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Private vs. Public High Schools
Hi, Could parents who decided to send their children to private high schools share opinions on this issue? My daughter has been in private schools since K. Some of the parents we know are planning to send their kids to public high schools. One reason is that public high school is a way of preparing kids for real life (more diversity, larger school environment, more community-focused, better opportunities to learn survival skills and learn to be independent, more academic/sport options, etc.) Since I'm leaning toward private high schools, I'm wondering -- why would life in private high schools not be as real? Do you think private high schools prepare students well for real life issues? I'm referring to issues such as how to make friends with people from different background/ethnicity, how to be independent, responsible, and resourceful enough to survive in college and beyond, how to be actively involved in the community, how to live life with compassion, generosity, etc. Would my kid miss any major life lessons if she attends a private high school instead of a public one? My husband and I expect to continue to teach my kid how to behave and to be good role models for her, of course. The private high schools in consideration are CPS, Bentley, and St. Mary's. Thank you very much. Anonymous
Investing in private schools through high school worked well for both of our daughters--they were both supremely prepared for college. The high schools (one of them is on your list) provided opportunities in many dimensions. All of the items you listed were available to them (diverse friend base, being independent, ability to take initiative, contributing to the community, many alternate activities and interests to explore, and more). Life lessons abound in private as well as in pubic schools. Another thought--if the state budget will result in a larger number of students in public school classes, then that is a factor. anon
You need to make your own decisions. Since your daughter is approaching high school, include her input too. Keep in mind that often a decision based on ''where my friends are going'' doesn't really work out, because they are rarely placed in the same classes - even in small private schools.
I recommend The Athenian School in Danville for consideration. Many people think it is ''too far to travel'' but the program and curriculum are so outstanding an extra 20 min or 30 min commute may be well worth it. Get your calendar out and plan some visits. Many of the schools have parent open houses way before students need to visit. Each school has its own educational philosophy, culture, and set of outcomes. Really look at the range of classes offered. Do they grade mainly on exams, or projects, or a combination? What learning styles are recognized and nourished?
Take your daughter to as many of these events as she has time for and schedule a campus visit for her as early as possible - these visits fill up fast, and you have to space them out so she does not miss too much school in one month. Go on unguided visits to campuses now.
Most of all do you have the cash to afford 4 years in a private high school and still have money for college? Many people do not. So Public HS means there are funds for college. Private HS tuition is very close to UC college tuition. Scholarships to Private HS are very rare, and college scholarships are disappearing. Relying on loans can really take your finances down, especially if you already have debt.
Having to withdraw from High School in the middle is more unsettling that starting out together as freshmen. I think all schools are going to be under stress in these times. Public schools are going to be taking even deeper cuts, it will be very hard to predict exactly how that will all fall out.
We made the choice to do with less ourselves and put our daughter in private schools through HS. She received a great education. Very competitive colleges accepted her, but she made the choice to go to a UC. She is looking to go to a private school for grad school. But she is in college doing well, and getting ready for grad school. BTW the UC system even with its financial stresses has been excellent. Sign me as: private school supporter Private HS Supporter
I haven't seen any private schools in California that compare to that school. The closest in style and opportunity would be Berkeley High. We sent both our kids to public schools because we wanted to save for college, and also because we felt we could fill in any gaps in what they received - for us in particular that was international travel, camping and wilderness experiences, occasional private tutoring, and private music lessons. We also have volunteered at their schools and made donations to the schools wherever possible. Public schools can be uneven in the quality of teachers, and rather rigid in their bureaucratic requirements, but my kids have had some extraordinarily good teachers and really good teaching in a variety of subjects. My daughter, now in college, looks back in astonishment at all she achieved in high school. Both kids are pretty confident in all sorts of situations. For them, I think we made the right choice. Berkeley High parent
We decided to send our son to College Preparatory School, where he is thriving. CPS is 40% students of color. More than 25% of the students receive financial aid. The average grant for those students is $19,000 (on tuition of $29,950). CPS will distribute more than $1.7 million in financial aid in 2009-2010. Community service is important to us, and it is an integral part of the schoolC",b"s culture (http://www.college-prep.org/Program/community_service). It includes maintenance of an Oakland playground, bi-weekly preparation and serving of a meal at the Berkeley MenC",b"s Shelter, and academic enrichment for underprivileged students from Oakland public schools (http://www.college-prep.org/Program/partners/partners-brochure-05.pdf/view). DC
Are Private schools really better? What are the pros and cons? For the first time I am considering sending my 8th grade daughter to a private high school. I am concerned about the environment at their public middle/high school more than anything. But people tell me it's the same at private schools. There are just as much rowdiness, drugs and sexual activity at private schools, and that's just the way kids are these days .. everywhere. Here are a few examples of why I am concerned: last week my 6th grade daughter said some students in her class pulled a condom out of its cover and started messing around with it. Yesterday my 6th grade daughter said she was admiring someone's backpack and the girl turned around and said ''what are you looking at B-tch?'', apparently they call each other this in regular conversation. At the high school, they found human feces in the vending machine. My daughters do not use the restrooms at school because of the conditions, everything is everywhere except in the toilet. This is supposed to be the best school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District with the highest test scores. Even my 3rd grade daughter said a classmate got in trouble for using the B-tch word and I have seen 3rd and 4th graders dancing in extremely sexually provocative moves and postures. Is it just me, is this how all kids behave these days, am I just ignorant and have my head buried in the sand? I find the rowdiness and disrespect that kids display disturbing. When I go to my daughters' middle school, I feel intimidated by the kids because of the way they behave (I haven't ventured over to the high school). My daughters are straight A honor roll students in the GATE program. Academically, I think they would do OK in the public school, but should they have to put up with this kind of environment? Do private schools really have a different environment and turn out kids who are more respectful of adults and their surroundings? Please, any input would be greatly appreciated. Sarah princess3
Iím a single parent of a 9th grader at El Cerrito HS. My daughter has a Math LD and has always been in the public school system, which has handled her alternative learning needs very well. She's a straight A student. Academically perhaps, private schools may better benefit her, but she is very active in sports, an arena in which I don't think the private schools can compete very well.
However I am the product of private education and from that experience I voice my concerns on Public V Private. I am also familiar with the Berkeley area schools via my nephews enrolled in a Berkeley private school. At the crux of your concern is the social environment. In my experience at private school I found just as much social disregard for rules/elders/social morals. In fact I think there was more sex and drugs going on at my private school of 8th, 9th, and 10th grade than in the public school I finally graduated from. Reasons for this perception can be anything from socio-economic background (access to $$), school population, to parents who arenít as involved with their kids and leave the private school to be the surrogate. But what it comes down to in my most humble and experienced opinion is social and moral education starts at home and needs to be continually reinforced. If you are interested and active in your childís social life, the margin for falling to the fray is considerably smaller.
My child has been exposed to all sorts of drugs/sex/violence/etc at ECHS. Sure it frightens me but I know I cannot place my child in a bubble and protect her forever. She is a good kid because I am there for her, always honest with her, continually reinforce right and wrong, and because I support her ability to make the right decision on her own. Ask your child where she would be most comfortable as far as schools go, allow her to be part of the decision. I believe the more we enable our children to be in control of their lives, the more likely success will be the outcome for their future.
Yes things have changed socially from when we went to school. Kids swear more, drugs/sex/violence more prevalent. Our country is on a moral downslide. For many of us, our moms stayed at home while we went to school, now both work. Most likely it will not matter from a social perspective if you send your child to a public or private school, in the end, our children make their own choices when we are not there to guide them.
If you are concerned about the conditions of your daughterís school, get involved, file a complaint, and let your daughter know itís okay for her to voice her opinion to school officials too! Many public school systems fail because we simply turn away, we donít care to be bothered by something we feel should be handled by others. Fact is, no matter where your child attends school we need to be vigilant of the conditions in which they thrive. Perhaps if we all paid better attention to the public schools, private schools would still be a thing of the social elite. Education starts at home. Jill
Should public schools be like that? I don't think so. Kids should be in schools where they feel safe. They should be able to walk down the halls without fear. They should be able to use the bathroom. And children should be able to be children and not have to grow up too fast dealing with obscenity and sexuality before they are ready. Unfortunately, that isn't what is happening at some public schools.
In part I think it is because there just aren't enough resources for the schools to deal with all of the problems. At my old school there were police called to campus almost daily. Between the fights, gang and drug problems, the administration was so busy that behavior issues like rudeness, swearing and inappropriate dress were pretty low on the radar.
That doesn't mean that we didn't try to deal with it. I did not ever permit swearing, rudeness, fights, provocative clothing, etc., in my classroom, but as a teacher there was only so much I could do. (There were times I would send kids out for truly outrageous and disruptive behavior and they would be bounced back in 5 minutes without any consequence at all.) Outside of my room I was even more limited. And, believe it or not, there are a lot of parents who don't think that it is a problem if their kid is in a fight, forget about if the kid swears, is rude or dresses provocatively.
At my school the teachers formed a committee and tried to set out guidelines for dealing with the ''small stuff'' in hopes that it would avert some of the bigger problems. In some ways it did help, but overall it didn't work because everyone wasn't behind the effort. I think that the administration, the faculty, the parents and the students all need to be part of the solution to those problems... and that is hard to do in WCCUSD.
Are these reasons to move your kid... that is a decision you and your family need to make. Personally, it is not a situation I want my kid to face in grade 3, 6, 8. Will I feel different when he is in high school? I don't know. If your child(ren) are bothered by what is going on at school you might want to move them. Or maybe you want to make some noise with the administartion and see if they can work to change what is going on. a teacher
All that being said I went to Public Schools for elementary, high and graduate schools and never found fecal matter in the vending machines. My first professional position was teaching at a very impoverished high school with a high proportion of gang members and students went to the bathroom safely. Why? Because those were the expectations. In the high school where I worked students did not bring weapons into the school - they were searched. Also the halls, and bathrooms were always monitored by teaching staff at all times. People were helpful, not confrontational and the students responded with respect. It wasn't that way at all the schools, our principal was a former PE teacher and she knew how to lead large groups of all kinds. I learned a lot too. When I hear these horror stories I wonder why parents do not form ''bathroom attendants brigades''. What child would do something weird in front of mom, auntie or grandma?
I recommend visiting some high schools in the next thirty days or you will be missing the deadlines coming up. I visited 10 private high schools in the Bay Area last year -all the kids and faculties were great, no need to be worried about your reception. claudia crask
You do need to talk to your kids about what is appropriate for them to DO, particularly not to copy the bad behavior that happens to them. This is basic parenting. Even at the best schools there will be kids doing very bad things (although they may do them more politely).
Bullying takes many forms. The gross forms such as shouting and pushing are easier to take action against and can in the long run be less horrible than some of the cruelties thought up by smarter and more verbally adept kids. All good schools, public or private, have a clear way of dealing with bullying. Public schools can be very responsive to dealing with these issues - talk to the teachers, go to the PTA. Fiona
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