDENTS, THE TEACHERS MUST BE WORTH THEIR SALT. EVEN THOUGH PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE NOT GOVERNED BY THE STATE AND DON’T NEED TO HAVE LICENSED EDUCATORS, MOST TOP-NOTCH PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS EMPLOY TEACHERS WITH ADVANCED DEGREES. DOING SO MAKES THEM MORE ATTRACTIVE TO ADMISSIONS OFFICERS AT UNIVERSITIES. PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS ALSO HAVE MORE STAFF MEMBERS WORKING WITH FEWER STUDENTS ON COLLEGE PLACEMENT. AGAIN, THAT SMALLER RATIO WORKS IN FAVOR OF YOUR CHILDREN.
SO THE TEACHERS AT PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS, AT LEAST, LIKELY ARE MORE CREDENTIALED. STUDENTS IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS HAVE BETTER FACILITIES AND PERFORM BETTER ON THE NAEP IN ALL SUBJECTS. THE CALIBER OF THE STUDENTS IN THEIR CLASSES IS HIGHER THAN THAT OF THOSE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, RAISING THE LEVEL OF DISCUSSION AND THE PACE OF LEARNING. THEY HAVE A BETTER TEAM WORKING TO GET THEM INTO COLLEGE.
IN ADDITION, THE NETWORKING IS PHENOMENAL. I’M NOT SURE ABOUT YOU, BUT I’M STILL FRIENDLY WITH MANY OF MY HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CLASSMATES. IMAGINE IF YOUR KIDS ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO KICK IT WITH TITANS OF INDUSTRY AND NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS WHEN THEY COME HOME FOR A VISIT.
DOES THIS MEAN THAT PRIVATE SCHOOL “PAYS OFF?” IN REALITY, WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT IS WHETHER GOING THE PRIVATE ROUTE WILL ENSURE OUR CHILDREN’S SUCCESS IN COLLEGE ADMISSION, GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT, AND LIFE IN GENERAL. FRANKLY, WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO PUT US IN A NICE NURSING HOME WHEN THE TIME COMES, RIGHT?
IF YOU LIVE SOMEWHERE THAT DOESN’T HAVE FABULOUS PUBLIC SCHOOL OFFERINGS FOR YOUR CHILDREN, I THINK THE SACRIFICES YOU’RE MAKING TO SEND YOUR KIDS TO PRIVATE SCHOOL ARE WORTHWHILE. YOU’RE GIVING THEM A PHENOMENAL OPPORTUNITY TO GET INTO TOP-TIER SCHOOLS AND FORM LIFE-LONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH INTELLIGENT, HIGH-CALIBER PEERS. IT’S CERTAINLY NOT A GUARANTEE THAT THEY WON’T SCREW IT UP, BUT ALL WE AS PARENTS CAN DO IS PUT OUR GENETIC MATERIAL OUT THERE IN THE BEST ENVIRONMENT POSSIBLE, INSTILL THE VALUES WE HOPE WILL GUIDE OUR KIDS, AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH.

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