Private School Vs. Public School - Sorrento,FL

Updated on October 25, 2010
T.S. asks from Sorrento, FL
17 answers

My son is 4 and in private PreK...and Kindergarten is right around the corner so we are in the planning stages of his future. Do we send him to Private School or put him in the Public School system? We live in Lake County and the schools are not that great so that is the first concern - elementary is okay but beyond that it goes downhill. The other concern is the FCAT...I am not crazy about the fact that so much focus is around that one test. Yet, another concern is the class size. My niece just started school this year and she has 22 children in her class...that's a lot and even if it gets reduced to 18 in the next month or so, that is still a lot considering the age.

So what concerns do I have about Private school... class size is one - I do not want him in such a small school that he misses out on the "socialization" part of growning up and being able to be part of a team, whether in sports or classroom activities. Another concern is finding a GREAT school - I don't mind paying the money for Private School but I want to know that the money is going towards a great school that will provide an excellent education. And my last concern is if we put him in private school he will not be going to school with his cousins that are like his siblings (one is 5 and the other is 3 so they are very close and provide a great support system for one another already).

I am looking for input from other mom's either in a similiar situation or have already gone through this...I am interested in hearing your thoughts on public vs. private, and if private please provide some recommendations on schools we should consider.

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answers from Detroit on

I think it depends on the kid. I did go to a few open houses at private schools when I was considering a private education for my son. I found that they had almost just as many kids in the class as public school. Not as many as public school but the class size was not as small as I assumed it would be for public school. I think that if a child is struggling or needs special services then public school would be a better place because I find that it has more services available for that type of situation.
But, I don't think one is better than the other. You have good and bad private schools as well as public. Something different is going on in each classroom it's just a matter of getting a great teacher.



answers from Phoenix on

My opinion is that you probably don't want the kind of socialization that comes with large classrooms with minimal adult supervision. Probably the private would be the best, but choosing a good one will take some time. I homeschool so I really didn't have to go through that but I would do what you're doing, if I had to look for a school. Good luck to you!!

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answers from Detroit on

It really comes down to parenting, in my experience. As long as the school is not unsafe or awful, of course, a child will basically do as well as his or her intelligence allows, regardless of the school.
A school is only as good as its students, as well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I can tell you why WE choose private school over public school but please realize I don't know your area and the strengths or weaknesses of any of your schools in your area.

I am a teacher and I taught in the public schools in our town. Our school district never has enough money for the things it needs, forget the stuff they would really like to have. So, for me, thinking that the teachers would have to make decisions based on how many copies they could make or how many crayons they could pass out bothered me.

I believe that the teachers in the public schools do a great job with the little they have and I know that my children would have learned how to read, write, and compute mathmatical sums just fine under that system. The problem is that in the public schools in my town, p.e., art, music, social studies, and science are rarely taught, if at all, in K through 3rd grade. I believe as a teacher that a well rounded education helps children learn to read and become better learners.

The private school that we go to provides all these subjects with specialized teachers whose passion it is to teach these subjects. This not only helps the quality of what is being taught, it gives their core teacher time to prep her lessons. In a public school the teacher that a child has often is expected to teach ALL the subjects regardless of their qualifications.

Our school is a Catholic school and we are Catholic. I wanted my child exposed to the values and teachings of this faith. I remember teaching Kindergarten in a public school the year I was pregnant with my first child. A little girl in the class 'flipped off' a little boy in the room. Fortunately, he did not know what this meant but it made me realize then that I did not want my children around other children whose parents may have more loose ideas of what was appropriate behavior.

With all this said, some public schools are great. If we lived in Portola Valley or Woodside (about an hour away), I would send my children to public schools. But we don't, and the public school we are assigned to do not live up to my expectations. ( I know this because I have friends whose children attend and hear stories).

Take a tour of the private schools in your area. Ask to visit the classrooms of the public schools. Ask if they have specialized teachers. If the classroom teacher is expected to teach all subjects, how often and what support is given to her/him. Ask to see the textbooks or equipment for each subject. Be curious and open to hear what each school has to say. You have to do what is right for your little boy and you will figure it out as you go. This is also not a decision that has to be a forever decision. You can change your mind.

The other (very minor) reason we choose private or public are the policies on attendance. Though a private school will let you know how important it is to attend, a public school can send nasty letters and follow up with truant officiers if a child is absent too often. Though my children are never tardy, we do like to take a family vacation once in a while. I don't want to have to hear about how the school is missing its ADA money (average daily attendance money) especially since my kids are above grade level.

I love the school that my children attend. Is it absolutely perfect? No. But it is always working to improve itself, its responsive to parental imput, and it teaches the whole child instead of just the core subjects.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

In our area, there aren't many private schools that go beyond 8th grade.
I chose public, thankfully we live a great district, because i wanted them to be with the same kids from k-12 I couldnt' imagine dealing with being ripped away from the kids i had known and thrust into highschool with strangers. We are not catholic either and i wasn't interested in the religious teachings in those privates schools.
Personallly i feel involved parents make or break your childs school experience. but again we live in a place with a great public school system.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We did both until I ripped them out of school altogether and now I homeschool.
In VA public schools my daughter was in a Kindergarten with 24 other students and no aide. In NC public my other daughter was in kinder with a cap of 20 and an aide, so was my son.
In VA the gifted coordinator was already looking at the kindergarteners to assess them for the SCOPE program. She was able to start pulling them out. In NC they didn't do any testing or separate teaching until at least third grade.
In VA I was not allowed in the classroom, there were no birthday parties, there was no academic recognition in the elementary years. In NC the children were awarded every quarter with various awards but not everyone got one. I was able to come in a participate with the class after I had been fingerprinted and OK'd by the school.
They both "taught to the test" as all schools do, public and private.
IN VA in a private Christian School the girls were happier but the level of math and science education was not that of the public schools. Grammar was much better. I was told, as my child was in 6th grade, she will take Calculus as a senior, she doesn't need Algebra in 7th. After a move to NC public she completed AP Stats and AP Calculus by her sophomore year.
IN the private school the class size for the younger grades was 24 with an aide in all grades from K-5, the 5th grade aide was shared with the fourth grade.
They taught to the CA Star test.
MAny private schools do not have the resources to teach the AP and IB classes.
Go to and see how your high schools stack up to others on test scores.
I homeschool mine. I want them to have the benefit of the Grammar program used in the Christian schools but the math used in secular schools. I want them to be able to think for themselves. I want them to excel and actually learn the material.
We are involved in community sports, and art classes, and cub/girl scouts, youth group and church children's choir. They get plenty of interaction with their peers.
I would not say the two years in private schools were a loss, but I would not have them in longer than 3rd or 4th grade anymore.

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answers from New York on

My husband and I live in NYC and decided to put our K in a private school. Although public schools are also very good here we wanted her to learn Hebrew thus the private school choice. There are 14 kids in the class and two teachers and one teachers assistant...can't get any better than that. I believe if the private school offers a much lower student to teacher ratio it's worth it because they can cater to individual learning abilities. In regards to your son not going to the same school as his cousins there is plenty of time for them to play outside of school and on weekends :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We too, are fortunate to have fantastic public schools. Many of the private schools here do not offer art, band and choir. They are too focused on sports. We had friends who put their kids in a private school and the class sizes weren't much better.

It all comes down to what makes you feel best about your child's education. If you have the means to go private, go for it, but ask the same questions you would of a public school. Are they going to keep your child challenged? What will they do if your child isn't keeping up with the curriculum? What will they do if your child is ahead of the curriculum? What is their bullying policy? (It happens at private schools, too.) What are the class sizes?

My advice is that you take a list of your questions to the school. Many have their policies on their websites, you may be able to get information there, too.

This is a tough decision!! Good luck and keep us posted!

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answers from Sacramento on

Mom, look at the state test scores FCAT on line for the elementary school your child would attend if you go the public school route. If they are low than I would not consider it. We lived in Tampa for the 1st four yrs our daughter was in elementary school and she had a wonderful public school experience, Her school and teachers were outstanding and test scores were some of the top in the state, We did a great deal of research though before we moved to Tampa ,FL from the midwest where many public school are great.Told realtor we wanted to look at homes only where the best school districts were and we bought there. Not a lot of experience with private schools but you do need to look at tuition costs, here they are pretty pricey, many at least 10K annually for elementary school,I do know here you are open to a religious education, there are often many good Christian schools with great teachers and a have small class size. I found it funny when you said there were lot of children in a nieces/nephews public kindergarten class of 22 there. Here in CA public school at this time can have up to 32 kids and many in this area started this fall with that many and 1 aide with a teacher. Yikes! Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

This is a difficult question for any of us moms to answer that are outside of your area. Personally, I went to both public and private schools growing up and there are positive sides to both institutions, but socialization will haapen at either, so I would not worry about that. You may want to give the public schools a try for elementary and save your money for a time when it may be more important to consider other alternatives. If your child really likes his cousins then that support may be the most important thing to get him started. Right now, my nephew goes to a very fancy private school for kindergarten (20K per year). Everything looks glossy and they have a long list of notable alumni, they learn spanish, they have small classes, but when I saw the curriculum, it was the same one my son had in public school. Eventhough he did not have spanish or pottery wheels, he did have yoga and a smart board. For me, if I had 20K to spend, I would have put my nephew in public school and spent the money on home education to supplement or time travelling with the family. At that age they learn through the experience of sensing anyway. I know it is a really tough decision because you feel like it will affect their entire life, but if you are unhappy with the situation you can change it any time. I would recommend touring both the private and public schools - meet with your public school principal. You might be pleasantly surprised. All teachers have a special calling to want to be with and help children.
Good luck,



answers from Tampa on

Go see the Movie out right now called "waiting for superman" it will help you decide. I chose Charter school. We did research and chose the best match of charter options in our area for our child. Each child is different, excelling in different areas.
Good Luck!!



answers from Tampa on

My kids were in Charter school. My Hubby and I took them out. Although we liked the small classes and close knit people, the school was run as a business and not a school. This year my kids are behind in math and writing. They now go to public school and we are trying to get them back on track. It's been nice getting to know more people in the community at the public school. I too had pro's and con's about it. I'm thinking about magnet schools for middle school if we still live in FL at that time. We are involved parents so that helps a lot. My kids used to get A's at the Charter school. This year they get A's and B's but they work and earn those grades. Be on top of things no matter what school you put your child in.



answers from Madison on

One of the things I like about the private school my daughter attends is that it is like a close knit community. Parents are very involved. You get to know a lot of the families. They really care about what's happening in the school. The public school my daughter would have attended is very large and over-crowded.

Of course it depends on the school, but don't assume class size will be any smaller in a private school. For K-5 at our school the max is 25 kids. The kindergarten class has two teachers. 1st grade has one teacher and a aide.

In your situation, I would come up with a list of questions and go to visit several schools. Get a feel for the environment, curriculum, class size. Talk to other families that attend there if you can. This should help you in your decision.



answers from Orlando on

There are so many factors that go into a public school being a "good school". The school district, the principal, the student population, the individual tecahers... I have seen good schools go down hill with a principal change....

I have also seen some crazy behind the scenes stuff at private schools, like they may pass your child along even if she's not doing as well as she should because your check cleared and they don't want you pulling her out because she has bad grades. Also, check the certification of the teachers at the private schools you look at. Since they are private, they don't have to have certified teachers, so find out their qualifications. Find out the basic mission of the school-- if it's a religious school, they may hire people based on their religion and not necessarily because they are great teachers, for example. Or they may have a cirriculum based around religion and not as academically sound as you'd like.

My opinion is try public school until/unless you have a reason you don't like it. If you do go the public school route, write a letter or email to the principal and describe what your child is like and the type of teacher you think is best for her-- one who is soft spoken, one who is strict, one who makes school fun, one who has a lot of stability at the school (so you don't get the one straight out of college), etc - whatever you think would really fit your child the best... Once you become a squeaky wheel, the principal will make sure you get a good teacher because she knows you will be the type of parent to speak up if you're unhappy, so she'll give you the best teacher.



answers from San Francisco on

My kids are in private school. We live in California. Last I read California is 47 or 48th. When I went to public school, California was on the top. So even if I pick a "good" public school, what does that mean when the state is doing so poorly? Around here the public schools and private schools take different tests, so you can't compare the results. I am suspicious that is done on purpose by the public schools. With all the budget cuts I don't trust the public schools to deliver what they say they will over the years. Private schools have more of an incentive to deliver what they promised. If
they don't, you send your child elsewhere.
For private schools think about the type of environment you want your child to be in. For us we wanted a school that was good academically, but also was concerned about the whole child. I want balance. I also prefer diversity in the student body. My children are mixed, even though they look white. My kids elementary school is a privately owned school, but they teach respect for each other. They have the kids do projects for the community. So there is a sense of caring for those around you. After elementary we have chosen religious schools. Manly because they are concerned about the whole child and give the child a sense of helping others as well. The non-religious schools (in my area) have a more uppity, I am better than you feeling to them which I don't like. The most important is that the school has a philosophy close to your home values. One school my oldest started in kindergarten had a policy that parents were not allowed to speak to teachers without the principal being present. We took him out of that school. That just seemed weird to me. Good luck! We all are hoping to make the right decisions for our child. As I said - currently I have no faith in the public schools and I can't trust my child's education to them. It's too important! Such a sad state ;(



answers from Chicago on

I always have this question in my mind also. As for now, my kids are in public school. Academically, they are not really challenged to their ability. So I teach them myself beyond their grade level to keep them exciting about learning something new. They are in gifted/accelerated class. They love their school and friends. Most of the kids that go to that school are from the same neighborhood. We know most of the families and their values. The students are very diversified, but they don't bully each other or look at each other differently. So I keep them at this school.

Next year will be a challenge since my oldest one will go to middle school. The school that we've been assigned is known for their bullies and fighting :(. Because of the budget cut, no more gifted program next year. And as of now, there is no more band and choir at school. So it is less and less appealing for me to send him to public school. I am start looking for private school.
I'd say choosing a school is depend on your school, your neighborhood, and your expectation. Good luck of choosing the best school for your little one.


answers from Bakersfield on

You should interview the private schools in your area, they should be able to sell themselves to you, you are afterall paying for their service. Write down your questions so you are prepared to ask them at interview time.
I don't think cousins going to different schools will be anything one way or another. It will be good for your son to be around new kids rather than hanging with his cousin all day.
I'm pushing for the private school. If I could afford it when my sons were growing up that would have been my choice. With our public schools in such disarray it is a blessing that you have the choice to go private, I would take advantage of that for your son's sake.

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