Copyright © 2014 by Kym Kostos
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
As a parent you wonder how you will pick the best school for your child to attend?
You have three choices as a parent; public, private or home schooling. Even if you are paying tuition for a school, the deciding factors are always important.
In Volume 1, I will go over the three types of schools, public, private and home school. I will break them down into sub-categories and explain each one to you and then go over the pros and cons of each type of school. Hopefully this information will help you in deciding what type of school you want to send your child to.
In Volume 2, I will go over the Four Steps in helping you decide what school is best for your child by listing the questions you should be asking and the factors that go into making that decision.
If you're determined to have someone else teach your child, then the age long debate of private school or public school will cross your mind on more than one occasion. So many factors come into play when making this decision. One of them being finances. That is, your financial situation. Then of course deciding on what is best for your child.
Some wonder how can we possibly compare two things that are so different? It’s like comparing night and day or oranges and apples. How can we compare two different things that are so obviously not held to the same standards?
I went to private Catholic school for my years of education up until the ninth grade. My first eight years were a co-ed private Catholic school, then I attended an all-girls private Catholic school, then I went on to a public co-ed high school. I've seen the differences in the amount of education that is emphasized. When it comes down to it, you get what you pay for.
It’s like buying a more expensive car. It looks better, runs better and is sharper and probably has more whistles and bells on it. But, if you go the economical way and buy a car that is not so expensive, it will still get you places where you want to go.
Well, it all depends on how you go about doing it though. There are many public schools out there that offer the same kind of education that a private school would. Take into consideration the schools that offer honors courses or advanced placement courses. A lot of public high schools offer college prep courses. It depends on how serious you and your child will be taking their education and not just “go through the system” to get it over and done with. This is your child’s future you are talking about and it should mean the world to you.
My son is in the 4th grade at a public elementary school. He is Autistic, so he is in the category of a special needs kid. Even though it is a public school they have a great special needs education for him. His class is small about 9 – 10 kids and his teacher is very hands on and cares about her students. He has had her for several years and the teachers before her were just as amazing. I am on a daily contact basis with her in my son’s progress.
Not only do I keep in contact with her on a daily basis, either through e-mail, notes in his book bag, telephone conversations or texting on my cell phone. But, I also have his IEP’s (Independent Education Program) that we have.
Every child who attends public school and is in the special education program for special needs, must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Every IEP must be designed individually for that special needs student. It is a document that creates the opportunity for parents, teachers, related services personnel, school administrators, and the student to all work together to improve the educational results for a child with disabilities. Every IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for every disabled child.
The general steps in determining the special education process is:
- The child is identified by either the teacher or parent as needing a special education and other related services.
- The child is then evaluated.
- The child's eligibility is then decided.
- The child is then eligible for services.
- The IEP meeting is then scheduled.
- The IEP meeting is then held and the document is written out with goals for the child. The teacher and parent work together on setting the goals and reaching them. Each teacher and parent get a copy and any other related service workers involved.
- All services are then provided for the child.
- The child's progress is then measured and reported to the parents.
- IEP is then again reviewed at the end of the year and the child is then reevaluated to determine if goals were met and to set new goals.
Most parents have toured both kinds of schools at one time or another, or like myself, had attended both. Most people have a bias opinion because of their experience or experiences, good or bad, with either public school or private school.
The common theory of many is that private schools offer superiority in everything, therefore justifying the high tuition costs.
Then there is the argument that public schools provide more experiences in real-life or in other cases, they have advanced development in specialty programs in the science or athletics departments.
After attending both types of schools, I can see where the argument is. I was into sports a lot, even though the private school I had attended had a small sports program, there were still available sports for us girls. Soccer and volleyball were it. The boys had soccer and football.
In public school, there was soccer, tennis, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, cheerleading, etc… The sports program was a lot stronger and there was more of a variety.
Parents will argue back and forth about the differences between public schools and private schools, but when it comes down to it, it all points to the cold hard cash.
Private schools require tuition for a student to attend and many times, it is not cheap! Whereas, public schools are not allowed to charge tuition to attend. But, they are often under funded and understaffed because of cutbacks influenced by political agendas. Public schools are funded by state, local and federal taxes.
Private schools must come up with their own funding; which usually comes from alumni, parents, tuition, private grants, fundraising and other school and community events.
According to The Private School Review, as of 2013-2014, the national average private school tuition is approximately $9,238 per year.
The private elementary school average is $8,222 per year and the private high school average is $11,824 per year.
In the next three chapters, I will go over the different types of schools, break them down, and go over the pros and cons of each.
Chapter 1 – Public School
Public schools get their funding from state, federal, and local government financing. They must admit all students who live within the borders of their district. Two relatively new types of public schools are Magnet and Charter. There are also Creative and Performing Arts Schools.
Charter Schools began popping up in the early 1990s. They are independently operated public schools started by teachers, parents, for-profit companies and community organizations. They do receive tax dollars, but the sponsoring group may also come up with private funding. However, Charter schools do not charge tuition.
Charter schools must follow all the basic curricular requirements of the state but are free from many of the regulations that apply to conventional schools. They are not subject to the scrutiny of school boards or political authorities or the government.
Charter schools are considered cutting edge and more often than not, challenge standard educational practices and sometimes specialize in particular areas, such as the arts, science or technology or even adopt a basic core-subjects approach. Some charter schools specifically target high-risk or gifted kids. Classes are usually smaller and offer more individual attention than public schools.
The United States has about 3,000 charter schools. If you would like more information on Charter schools and locating them in your area, visit the National Charter School Resource Center.
Magnet schools are free public schools that can be highly selective and highly competitive. They are better known for their special programs and high academic standards. Often times they specialize in a particular area, such as the arts or science.
Rigorous testing may be involved during a potential student’s application process that wants to attend a Magnet school. Boarding facilities may also be offered at some Magnet schools who live in other cities.
Magnet schools started in the 1970s to help integrate public school systems by giving encouragement to those children who desired to attend schools outside their own cities and neighborhoods. One of the main reasons Magnet schools were formed was to promote student diversity.
To find a Magnet school, visit magnetschools.us
Creative and Performing Arts High Schools are perfect for those students who wish to pursue a career in the theater or performing arts category. Providing excellent opportunities is the main goal of a Creative and Performing Arts school. Students can still study a core curriculum that is given by the Board of Studies, while pursuing their dreams in the arts.
Learning is accomplished in specialized environments in which creative spaces, performance areas, dance studios, sound and lighting systems and teachers who specialize in he different performing arts courses that are offered.
Creative and Performing Arts High Schools offer education programs that are artistic to help students prepare for careers in the exciting and competitive associated industries and arts.
Also, in addition to the core courses, that are given by the Board of Studies, specialization in subjects such as drama, dance, music, and visual arts are taught.
If a student wants to enroll, they need to meet special requirements. To enroll, a student needs to attend an audition of his or her specialized art they want to pursue. The school’s principal determines criteria. The principal of the school is also available to discuss all the requirements needed to attend their Creative and Performing Arts High School.
There are many public school choice programs available for free to families from having to attend their assigned schools in their neighborhood or even city. Some school districts will offer optional school choices. Also, schools are required by law to provide parents with other options when their school is failing to meet the standards that are set by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Because of the decline in the economy, more and more parents are having to send their children to public schools. Another reason is so that they can get a head start on college tuition, which is very costly in itself.
Parents who want to find out more and get a better idea of how public schools are zoned, operated, funded and get the advantages and disadvantages of their child attending a K-12 public school, I have the information you are looking for.
Each public school has geographical boundaries that determine which school a child attends. This is done to prevent overcrowding of the public schools. The parents of each child will already know what school their child be attending by the location of where they live.
Tax revenues are what fund public schools. Our state, local and federal taxes, as well as our local governments are what keep the public schools in operation.
The state in which you live in customizes the programs and general curriculum of their public schools. This results in them following standard testing results and other statistical measures about the graduation and attendance rate that provides the state the proper information about the performance of each of their schools in their state location. If their school is not meeting the state’s minimum requirements, students are then sent to other schools to enroll in and the school is then under evaluation.
In order to teach in a public school, the teacher must be experienced in student teaching, must have a license to teach, must be state certified and of course have a college degree. Tenure is granted after they have taught a certain number of years.
Fortunately, state regulations make it hard for a public school to outright fire a teacher without provocation especially if they have a clean record and have not committed with their students or on or off campus, any gross misconduct.
According to state law, each child located in the district or sometimes call a zone, will automatically be assigned to a specific school. This is because every public school is required to educate all children.
When a parent goes to enroll their child in a public school, they must first identify which school they must enroll their child in; which is determined by the closest school they live by. This can be confirmed by visiting their school district or state education’s website.
Next is to find the period in which they can register their new student. This is done by making an appointment with the school by calling them so the parent can fill out the required enrollment paperwork.
If you are choosing to send your child to public school, there are some things you should know. There are advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons.
I have made a list for you to consider.
- School bus transportation is free.
- Your child can join after school programs.
- Programs such as choir, theater and band are offered as extra-curricular activities for your child.
- You are guaranteed that all teachers are state-certified and meet all the state requirements to teach your son or daughter.
- Children, who are possible friends of your child, will be attending school with your child.
- Public schools offer nutritional breakfast and lunches, which can be obtained for free, if requirements are met.
- The sports programs are better and have more of a selection of teams for your child to choose from.
- After school care is offered in most public school.
- If you have a child with special needs who needs to be in a special education class, those are provided.
- Children get a more “real life” education and are not as sheltered.
- Education is free.
- Very little school choices for your child due most students required to attend their specified zoned school.
- Certain programs might be cut, such as music and sports, due to under-finding.
- Overcrowded classrooms and maximum capacity may fill the classrooms, causing large class sizes.
- A lot of emphasis on standardized testing.
- Failing students and gifted children are all blended in together and classes might be too hard or not challenging enough, causing the child to get lost in the shuffle.
- Student pack mentality in public schools might discourages A students and those who are overachievers.
- Dangers of being unsafe on the bus and on the school campus.
- Under staffing may cause students to have a teacher who isn’t very experienced or hasn’t taught very long.
- Higher risk of alcohol, drug and tobacco use being exposed to your child.
Chapter 2 – Private Schools
Private schools are governed by boards of trustees and are non-profit. In order to operate, private schools not only rely on tuition payments, but they also rely on endowments, charitable contributions, religious organizations and grants rather than church funds or taxes. Private schools may be affiliated with a religious institution but cannot receive funds or governance from them.
One-third of the elementary and secondary schools in the United States are private. Admission selection is taken from a pool of students. Private schools fall into the categories of co-ed (boys and girls) or single gender (all-girls or all-boys); day school (just attending during the day time and then going home) or boarding school (living on the campus).
In the United States, 2,000 out of 34,000 private schools are independent and out of those, almost 3/4 are members of the National Association of Independent Schools, meaning that they have been accredited by a recognized state or regional body and are in agreement to practice nondiscriminatory policies.
Church related schools are called Parochial schools and are usually owned by Catholic parishes or dioceses. But, there are also Protestant denominations and Hebrew schools that may also be termed as parochial schools.
Most of the private schools in the United States are Parochial schools. In these private schools, children are under religious instruction, are required to have daily prayer and are under obligation to attend weekly mass services. Teachers are often clergy (nun, priest, minister, deacon) or laypersons (non-clergy), who may or may not be trained educators.
Even though your child doesn't have to be a member of the church for either Protestant or Catholic, they will still be required to attend prayer services and religious instruction classes.
Another type of private school are proprietary schools that are run for profit. This is a relatively new category of private school. They do not answer to any board of trustees or elected officials, so they claim to be able to respond quickly to demands.
Many proprietary schools belong to an organization called the National Independent Private Schools Association. Their tuition is the same to that of private and nonprofit schools.
Private schools have advantages and disadvantages. Always weigh the pros and cons of sending your child to a private school to make the best decision for you and for your child.
When you are making the decision on whether or not to send you child to private school, the best way is to sit down with your child and have a conversation with them as to what they want and what their needs are.
Placing or moving your child into a new school is a big deal for them and you and they should have some kind of say in what school they will be attending. Not the final say, but at least give your child some input on something that will be making a huge difference in their future and yours.