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The Education Debate

Public, Private or Homeschool?

by Yes, Mommy has to work today  |  2515 views  |  7 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Without a doubt, educating our children is one of the most important undertakings parents must embark upon. That said, we do not believe there is any one right way to educate. What is right for one family may not be right for their neighbor. The choices we make in education do not a good or bad parent make.

We have chosen public education for our five kids. Was this an easy decision? One we made without looking at all of our options? One made without evaluating and seriously considering the impact this would make on our children? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “No!”

Many of the reasons for choosing a method of education are quite personal. We do believe in supporting our public schools. It is also a factor that we pay taxes for public schools and the financial burden of private education would be difficult to manage with our large family. It is also our strong belief that if involved parents continue to rip their children from the public education system -- we all stand to lose a lot. Our children learn diversity, they learn personal responsibility, they learn to stand on their own in addition to the basics. These opportunities are no less important to our family than learning to read and write. Our children must learn to not only cope, but thrive in this world. That is our PRIMARY responsibility as parents. This can occur even in a public school setting.

You may wonder why we don’t homeschool. It doesn’t carry the financial burden of private education. It is my firm belief that homeschooling can be beautiful and work very well for some families, yet it isn’t the answer for every family. There are days when I want to homeschool with every fiber of my being, but those days are outweighed by the positive things I see in my children from their school experience. I majored in Education and would be one of those moms who could make homeschooling not only work, but turn it into a fun and enriching experience for our children and myself. I don’t feel we have been called to homeschool our family, at least not at this point in our lives.

Recently, we attended a parenting conference that reinforced our belief that public education was the right choice for our children. We also brought home a book which we are reading and re-reading -- GoingPublic, by David and Kelli Pritchard. There is a quote I will use for the rest of my life found on page 21: “Yes! We definitely homeschool our children ... and starting at age 5, we also send them to public school to get more information.”

Isn’t that the truth? Education starts at home. The most prominent impact on the lives of our children are the things that happen within the walls of our home. These are the forming factors that will develop our children into the adults they are destined to become. What I do as a parent CANNOT be diminished by a public education. It can be enhanced. My children can learn that not every family is like ours and that’s okay. They can learn to reach out to those who are hurting… to the bullies and troubled children and show them love and respect. It is our firm believe that our children will prosper in this environment. They will become stronger in their faith as it is challenged, they will learn to respect diversity, they will learn about forgiveness and hospitality.

7 comments so far...

  • Our family has utilized both public schools and homeschooling. When they were in the public schools (the first six years were in our public schools) I was a SAHM and was able to volunteer many hours a week - my favorite was helping the younger kids with their reading!

    As my boys got older, our district phased out their "gifted" program and my oldest son was not challenged academically. I also did not like that our school was 98% white. I grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended very diverse public schools. I wanted a similar experience for my boys (without moving back to Chicago - we are in the south suburbs).

    We began homeschooling when our oldest was in 4th grade. We joined a rather large (100+ families) homeschool group that had many different kinds of people and oodles of activities and classes.

    Now, we are sort of back to the public school scene, with the oldest two attending the community college. My youngest will start there part time in the fall.

    It's been a good experience. My kids have been exposed to a lot of different people, ideas, courses, experiences.

    No matter, as someone else posted, it is not really important where your kids go to school - the important thing is staying involved with your kids.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Karen on 25th April 2008

  • I think public is definitely the way to go when the schools are good, the kids get so much more than the 3 Rs. I really struggled with the decision to go to a private school because my taxes pay for the public schools but in the end the schools in our area just didn't measure up.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mommydee on 21st April 2008

  • We also started in private schools... but switched to public when formal education started (kindergarten). Thanks for sharing your stories! I am checking out the power of success now. :)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Yes, Mommy has to work today on 21st April 2008

  • Jamie this is a wonderful piece. Kudos. I also had this dilemma just last year. Our two oldest (11& 8 yrs) just started public school this year after being in a Christian private school for over 4 years.

    After debating the pros and cons of the academic vs. the socializing benefits of private vs. public school, my husband and I realized that our children were missing a critical component of diversity that only a good public school education could offer.

    The concepts you mentioned about personal responsibility, standing on one's one, diversity, humility, coping with others who are diff't, etc... are all things my children are learning to do better from their public school experience.

    We also learned the hard way that a private school education is not necessarily better than a public school education especially if you live on a community where the public schools already have a great reputation.

    When we first moved to our area six years ago I was convinced that private school education was better and I followed my ideals even though we kept hearing great things about the public schools here. When we realized our children weren't getting foreign languages, computers, economics, music,etc... We realized they weren't being prepared adequately enough to compete in a world economy. We realized our money for private school wasn't being well spent as they weren't getting exposure to these subjects in enough time or depth as to prepare them enough to compete with other children their age who were attending schools that offered these extra things. When we discussed our concerns with the principal at the private school we were told that they had the discretion to pick and choose where they funds were spent. We also found out that they cut corners in spending on the school nurse (something not done in the public school). This was a problem as my daughter was not getting her asthma meds in a timely manner. This was not the case in the public schools here who had a full time nurse on staff. Another good sign of our tax dollars at work.

    We did further research of the public schools here and talked with the local public school Curriculum Director and boy was she a wealth of information. She was so knowledgeable about the public and private schools in our area that we were convinced it was better to switch them to public school to get these subjects that weren't being offered in any of the popular Christian or Catholic schools in our area. There went another preconceived notion about pubic school vs. private school right out the window.

    Also, we live in a NJ town where our taxes are very high and alot of the taxes go towards the schools. So again, through legitimate research we found it was true that our tax dollars (as you mentioned) were going towards good public schools. As you can imagine it didn't make much sense when we learned that the public school kids were getting more (and in some cases) better education than we were paying for in private school education (just to keep our children "safe" from the public school element we thought existed - but really turns out didn't.) Now there is also a slight drawback, but we're adjusting to that element in positive ways. As you mentioned our kids must face diversity (in faith, etc...) with hope, and diligence which builds character (something you can't buy in private school.)

    We learned a big lesson here to say the least.

    Now, I don't proclaim that what we did is right for every parent in every community b/c it's not. In some areas the public schools are not good and it's better to go private or home school. Every parent must make up their own mind, you're right. But, what I do suggest from my experience is that parents shouldn't over- look the public schools in their area if they have a great reputation. Check into it and compare it with what the private schools are offering. You might be just as surprised as we were that your tax monies ARE being well spent in your local public schools.

    And lastly, my daughter has gotten more awards and attention for her writing and school work in this school than she ever did in the private school. So, to me that says something about my decision - and her work. Her self-esteeem has been lifted and her confidence. That's something you can't pay for in private school.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by caramelsugarberry38 on 21st April 2008

  • I love this article. You are right on the money that we as parents have to share responsibility with the school system in educating our children.

    I've recently found something that goes beyond the typical parent/student educational bond, that you may be interested in.

    Check out www.PowerOfSuccessForKids.com

    If this interests you and you'd like to learn more, give me a call at 603-664-3553.

    To your children's success!
    Kara Jankowski

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kara Jankowski on 21st April 2008

  • Our oldest daughter is in Pre K right now and it's in a local Catholic school (we're not Catholic). It has been a pretty big financial burden but we have been seriously impressed with their programs and dedication to the kids.
    We move prior to her starting and the local public school had really low test scores and high student/teacher ratio. The house we bought is a block away from the Catholic school and now that we've seen what they have to offer, I can't imagine changing schools. My youngest will be eligible for their 3 year old program this fall and we've already enrolled her. Thankfully PA offers some financial aid for parents who chose private schools and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll qualify.

    It's such a tough decision and I personally think public schools can be great but when it came down to our situation I felt so much more comfortable with the private school choice. Regardless of what choice you make: private, homeschool or public, a parents involvement and reinforcement of what they are learning is key in raising educated and well adjusted kids.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mommydee on 19th April 2008

  • My children are currently in the first few years of their public educational experience. Things have been going well but not without controversy. Many parents have either switched schools or begun homeschooling but we have kept ours right where they are. My WAHM status has afforded me the ability to volunteer in the classroom and has given me the opportunity to work with the educators to change what it not working based on lack of results.
    Each week I read the local paper arrest reports involving the high school and have begun to think about on-line education options for our kids. In the end I believe being involved on all levels is the only solution to ensure our kids get the education required to be successful in the world.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Blarney on 18th April 2008

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