Which School Would You Choose???

Updated on August 05, 2013
A.P. asks from Morrisville, PA
17 answers

I'll start off by saying our family has dealt with a lot of change since the spring...sold our house, pulled the kids out of school and moved out of state, homeschooled to finish out the year. My father-in-law died suddenly not a month later a day before my dad had emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Fast forward, looks like we may finally have found a house. While we were looking, we had found a Catholic school for our first grader. We are Christian but not Catholic--our thinking was that we could send our son there no matter where we ended up living in this area. It's a good school academically and there are many non-catholic students. The school is fifteen minutes from our new house, and is in the same town as my hisband's work--so he would do drop off and I would do pickup. The public school is a two minute drive from the house, and is a good school in a good district. Just to make things interesting, I found a Christian school that is fifteen minutes away. Religiously speaking, it is aligned with where we are, and it's a very nurturing place, also seems to be good academically, although there is a range of test scores. I attribute that to the fact that there are kids coming from every socioeconomic background and various districts. The only real drawback I see to that school is that there is almost no outdoor space for the kids. As for the public school, I am concerned about everything from indoctrination to testing--is it my imagination or is it weird that 3/4 of their day is for reading and writing, with a smaller amount left for math, and even less time for science, history, and specials? I'm torn--I really wanted to homeschool, which my husband will not allow. I don't believe, at this young age, that kids should be sitting at a desk all day. Ironically, the Christian school, with almost no outdoor space, is the only school to have extra recess time (twice a day--one short, one long). At this point, I've had to make so many decisions, I'm stuck--don't know what to do and I'm all over the place! Where would you send your kid if you were me? Thanks for reading :)

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answers from Tulsa on

I find it interesting that you are worried about indoctrination from the public school, and not the 2 that will be based on an actual doctrine. That said, I would tour all the options, meet the potential teachers, and follow your gut. More often then not, you get a feeling of what is the right choice. One thing is to make sure that all the schools are accredited. The private Christian based schools we have here aren't-graduates will receive a GED after taking the test rather than a diploma.

Personally, I would be worried that too much religion was included in the curriculum for the private schools, that takes time away from math, science, etc as well, and I prefer to teach my son religion at home rather than in the school setting. I went to a Catholic school for awhile in elementary school (I am Protestant) and never felt I didn't belong. Most the kids weren't Catholic, actually. Do you feel comfortable letting your son visit with you and participate in the decision making process? Ultimately it is your choice, but it may help him to be excited about starting a new school if he is involved.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was in the same boat as you. I went with the Christian school. I don't mind *indoctrination* when it lines up with my core beliefs, and lets face it, most public school teachers are very liberal.

Your child will get a good balance of religion and math and science in a private school. In fact your child will more than likely exceed in math/science due to the smaller class sizes and less testing that has to be done in public schools.

If you can afford to send your child to private school and the private school has a great reputation, then it's a no brainer, always go private.

BTW Being accredited is only important in high school.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

As a current public school teacher who went to high school at a private Catholic high school, my vote would be for either of the options that are NOT public. Don't get me wrong...I love my job...it's why I teach. BUT, public schools have so many restrictions placed on them that can strongly (negatively) affect the quality of education a child receives. In public school, we are required by law to accept any child who lives in our district. In private school, they don't have to accept any child, and thus, the students who are at the private school are generally those students who are not causing major troubles in the classroom. In my private high school, if you were a continual classroom behavior problem/started a fight/got caught doing drugs/etc., there was a pretty strong likelihood that you were not going to be allowed to come back. It's not that they weren't forgiving, it's the fact that everyone deserves access to quality education, and if you're a pain in the rear, then the private school doesn't have to keep you around. A public school, on the other hand, cannot expel a student without a policy in place, multiple documented problems, documented interventions, etc. You better believe that this has an impact on every child in the classroom when you have students who are disruptive. While I am thinking about this from an older student perspective (I teach HS), things happen just as much in the lower grades with students with behavioral problems. You see, PUBLIC schools are required to provide services to students with behavioral problems. Private schools generally do not have the faculty to handle these types of students, so these students will go to the public school.

I do realize how snobbish I am sounding. Please don't get me wrong here...I have worked with all different types of students...special needs, students with behavioral problems, students who are in need of rehab, students who have just come back from rehab, students with emotional disorders, etc. I have enjoyed working with a large majority of them....but I do not discount for one minute how disruptive some of these students can be to an entire class. If it were my child, I would choose a private option if it is available.

As others have suggested, get a tour of each place and see which one feels best.

As far as religion is concerned, I learned so much about my beliefs at my private Catholic school. I truly appreciated that instruction. However, our non-Catholic students (and there were many) were not required to take a religion class. They were asked to be respectful when we prayed or had mass, but they were not required to participate in any way.

Hope this helps!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Here is what you do. :)
Choose the public school. It's free, and it's a good school, you mentioned.
Then, save the money you saved for more extra activities like sports or art. That is the best of both worlds.

You NEED a school close to home. Been there, done that. Especially in the snow.

That is what I would do if I were you, and it's basically what we did do. We did public, spent our extra money on activities, etc. And the kids go to religious ed and church.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm sure my comments are going to really tick some people off, but please hear me out. I am a Christian (non-Catholic married to a Catholic) and also a public school teacher who attended a private Christian college and taught at a Catholic school for five years. (If it matters, because a lot of times in public education discussions it seems that political party matters, I am also a Democrat.) I also have very good friends who homeschool their children and send their kids to private schools and teach in private schools.

We considered Catholic and Christian schools for our daughter before she started kindergarten, but for many reasons we chose our public schools. (Exposure to the incredible diversity within our city, the high caliber of teachers in the public schools, the availability of resources that the public schools had and the private schools didn't have--like gifted education, not having to pay tuition, the accountability checks that public schools must meet that private schools sometimes lack, our daughter's educational needs, and other personal reasons.) We won't go back on that decision for many reasons.

I don't understand where people get the idea that their kids will be "indoctrinated" in public schools. In my opinion (and in my experience) indoctrination happens more in Christian/Catholic schools and in homeschooling because a specific religion or mindset is being taught. In public schools, kids are taught many different views and how to think for themselves. They are exposed to different thinking and learn how to sort through information. They are not always being taught just one way. And contrary to what others may think, I believe that if you have a strong set of beliefs that you teach at home, no matter what your children (of all ages) are learning outside of the home, your teachings will have a stronger impact on your children. I also believe personally that attending public school is better preparing my kids for life after high school/college because it is highly unlikely they will enter a workforce or social scene where everyone has the same belief system that they have.

In answer to your question about the amount of reading time in the public schools, no, that is not an unusual amount of time for elementary students. Literacy is the base for all learning at all levels. In most reading instruction there is science, social studies, history, etc. imbedded in the reading instruction at the elementary level. And reading and writing are imbedded in the science and social studies areas as well. More departmental instruction starts in the middle school years.

Having said all of that, (and probably really making a lot of people really angry) the choice is ultimately up to what is right for your child and your family. If we lived in a different community we may have made a different decision. I'm not trying to bash homeschooling, Catholic schools, or Christian schools. Every child is different, every school is different, every family is different. I've seen stellar private schools and truly pathetic private schools. The same with public schools and homeschoolers. I'm only asking that you don't automatically disregard the public schools because certain groups have said public schools are bad. You need to judge for yourself what is best for your family and your children. (Goes back to that needing to learn how to think for yourself.) I think the best advice that has been mentioned is that you need to visit all three options and decide what is best for your family. Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It sounds like both the Christian and Catholic schools are great options for you. I'd go visit both of them with your son and see which one seems to draw him in more.

I went to Catholic school from K-12, and for college. We're sending our kids to Catholic school. At my particular school most students were Catholic, but we had plenty who weren't as well (other Christian denominations, or even non-Christians). We all received wonderful educations.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My children went to public school. You are paying for this via your taxes. Save your money and stop worrying about those "nasty public school kids". Those are the same kids who are in Sunday school, after school activities, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, etc.
Your children will succeed wherever you put them as long as you are involved, you motivate them to do well, and you are available. Don't forget that public school teachers are required to keep up their certification, take post grad classes, and take training classes every year. Most public school teachers are required to have a Masters degree or be working on it to get and stay employed. This is not the case for private school teachers.
The world is made up of all different types of people, as is public school.
My children are both terrific kids who got a great education out of the public school system. They are both doing well in college and are both academic scholarship recipients. They have both decided to give back and serve their country. I can't say that about a lot of the private schooled kids I've met...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would agree with touring all 3 and see what feeling you get from them. School curriculum can be based on different philosophies so you have to go with what you think is right for you and your child. I went through this dilemma recently as well. I went to Catholic school, hubby public and where we live is known for having great schools so I originally thought I would be OK with public. When it came time for us to start school though, I had other reasons than just the academics. I wanted my son to have the same faith foundation I did. Like Amber mentioned, parents CHOOSE to put their kids there for a reason. As far as outdoor space, kids will make do with what they have. I wouldn't let that be your deciding factor. I think I would go Catholic or Christian if you can do it. I would also consider what you will do AFTER elementary school and make sure it works within the greater scope as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Dear A.,

I almost could have written Erica's post. We are a bit different. I am Catholic married to a Protestant. I went to public and Catholic schools growing up and my mom worked in both Catholic elementary / middle and public middle schools as a teacher for over 30 years. I taught in public school for a few years - then changed careers:) If it matters, I am Republican leaning Libertarian. I have good friends who send their kids to Jewish schools, Christian schools, private, non-denominational schools, Catholic and public schools as well as friends that homeschool. They each have their reasons and I respect those reasons.

We considered Catholic, Methodist (Christian) and public for our son. We chose public elementary school. Our public elementary is rated very highly, has a lot of ethnic, racial and financial diversity, great teachers, lower class size ratios than anything private due to FL laws (18:1) and resources like special education. We don't have to pay tuition and know that the teachers are certfied and must maintain continuing education, etc.

Public schools were the foundation of this country. Look at Thomas Jefferson's dedication to higher education and his vision for the University of Virginia. If we don't educate our children well, they will not understand how our republic works and will not be educated voters. I think we have a lot of uneducated voters who succumb to marketing and the media. The only "indoctrination" I see in public schools is a requirement to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Frankly, if you don't want to do that, I would gladly welcome you to leave our great nation. Again - probably ticking off a lot of readers right now. Still my feelings, all the same.

As Erica said, in public schools kids are taught many different views and exposed to many different people. That is the way real life will be and so it is good to start practicing now. I agree that if you have a strong set of beliefs at home they will weigh more than those taught outside the home.

Go and visit the public school and get a real feel for it. Meet some teachers, visit classrooms and truly understand what they offer. New Jersey has very highly ranked public schools on a nationwide scale.

Do what is best for you and your family. Just please don't succomb to the idea that public school is "bad". I truly believe that the public school system in our country is in jeopardy due to a classist and elitist attitude towards it. If everyone who can goes to private or charter schools, and only those who can't go to public than we are encouraging its demise.

Good luck! C.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would pick any, but a public school. Public school woukdn't even be an option for me. The Christian school sounds very nice, but the Catholic school sounds fine as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Visit all the schools, pick the brains of the staff at each, and even make a list of questions for each school so you won't forget what you want to know. Don't be afraid to ask about anything and everything. You can get the beginning of a feel for a place, too, by getting acquainted with the people who run it.

When you get to the school with the small outdoor space, ask what they do about that situation. You won't be the first mama to ask. See if you like the answer.

Do you have running-around space for your children at home? Keep in mind that, if there is a small place to run around in at school, they can make up for it with your larger yard when they get home.

Various schools have various facilities and programs. You want to educate your children in academics, in character, and in a life view. That would point to your wanting a school with teachers whose convictions go along with yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My son is at a Catholic School, so I am a little biased. What I would do is tour, get a feel, meet the principal and teachers they will have for the next few years. You didn't mention the ages of your kids. Do any schools offer 1/2 day kinder? If so I would seriously consider that school. I would also look beyond. Do all the schools go through 8th? If not check out the middle schools in the area.

BTW don't underestimate the need for outdoor space. It is pretty important if you don't want 8th graders tossing the frisbee and be-heading a little preschooler:). I'm joking, but it's true, especially if lack of space means they stay inside. On rain days when the kids are not able to go out to play they are a handfull, not to mention the teachers are a little crabby, too.

Good luck! You've had a tough year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

So you're not concerned about your kids being "indocrinated" in the Catholic school just the public?

Indoctrinate: teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically

I beleive you teach values and spirituality at home and send your children into the world to learn about diversity of opinion and culture. If you're concerned they will be exposed to non Christian people who will teach them to accept a different set of beliefs then you should send them to the Christian school where everyone shares your religion.


answers from San Francisco on

This is a tough one. Why won't your husband allow homeschooling, if that worked for you last year? Did you or your child not enjoy it/ it didn't go well? I will tell you, we have experienced public school (atrocious - and we are in the "best" district/school in this metro area), private schools (one religious, one not - both preferable to the public school), and homeschool (fantastic all the way around). So... to me, if you have the skill and ability to homeschool and it worked for you in the past, that is by far the preference in my book. Your child will gain the most academically, and you can spend whatever time you like socializing outside of the school environment (and you'll have a lot more time to do so than kids in any other type of school setting do).

If you really can't homeschool, I'd go with the school with the highest test scores. Yes, there are other measures of how much kids learn, but test scores are a good indicator of how well the teachers are teaching the core subjects. And if you're going to pay tuition, you're not paying for recess or lunchtime or how warm and fuzzy you feel about it. You're paying for education. So choose the place that will give your child the best education. Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

first grade is all about reading. so I am not surprised that most of the day is spent on reading and writing. I would seriously look at the cost of this school.. private school for the next 12 years... how much will that cost. public school is freee. you can save the private school money for college and special fun classes.

the number 1 factor in your childs school success is parents.. that you read to her.. that you will continue to read to her and that you will teach her things you think the school is not doing so well.

my kids are in public school and I do teach them a lot at home.


answers from Grand Forks on

I would choose the school that you child can walk to and that the other children from the neighbourhood will be attending. This way your child will truly be part of the community in which you live.



answers from Harrisburg on

Our kids both started out in Christian school and I'm grateful for that experience. They got a good grounding in scripture, which was important to us. Both transitioned to public school by the end of elementary school. As grateful as I was for their start in Christian school, I'm now grateful for their public high school. They have tremendous opportunities that they never would have had had they stayed at their Christian school.

There are pros and cons for any options. Choose which one makes the most sense for YOUR family now. We always said it was a year-to-year decision for our family. That said, in the middle of our son's 5th grade year, when we had issues with the Christian school, we moved him mid-year. The decision as to where to send your child is not permanent. You can change it at any time.

I would say though, our Christian school was about 20 minutes from our house. Our son's best friend (for a time) lived about 30 minutes on the OTHER side of the school. It made it really difficult to get them together. It was really nice when our kids transitioned to public school that their friends were much closer and we felt more in-tune with the community.

I think it's really important to keep an open mind and stay on top of your kids' education...no matter where they go to school.

Why will your husband "not allow" homeschooling if that's what you want to do?

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