Education


Yesterday, my son showed me a paper he’d written on private versus public schools. It was a good paper, although he didn’t really make his case. We had a bit of a discussion on the topic.

I myself attended a private school, way back in kindergarten, and a parochial school through elementary. I’ve also gone to private colleges. My husband, on the other hand, received his education through the public schools, as did his kids up until college.

My parents, my dad in particular, was a big proponent of private schools. I’m not sure why, he never shared that with me, but he was raised and lived all his life here in St. Louis, where we have many, many private and parochial schools. We also have rather excellent public districts.

When my daughter began her education, she was enrolled in public school simply because there were no private or parochial ones closer than a 45-minute drive. I was not fond of the policies of that district, to put it mildly.

To begin, they “recommended” that she be held back a year, because her birthday fell a whole three weeks after the age cut-off date; I countered with a response that they could then continue to pay her day care costs, because as a single parent I had to work.

Then there were the “projects”. Every week, sometimes twice, the school sent home a project for the family to do together. Well, there were just two in our family, except for the baby, and a single mom I simply didn’t have time to do these; pretty worthless projects too, like coloring and cutting for a so-called math exercise. My daughter was quite capable of doing these things on her own, but half the time I simply forgot about them.

I mean, seriously, special projects every week for kindergartners? Aren’t they doing anything in school itself? Are we trying to kill the excitement of school in the first year?

Now, this was a very progressive district – so advanced, in fact, that they didn’t believe in teaching kids how to spell or punctuate. The figured the latter would just come naturally, or some such b.s., and as for spelling – kids were taught, as a matter of course, to “just spell it how you THINK it should be spelled”.

Nothing was ever counted off, or considered a “mistake” or “error”. Puh-lease. My daughter still isn’t the best speller.

No phonics, no basic math skills; not sure exactly what was accomplished there, but in fifth grade we sent her to parochial school. To say she was overwhelmed by the amount of homework and studying would be a serious understatement; to say she was behind the rest of the class would be putting it very mildly.

My son has gone to parochial, public, and private. I will state, absolutely, that the best education was to be had at the parochial and private institutions. Why? Well, my son will say there is no difference; he states as reasons that teachers are usually paid the same, and that there is the same amount of violence and negative influences. He didn’t address the quality of the education, because he seemed to equate that with teacher performance and, therefore, pay. Pay scales, however, don’t vary significantly between the types of schools; teacher pay is seldom based on quality, but often on longevity.

Ironically enough, it is the government which insists our students are falling behind; this in turn suggests that are receiving a poor education. Yet, it’s also our government which gives public school teachers impossible goals and a plethora of ideas to incorporate in the curriculum – these are supposed to “improve” education.

Seems to me there isn’t time in the day for those old stand-by courses: reading, writing, and arithmetic. And, in the meantime, the child-raising “experts” are insisting that our children be signed-up for every extracurricular activity imaginable, 24/7. And, of course, if we parents don’t do this, we are failures.

How about letting public educators actually teach the kids? Like the private school teachers do – without governmental interference. Period. If you can say one thing about all teachers – they aren’t in it for the money. They want to teach. The quality of education is enhanced in the private specter simply because of lack of government intrusion.

Violence and negative influences are certainly not the province of only public schools; however, public schools are usually larger and therefore may have a larger proportion of “bad” kids. As anyone who watches the news knows, bad stuff is reported much more frequently than good.

Furthermore, private schools have the luxury of tossing those kids out on their fannies, without going through all the politically correct red-tape that public institutions must follow. Three strikes (or two) and you’re out. Period. In public schools, the administration frequently discusses, holds hands, and attempts to “understand” – much like modern parenting, come to think of it – long before any action is taken.

Not to mention, and I may get slammed for this, but parents who shell out big bucks for private school tuition may be a little more invested in their child’s education. That is NOT to say that those who send their kids to public school aren’t invested or don’t care, but simply that, for some folks, taking a hit in the wallet can inspire them to keep on top of things.

Public or private, the choice is an individual one. For myself, the more the government stays out of the picture, the better for everyone. As long as I can afford private, that’s where my kids will go; in spite of very good public schools. Public schools cannot offer choice anymore, they can’t offer individualism or certainly much common sense either. And until that changes, if it ever does, I’d rather pay for my kids’ education.

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