When I was growing up I always thought that private schools were for rich and fancy people. If you were just a regular, middle-class kid, you went to the nearest public school. It was that simple. I will say that I attended public schools though graduation from high school and received a fantastic education. Of course that was over 45 years ago, and things have changed. After having worked at a private school for over 16 years, my opinion about them has changed dramatically. I believe that private schools provide much that is missing from our public schools for a variety of reasons.
The decision to send your child to a private school is a difficult one to make. For one thing, a private school education is a major sacrifice financially. When you consider what a quality education for your son’s or daughter’s future is really worth, however, the sacrifices may not be so daunting. Private schools are not for everyone, but if you are considering one, here are some things to think over.
Private Schools Considerations
- Testing: Today “core curriculum standards” or “state testing” can result in teaching to the test. Schools receive funds based on how they perform, and it has become a pressure cooker situation. Students are no longer taught to think, but rather to memorize. Education should be about expanding your world, exploring, thinking creatively, innovating and collaborating. Independent schools have more freedom to create programs that encourage this broader definition of education. Most private schools do not have to teach to a test. As a result, they can focus on teaching your child how to think, as opposed to teaching what to think. Since private schools have varying curricula, parents have the option of choosing the school with the curriculum that most closely corresponds to what they wish to have their children exposed to.
- Overcrowding: Public schools tend to be huge and crowded. Classes can include 30-40 students, and some students don’t even eat during lunchtime because of the crowds. Private schools generally have smaller class sizes and a favorable student-to-teacher ratio. And yeah, this does makes a big difference.
- Shared values and culture: Most of the students at private schools share a similar vision for education. Most students are in private school because they want to learn and, secondly, the codes of conduct by which most private schools operate, are enforced.
- Parental involvement: Private schools expect parents to be actively involved in their child’s education. The three way partnership is an important part of the way most private schools work. Parents can easily contact the teachers by email or phone, and most private schools have systems to provide parents online access to their son’s or daughter’s progress.
- Balanced program: Most private schools offer a wide variety of academics, sports and extracurricular activities. Public schools are becoming less and less balanced, as many have been forced to cut extracurricular activities and art/music/elective courses that aren’t subject to standardized testing.
- Religious teaching: We all know that this is a subject that is never approached in the public school system, and this is one reason many parents choose private schools. Parents want their children exposed to the idea of what is morally right. Many private schools offer religious programs that attempt to teach young men and women to know the difference between right and wrong and instill the moral compass to choose that which is right.
- Adherence to rules: Private schools are under no obligation to keep disruptive students or those who simply cannot follow the rules. Private schools generally have a clause in their contracts stipulating that students can be dismissed for major disciplinary issues or even persistent minor issues, and in some cases, the parents forfeit whatever tuition has already been paid. This lower tolerance for misbehavior can help to reduce classroom distractions. Private schools also, for the most part, have zero tolerance for drugs and violence.
- Supervision: Since many private schools are also boarding schools, they generally have adult supervision after class hours, at night and on weekends. This round-the-clock supervision, including 24-hour medical care, provides peace of mind for parents whose students stay on campus for evening activities or return late from out-of-town school events.
The above items are just a few factors for which I believe private schools have the advantage over most public schools. A critical analysis of your child’s current public school should be undertaken to see how it measures up in these area before considering a private school. Not all public schools have the problems noted above; however, if your child is faced with these issues, you may want to consider a private school.
Learn more about private schools
San Marcos Academy was founded in 1907 and is a fully accredited college preparatory school based on Christian values and committed to providing a quality education for young men and women. For information on applying to the Academy, visit our Admissions page.