Public versus Private Schools – Part 1

Note: On on January 11, 2009 I began facilitating a parenting class for DaySpring, the church I attend in Waco.  I’m going to be offering some of what I’m doing there in this space over the Spring.

Good Day all you parental units out there!  After a week off to celebrate Hope in the form of Christ’s victory over death, we’re back to figuring out how get all those little tricycle motors not only growed up, but growed up as persons of great character and faith.

One of the decisions that almost every parent considers at one time or another is the public school versus private school decision. In Waco, this comes down to actually three choices, which I suspect are similar to many communities.  Parents have these options:

  1. Waco Independent School District. WISD is fraught with all the challenges of a large, diverse district which has a very large population of socio-economically challenged kids.  My wife, as the nurse at Waco High, has a front row seat from which to observe all of difficulties of running such a district.  WISD has a large number of very uninvolved parents, and therefore a tremendous amount of resources are directed as just trying to keep the kids of these parents moving forward.  At the same time, the district has provided outstanding resources for those students who are self-motivated achievers.
  2. Suburban schools. Waco is surrounded by some smaller communities which have excellent schools.  Because these communities are less socioeconomically diverse, they tend to deal with much less conflict, and therefore, fewer distractions.  Many parents who work in Waco opt to live in one of these communities because of the schools.
  3. Private schools. Waco has several outstanding college prep, private school options.  These schools offer smaller class sizes and much more personal instruction.  The obvious downside is the cost.  All of these schools provide scholarships to help families who can’t afford the full fees, but for understandable reasons, the student bodies tend to be fairly homogeneous both socio-economically and ethnically.

DaySpring is fortunate to have some really cool young people from each of these settings.  These young men and women have become close friends through church, and so have a pretty good idea about how their school lives compare.  This past Sunday morning four of these students met with our class to discuss their experiences and their impressions regarding these school choices.

I’ve not been able to figure out how to summarize what they had to say, other than to point out that they each did a good job of expressing what they appreciated about the school they each attendened and what they perceived to be the differences.

I’m sending a note to the members of the class asking them to offer their reflections on the conversation with the youth….

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About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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One Response to Public versus Private Schools – Part 1

  1. Kelly says:

    Actually, Wes…

    I’d say the greatest downside to the private school education is the insulation from ‘the rest of the world’ and great lack of diversity of all kinds.

    My oldest son was on a 95% tuition waiver at a very expensive ($15K/year for full paying folks) private school in Denver for six years. Most of the kids he was friends with lived very protected lives, far removed from financial hardships and the troubles of even the middle class, let alone the working poor. Meanwhile, we lived a block off of East Colfax and drove cars way off of the luxury car list. One time, a friend of my son stared at the passenger door interior and asked how to put the window down. I pointed out the crank and he said, “OHH! I’ve heard of these! This must be an old car.”

    On the other side of the spectrum, I began a teaching certificate program many years ago in Denver and was stationed to observe a high school class in the urban ring. There was abundant evidence of what you identify at WISD schools as well. Students sleeping because they were working at Taco Bell till 2am the night before, etc…

    I don’t think the answer to education is ‘looking out for number one’ in the private schools, walled off from the reality of most of our society. And the answer isn’t in social engineering instead of parenting. (btw- that is exactly why i quit the teaching program).

    I believe that the difficulties educators face are the symptoms and not the cause of our cultural woes. We need a community that cares about educating all of our children and parents healthy enough to care for their kids.

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