Schools, Schools, all types of Schools

December 30, 2009

Okay, heres the deal…. Last night, my parents kept the kiddos and Mike and I got to have date night. During drinks and appetizers I drove Mike crazy obsessing over schools. The conversation definitely ended in frustration. I take full responsibility. I know I am annoyingly analyzing the situation, but until I make a decision, I feel like it is hanging over my head. I feel like it is such a huge decision and a ginormous responsibility to put my children in the situation that best suits their needs and our wants as parents. Mike had the brilliant idea of putting down on paper, exactly what I want in a school. I may not find a situation that fits my every wish, but I need to know what I am willing to compromise on and what is non negotiable.  So here is me thinking out loud (and I need opinions, PLEASE let me know what you think!) ….

My wish list:

Safe enviroment

Quality Education

Small class size

Opportunity i.e. arts, music, language, sports, computer labs, community service etc

I know people disagree with me on this, but I am not a fan of all day kindergarten, in saying that… there is only one private school I know of that does not have full day kindergarten (out of all the public and private)

Teachers that want to be there (I have no idea how that can be measured!)

An environment that is creative and thriving not stagnant and monotonous

A classroom that a teacher can teach in and not just manage (ie. a class of 25 kindergarteners in which 5 have major behavior problems)

That is the jist of it.

There are 3 options for school (at least that I know of) Public, Private, Home school. I have my issues with all three.


Public- Large classrooms, teachers that can’t/don’t get fired when they probably should, No Child Left Behind (teaching to test scores), less control as a parent as to who your child is surrounded by, more behavior problems (emotional and behavior problems are not allowed to be diagnosed until 1st or 2nd grade)

Private- Surrounded by kids whose parents can send them to private school, depending on the school- it can be a public school on steroids, expensive- tuition, uniforms, all the extras, depending on the school- not the same athletic options

Home school- I personally, don’t know if I would be good at it, A LOT of togetherness, don’t get the experience of not being the center of attention, don’t get all the goodies that go along with a school (sports, arts, etc), don’t have the same opportunities to put into practice all that you have taught- tolerance, loving everyone, saying “no”, sharing, dealing with people they may not like, etc.


Public- free, larger school experience, more exposure to other cultures and families that are different from your own (actually, I am not really sure about this one…, I read an article talking about how school is one of the only institutions left that separates people based on income level, house location (which people tend to live by people that are the “same” as them), which also leads to cultural separation)

Private- more control, typically more parental involvement, smaller class size (smaller school size in general), can choose a school that teaches the same moral standards as your family, can kick people out/not accept people, by paying for school HOPEFULLY (depends on the school) you would get some of the extras that public schools are limited in now – arts, music etc, the ability to pick the school that best fits your child’s learning style

Home school- COMPLETE CONTROL over everything: who your child socializes with, what they are taught, the curriculum used, when you vacation…everything

At this point, I am leaning more towards private school but I am torn. I would love to hear thoughts and experiences from all sides!

11 Responses to “Schools, Schools, all types of Schools”

  1. bethany Says:

    SOOOOO proud of you for thinking through this major decision. After teaching in public schools for 8 years (ouch I’m old) I’ve seen the good and I’ve seen the bad. There are SOME good public schools out there, but public education is getting so tricky with NCLB and Obama doesn’t seem to concerned about changing it any time soon. My biggest gripe is that students in public schools are taught to take and pass tests – as much as absolutely hate that – I see it every single day. The more I see, the more I lean towards private education – unless you live in an amazing school district. The fact that this is a big issue for you assures that you will make the best decision for your boys! Good luck – and let me know if you have any questions – at least from the public school side=)

  2. Brandi Says:

    This is the two-minute reply I have time for (not the 30 minute reply I wish I had time for)…

    I’m a big public school fan (barring those sadly understaffed, underpaid, under-motivated staff schools). Even if your kids don’t get the best “knowledge” education, they will get an incredible opportunity to learn real world applicable social skills (those that you’ve already mentioned, plus those non-believer/believer interactions), minus the unfortunate occasional “outside of the cup” religious focus inside many Christian schools. As a believer, I want my kids to have the best chance from day one to learn to care for and handle the world, to learn to be a light, to be a witness, and to love the unloveable. I want my kids to hit the rough times where they have to learn to deal with the real world and I get to help them through it BEFORE they get to college.

    I realize I may be naively hopeful that Cass and I will be successful in parenting through the inevitable painful adventures to come, but I say, Heck, if we’ve got the Lord on our side, there’s no way we will fail completely.

    All that to say, I REALLY DO THINK that everyone has to judge what is best for their family and I do not think less of anyone who doesn’t chose what I do in this issue. I’m just pumped about our choice for our family. (I hope no one chews my ears off for this).

  3. Liz Says:

    I obsessed over when the right time to put Finn in school (his bday is August 14). Finally decided to just wait a year. My advice: Let go of total control. Realize that you cannot set up the perfect environment for your child. Eventually you just have to make a decision and stick with it and there will be negative parts to it. It is not completely up to you (or your fault) if you kid doesn’t have the perfect school experience, b/c he most definitely won’t anyway (that’s not meant to be as negative as it sounds). Good luck!

  4. Liz Says:

    ps: I vote against home schooling.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I know we’ve talked about public, private and homeschooling, but I am super proud of you for putting so much thought into this. I agree with Liz on waiting a year/giving a booster year for boys. It is becoming so mainstream that I feel that boys that aren’t given that extra year are going to feel left out for always being the youngest even if they are the smartest. One teacher put it to me this way, it is real hard to be the leader if you are smaller than or younger than your peers. I say you should make your list of top private and public schools and go visit them. Talk to the receptionist, see if she’s happy or not where she is. I think that’s a good indicator of how the teachers/staff are treated. Your instincts will kick in and will help you narrow it down. Best of luck, dear friend. I’ve been where you are and I don’t envy your frustration.

  6. Courtney Says:

    Okay, at first I wasn’t going to comment b/c I thought I don’t want to sound snobby, but after giving it a second thought I figured you wouldn’t hate me for my comments and I wanted to give a different viewpoint for you.

    I went to Union (graduated with almost 800) and my youngest sister went to private. I think we are very similar in terms of academic strength so it isn’t a stretch to compare. I look at the educational opportunities I was given at a public school and look at her educational opportunities and found it to be EXTREMELY different! Educationally she had many more classes to choose from at a higher level and it prepared her more for college than my public education (and I took almost every AP class offered at Union). My highest math choice was taken by her in her sophmore year (which gave her two higher math choices than me). So from the educational perspective you get way more bang for your buck.

    On the athletic level, I can see some downfall but if you look at Bishop Kelley and Cascia Hall (2 huge private schools) both are state champs in several sports. It isn’t 6A but still, there are some extremely talented athletes that come out of those schools and get college scholarships.

    Finally, on the cultural level/economic issue, I can see the downfall to private schools in the sense that they are stereotyped as all “rich.” You do get a handful of those, but a majority of those kids are not abusing that privilege. There is still a good mix of ethnic groups at those schools.

    If you couldn’t tell I am very pro-private schools. That may have been more than you wanted but I hope it at least gives you a different perspective.

    You will definitely make the right decision for your family and I think it is awesome you are putting so much time and consideration into it. I am exactly the same way!

  7. Carissa Says:

    A few thoughts….

    There is no such thing as PERFECT when it comes to schools. As you pointed out in your blog, there are pros and cons to every scenario. All you can do is follow your heart and I know you will make the right decision for your family.

    Also, don’t know if this will help but hopefully it will….just remember that YOU and Mike are the single biggest influence on your children and always will be. Yes, school is a huge decision…but I am confident that regardless of what you choose to do, your sons will grow up to be incredible men because they have awesome parents who influence them on a daily basis. Yes, school is important….but your influence is so much more important!

    Just wanted to give you some encouraging words becuase really, my opinion or noone else’s opinion matters. It is your mother’s heart that matters. And you will make the right choice for your son. Noone else can.

    Love you.

  8. Heidi Says:

    Well, you already know where I stand on this. You make very good points. But one never knows if one will be good at something until one tries it, so that to me is not a reason to avoid homeschool. Deciding to homeschool does not require any time commitment…you can always change your mind as the situation reveals itself as working or not. (Though I would give it a full year to work out any kinks before you really decide.) If you spend tuition money on curriculum and coops, private lessons, etc., you’ll still likely come out ahead financially. As far as a cultural experience, you can take your kids ANYWHERE you want, and learn culture in real time, not “americanized” culture. But, homeschool is not for everyone. It’s becoming popular fast, but it still carries its stigma. And, truthfully, it’s not easy every day. But it is meaningful. I struggled too, with the decision! Good luck!

  9. Cori Says:

    I LOVE all the comments and different opinions… I wish we could all get together and talk in person!

    Bethany- Thank you so much for all your help and advice. I love to hear your experience as a teacher!

    Brandi- I totally understand where you are coming from. I think each parent has to judge to capability of each child. I will say though, the spiritual side of things is actually a very low priority on school search and I am looking at a couple of private schools that are not religious… Your kids will do awesome!

    Liz- I totally agree with your decision to wait to start school. Scott is August 10 and he won’t start kindergarten until 2011. So many choices and this is only the beginning!

    Sarah- Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement. I got your post about the Ben Stein movie and I am going to find it!

    Courtney- I don’t think you sound snobby at all. AND not all private schools are snobby. There are a lot of parents that make a lot of sacrifices to send their kids where they believe will be best.

    Carissa- You are always so supportive. I love hashing thing out with you!

    Heidi- Thank you for all your help and sharing your knowledge with me! Your kids are lucky to have you as a mom.

  10. Faith Says:

    I don’t vote for what I think you should do, because I don’t know you or your kids or your situation. No school experience is going to be perfect, and any of the options has the potential to be wonderful.

    We home school because it is what works best for our family. If you are interested in that option, I would be willing to share my experiences with you. I’ve been home schooling for 3 years, and am currently teaching my oldest two girls. (

    You never know what option is going to work until you try it. Best of luck making this huge decision, and don’t worry if you have to re-make it for the next kid who has different strengths & weaknesses.

  11. […] such a sense of relief to know that everything is taken care of. I mean, as you know I have been obsessing for over a year. I really feel like we made the best decision for Scott and for our family. I think […]

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