Thursday, February 18, 2010

Public Schools vs. Private Schools in USA

This topic is a never ending debate I guess.

We have a 3 yr old who currently goes to a daycare center which has pre-school and kindergarten too. We are in the process of deciding whether we need to send him to a private school (from Pre-school till 12th grade) so that he can continue till 12th grade in the same school. Even though we live in an excellent school district, we still want to look at all the options that private schools provide.

I would like to hear real-life experiences from moms across the country and that’s the reason why Iam posting it here. It would be great if you can post some words on the following :-
  • Why did you chose a private school for your kid/kids ?
  • What was the criteria in selecting that school ?
  • If you had switched your kids from public to private or private to public at some point during their school years, why ?
I do know that the most important factor is to make sure what’s right for my child and not just depend on hearsay or others opinions, but I think experiences from fellow desi moms would really help me in making this decision.


utbtkids said...

Kavitha we live in a okay, nothing spectacular, school district. My kids five years and almost four go to a pvt Montessori. I work there as well. So what started as easy pick up and drop off logistics has worked out really well for us. My five year old will be in Kinder next year and I want her to finish it in the same Montessori, the last year of the 3-6 yr cycle is very important to me.
But after that, what we do is a big question.

My husband wants me to look in to other schools, specifically public schools.

I am hesitating because I am in love with Montessori. But, a school can only be as good as it's teachers. I am fully aware that irrespective of the philosophy the child's potential and the teacher's nurturing ability can do wonders.

But the school we are in right now is a dream school. We are so diverse, so true to it's name One World, has been around for 30 years, we are a green school. The kids garden, recycle, compost, celebrate the earth, meditate and have peace lessons. My five old is achieving her academic milestones, no concerns. I would hate to leave it.

The point I am trying to make at the end of this lengthy monolgue is as a teacher it is the school and your kid's teacher. If it is public or private, or if it has this great philosophy, does not matter.

My simple rule is to make a visit and go with my gut.
The teacher has to support diversity and not expect the child to be always catching up.

Asha said...

If you live in good neighborhood, in a good Public school area, don't see why not send your child to there. We send our kids to one of the poorest area school and my daughter did very well there and in UNC-CH now. Teachers are excellent, her Biology teacher is a retired Surgeon and most teachers have masters degrees. My son is going to the same school now, doing well with great friends.So it depends on where you live. When kids go to the same school in your neighborhood, they develop great friendships and help eachother as they grow,

But of course, choice is your's as parents. Kids will adjust anywhere. If you like the same school she is in, she might as well continue. Private schools teachers(as I know here in my city) don't have qualified degrees and I have seen kids struggle in High school with no AP teachers, got to get private tutoring and or study with some other kids who are good at that subject. Private schools can be very expensive as the kids grow to higher classes too.
Not so in Public schools.Not only they have AP teachers, they help out the kids personally and after school tutoring is always free everyday if you want to stay and learn, just have to ask for help if the kids need since there are too many kids in the class who are not really interested in asking for help.Teachers like kids who wants to achieve and help a lot.

My 2 cents by personal experience, every city and situation differs. Public schools can be very good for kids. Changing from private to public schools later could pose a problem and vice versa.

Good luck. I can understand your apprehension. My son is in 9th grade, glad we put both kids into public schools which turning out well for us since our kids make good choices usually! :)

Mick & Zabee said...

I live in Toronto and I have started researching schooling options for my son, who will start school in 1.5 years. I like the new "altenative school" concept, which allow parents to have active participation in their kids education. The good thing is that these schools emphasize the value of small class size, close relationships between students and teachers, and a sense of community. Toronto now has several alternative schools and I think it would be worth looking into.

Kavitha said...

@utbtkids - I have read your post about "picking a preschool" in your blog, it was very informative. Is there a specific reason why you say that 3-6 yr cycle is important ?
I cant agree more - "go with your gut"

@Asha - Glad that public schools have worked out well for your son and daughter. Arent the class sizes in public schools really big, will all students get equal attention from their teachers ? I read the same thing too - that private school teachers neednt be certified but public school teachers should be. Thanks for your valuable input.

@Mick & Zabee - thanks for your response, I havent explored much into alternative schools, will do so.

utbtkids said...

Kavitha, its just Montessori goes in steps of three, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and so on. So it is essential to stay for the whole three year cycle in order to get the benefit. Also at age six is when the child gets to be the oldest in the classroom and the benefits of being the guide to the younger children, teacher's helper kind of things boosts the child's confidence.

mettlus said...

Apart from a very informative point made that private school teachers need not be certified reasons to go to private school are:

1. Strict discipline
2. Better crowd
3. Teachers/students ratio,classroom size
4. Better performance

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MahaVishnu said...

I live in MA and my child is finishing 5th grade in a public school. I am extremely happy with the Public school system in our town/ state. My son's class never had more than 19 kids per class with most of the classes having an assistant or aide. He gets to be a true international student because of the kids he interacts with - from all cultures and regions and socio economic backgrounds. The teachers are phenomenal and are here because they want to be here. My son also recieves services as part of the 'Gifted and Talented' community which helped him understand his strengths better and cope with his shortcomings. In his 6 years in the elementary school he has met various authors, artists, and activists which made an impact on him - and he is definitely richer for that experience. Most public schools these days have a 'green' initiative and our school is no different. The kids participated the yearly Math League competitions and WordMasters starting in third grade. They also participate in in various Robotics competitions and ballroom dancing competitions alike.At all these competitions I've never seen kids from private schools.
In my opinion, public school education is a great asset to us and I didn't have to pay an extra dollar ( apart from my town taxes) for all the wonderful privilages my son enjoys.

GettingThereNow said...

My older daughter has been going to a public school since Kindergarten and is in 6th grade (middle school) now. While it largely depends on the kind of school district you live in, I am mostly pro-public schools. My reasons?

The child gets to interact with kids from all walks of life. That is a good life lesson, I believe.

In our experience, and gathering from a friend's experiences who sent her kids to private school then transferred them to public schools - public schools here (Norwalk, CT) are far better than the one private school we have. Strings (Violin, guitar, cello) lessons are free for the public school kids, music, gym are all free. My friend had to pay for everything at the private school.

The student to teacher ratio at my daughter's school was 22 to 2 (teacher and aide) while it was about 30 to one at the private school.

Public schools are bound by the district's zero tolerance policy for bullying while the private school administrators set their own policies which were very unsatisfactory. Many parents pulled their kids out just because of that.

Of course, this is just ONE private school I have seen and I am sure most private schools must be better than this one. But all in all, our experience with public schools has been great - our daughter is thriving there.

GettingThereNow said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that our school district is just "so so" and not really extra-ordinary.

mettlus said...

You are lucky if you live in a good School District..No doubt!!!

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姿英姿英 said...

喔!最悲慘的事並非夭折早逝,而是當我活到七十五歲,卻發現自己從未真正活過。 ..................................................

Muskaan said...

I am a public school teacher, have been teaching Chemistry in the US for past 9 years. Have debated a lot for my daughters education. Ended up sending my girls to public schools (though I did buy a house in the best school district in Minnesota for that). Here are some things to be aware of:
1. Yes, public school teachers are more qualified and better paid (i.e. more content??)
2. Public schools have better facilities like computer labs, music programs etc due to federal dollars.
3. Class sizes are almost similar.
4. It is a myth that private schools do not have discipline issues. Additionally, as your child grows up and is high achieving, he/she will end up going to courses with the best students in them, so getting rid of the discipline issue problem.
5. Look at National Merit Scholarship winners list - equal number of students from public schools make it, if not more. My daughter is one of them.
6. Private school counselors will not inform you of programs that might make you pull the kid out, like post-secondary options paid by the state, if your kid finishes credits early.
7. Some private schools are religion based and I do not feel comfortable with that.
I decided to keep my hard-earned money for my family instead of paying the private school and do not have any regrets.