Seeking Advice on Public vs Private School Decision

Updated on July 06, 2009
D.Q. asks from Miami, FL
4 answers

I live in Edison Park very close to two Catholic schools: 1) St Juliana and 2) St Paul of Cross. I also live close to Ebinger public grammar school. I have been tryign to do research to understand true differences between the schools, but they still seem very similar to me. I wonder if anyone knows how to evaluate stregths and weakness of each school beside word of mouth. I have also checked the CPS website and Chicao Archdiose websites, but there is so much information out there, I am having trouble navigating to find what I need (basic information about curriculum in an abbreviated format)

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answers from Chicago on

I have 2 kids in Catholic school and I just pulled one out and he is now in public school.

Each school has its own pros and cons. The Catholic school is good for discipline and teaching the kids respect, but I see some of that in the public school too. The Catholic school does push the kids and make them do stuff like science projects, but if your kid doesn't fit into their mold you are stuck. I had one of those kids. He is very bright and they didn't have the resources to challenge him enough. He's now in the gifted program in the public school and all is well.

Besides the cost of tuition, there are uniforms and all the money they hit you up for during the year. We had some great teachers in the catholic school, but some old and crabby ones too. There were some bullies at the Catholic school as well and their parents weren't much better.

You have to look at your area. I'm not in Chicago, so I have a good choice either way. CCD classes are not the same as having religion every day and mass once a week during school. I'm not familiar with your area, so I don't know what size classes they have at either school, but my Catholic school has 31 kids in a class and the public school has 24. I would find that out.

I would also check into your CCD program. Do you know anyone with kids in it?

If the public school looks good, why not try it out? My son has enjoyed being part of the neighborhood vs. getting on a school bus for his old school. He also is doing very well and it's been an all around great experience. My other kids hve done great with the Catholic school experience, but academically it's stronger in some areas and weaker in others compared to the public school we've experienced.

Does that make sense? You can send me a private message if you want to.



answers from Chicago on

Ok- I am a mom with 2 kids in Catholic school in Sycamore IL. Now that being said, I am a product of the CPS system myself and I would not recommend that public school system to my worst enemy. I was fortunate enough to graduate HS and get my BS from NIU. Idid not realize how awful the school system was until I came to college and talked to to other people about their education prior to coming to college. I went to "good schools" in the CPS system yet they did not offer a fraction of the opportunities from my suburban counterparts. They schools are sooo overcrowded kids have to share textbooks, no TP in bathrooms, cold lunches, unmotivated teachers, need I go on?? I mean really if those basic needs are met for the kids, how much learning is really going on??

That being said, I do not live in the city but we chose to put our kids in Catholic school for the learning environment. My kids thrive on the structured and disciplined enviroment. They get a solid foundation that resembles our family's values along with the academic curriculum. So it was the right fit for us. As a parent you have to look at all those factors.
Good Luck with all your choices!



answers from Chicago on

My older 3 kids went to catholic school and the youngest one born when others were already in jr high went to public school. I can tell you some things are the same. but other things are vastly different. The education they get in a private school is hands down better than the public school. but it is for several reasons. one of them is the fact that the parents are very involved in every aspect of the catholic school. this is because catholic schools depend on a lot of parent volunteers. so you are in and out of the classroom as aids, and helpers. thus the kids have access to more attention. public schools have great teachers for the most part but the volunteer stuff is not near as prevelent. the m ain thing I noticed though is that in a catholic school the teacher has control of the classroom. at all times. her hands are not tied as far as giving immediate consequenses. in the public school no one is held accountable. that at least has been our experience. you should go and observe in each of the schools your checking out. ask to be shown through out the school. not just the advanced class but all the classes. see who is runnign the class. is it the teacher or the students who disrupt it all the time. we have been lucky in the oswego school district to have spectacular teachers for our youngest son. but he does not have the manners or the awareness of how he is affecting others around him that the older 3 do. part of that is that he is the youngest. part is that in the public school those things are just not priority. litle things like standing for ladies when they come into a room, opening doors for someone coming the other way. things we stress at home are just not rules in the public. and that is partly also becuase in general those little niceties seem to be disappearing.

for your other question about having the best of both worlds. My youngest goes to ccd. its a battle each week. the older kids wasn't ever an option. it was part of the curriculum. the youngest hates going. wish we had put him in catholic school to start with. but he was born after we moved and the public school was literally right across the street and we thought what will it hurt. for us it was a choice we would redo. just our opinion. one of the many many you will get lol.



answers from Chicago on

I live in the city and there is just no way my son will go to public school. First of all, I'm thinking long-term and with living on the south side there is no way that commuting to a magnet high school (the only acceptable choice for us, since Morgan Park and Julian are clearly out of the question) is feasible. Even if it were, the competition to get into magnets is out of control, in my opinion. I'm sure the public elementary school in our neighborhood is fine but knowing that my son will go to one of the nearby catholic high schools, I feel more comfortable with him attending a feeder grade school. Some schools are really strict that the family is a member of a 'feeder parish' and that they've attended a 'feeder school' within the district. Also, I think it would be really difficult for our son to be in the Chicago Public School system through 8th grade (poor classroom management, low test results, high teacher/administrator turnover, and now...a CEO that has no education background running the show) and then switch over to a completely different atmosphere where the kids have all been going to school together since kindergarten. Finally, although I don't always agree with everything 'Catholic' I do like that there is that spiritual teaching and connection.

I currently teach at a high school on the North Shore and prior to moving to Chicago spent time teaching at a Catholic girls' high school.

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