Saturday, August 05, 2006
Public or Private?
I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine (to be referred to as Darla) this morning. Let me provide some background before I go any further.
Oronzo got to know Darla before I did, through a library story time group. When he came home and told me that he'd met a single mom who had adopted her son (to be referred to as Jordan), I was excited! This was the first adoptive family we'd met in town and we hadn't even had to join an adoptive play group to accomplish this.
I made a point to get to know Darla and her son, Jordan, by inviting them to our house for play dates and arranging play dates at other places. Now, we interact with her and Jordan on a regular basis. She's a great woman and her son is adorable, he's just a few months older than Snuggle Bug. We have every intention of raising the boys to be long-time friends.
Darla adopted Jordan through the State and she's been very willing to answer my questions as I ponder the idea of one day adopting through the State myself. But, that's a discussion for another post.
This morning, we were with Darla and Jordan, taking the boys horseback riding at a nearby stable. While we were there, she excitedly told us about a private school she'd found out about that she was going to investigate further. She told us what she knew; you could enroll your child as early as 3 years old (part time or full time, it's your choice at that young age), it was pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, tuition was $3,000-$5,000 per year, and they boasted an unstructured learning environment that focused on an approach of play and creativity to learn. She thought it sounded fantastic and admitted that she didn't like the rigid structure of public school and had no intention of enrolling Jordan in public school.
We listened to what she was sharing, asking questions along the way, but making no commitments when she encouraged us to check out this school with her. At some point we'll have to share with her how we feel about public vs. private, but that didn't seem the right time with the horse riding activities going on.
So, how do we feel about public vs. private, you might ask?
Well, let me start off by saying we intend to enroll Snuggle Bug in a public elementary school. There’s one that’s only a few blocks from our house. We're told that it's currently rated in the top 5 elementary schools in our city. I'm not really sure what the ranking criteria are, but it sounds good. Not only that, but the grade school and the high school are also walking/biking distance from our house and they are touted as excellent within the school system.
But it's not just the convenient locations or the excellent rankings that are compelling us to send Snuggle Bug to public school, although those are important factors, it's probably most of all our own personal experiences that are motivating us.
I went to public school for my entire school career and had a pretty good experience. My teachers were approachable. They cared about their students. They were passionate about their subjects. They were more than willing to help any student that asked for it. I feel as though I got a well-rounded education that adequately prepared me for college. There were not a lot of drugs or violence in our schools and what little was there I managed to avoid without much effort.
Oronzo, on the other hand, was shipped off to a private boarding school in another state. He felt abandoned, isolated, and miserable in the beginning. Eventually he made friends and adjusted well enough, but overall he didn't appreciate private school life. In fact, his dyslexia was undiagnosed throughout grade school and high school, despite the fact that smaller classroom environments were offered in this private school. It wasn't until he got into college and a girlfriend recognized what was going on that he was diagnosed and received assistance. Up until then, he simply struggled painfully with his studies and had to deal with his father's frustration that he wasn't getting higher grades. Oh, and drugs were quite rampant in that small private school.
As a result of our personal experiences, we both agree that we want to give public school a try. We're firm believers that you get out of a situation what you put into it. We want Snuggle Bug's public school experience to be as positive as possible so we intend to be those annoyingly involved parents who volunteer time in the classroom as a classroom attendant, go to every extracurricular activity practice & game that Snuggle Bug is involved in, and volunteer in other ways as well. We're also firm believers that we have a responsibility at home to mold our child's value system, support him in his education, and help build his confidence level. I don't want to leave that all to a school, public or private, to handle.
Perhaps we're naive in our views because we haven't had a child in school yet, but we're saddened to hear some of our friends who feel that public school isn't good enough for their child. These parents are not even willing to give the public school system a chance. Is the public school system really so inadequate and evil in this day and age? Is there no redeeming quality to public school?
I'm interested to know, are you sending your child to public or private school? Maybe you're doing neither and you've decided to do home schooling. Whatever your decision, what led you to that decision and how's it going so far (if your child is old enough to be in school)?