School choices are not always on the menu for parents. Depending on the many factors of the family make-up, many if not most kids find them having to survive the academic years without any advantages from the starting line. They will have to succeed with their intelligence and home support systems.
Today is the first of a series that I will address on this very important topic. There is just too much information to contain the information needed to optimize your child’s success. Therefore this will be followed up in 2 more posts. Today I will intro some pros and cons.
As a former educator in the private school sector, I can validate only through what I have witnessed, the pros and cons of different educational environments. How can I evaluate the public schools and home school education, only by the performance evaluations, testing records, and testimony of those that came from those sectors to our private institution? I was a part of the admissions department for a time that would interview families and students prior to enrollment. Due to this, you may surmise that I would have more negative things to say about those environments due to the fact that those I encountered were seeking to move to private education. This is not in itself true.
I grew up as a product of the public education system. My kids all began their academic careers in the same. In hindsight, I would only say that 1 of my children “needed” a private school education. The other 2, while they did see benefits, could have succeeded just as easily in a public school setting, and in some areas, more so than their private school could provide.
When you are evaluating schools, the first thing that you need to do is to assess your options. Before you move to the evaluation of your child’s needs, explore if there are ways that you could increase those options. I could not afford a private education for my kids. However, many private schools offer discounts if not free tuition for the children of employees. This was the route that I took once my kids were through elementary school. We did not have the education background, connections, or the financial means to choose to homeschool. Therefore, at that time, we only saw 3 options. 1. The local school 2. Moving to a district of a school that may have a better reputation, or 3. Private education.
Knowing your options, you then must assess your child’s needs. This is not only academic but social in nature as well. My oldest child was a loner. He was not big for his age and had struggled with bullies in elementary school and the beginning of Middle School. Being able to provide him with an alternative was a true blessing. In a more controlled environment and a smaller student/teacher ratio, he was able to flourish.
My younger two were more social, street smart, and made friends easily. They desired to attend our private school because they liked the environment. A smaller population allowed them to stand out in many ways that public schools may not share the limelight. For organizational and sporting activities this held true. However, when it came to their overall class rank, it hurt them. Let me be specif as to how that works.
One of your child’s measurement of collegiate opportunity is their grades. However, the other aspect is how they compare with the performance of others. Public education in the United States is free. We must offer it regardless of a child’s abilities, resources, or even behavior (within certain limits). Due to this fact, the number of kids that attend public schools vs. private schools, this makes public school ranking far less competitive. It is much easier to rank in the top quarter or even the top 10%. Thus, these students have an advantage over private school students, where the majority will attend college, and the margin of competition is much closer due to the lack of numbers.
Let me state clearly that I have changed my position on the mandatory college way of thinking. For the longest time, I associated college with success. In itself, this statement just is not true. Many people without a college degree have more success than that of graduates. A degree does not mandate that you are smarter, more skilled, or are more financially secure in the future. Depending on the field that you pursue, it serves as a notch in your belt but means nothing about your character, or what kind of an employee that you will be. The important thing is to discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Explore together what options and directions. You cannot “make them” achieve goals. You can, however, walk with them. Be the best dad possible.
Stay tuned for part 2