The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Private Schools Vs. Public Schools

I love my kids more then anything.  They are my life, my future, my everything.....

Is it that selfish of me to only want what is best for them, only the brightest future they could possibly have?

We have recently toured a private school to evaluate our options and get a little more insight, if this is in fact what we thought it could be.  The information given to us about this one specific private school, left us with high hopes and confirmed that this would indeed be such a great thing for our kids. We loved the school and absolutely everything about it.  Upon our leaving after the private tour and after all our questions were addressed and answered, I suppressed joyful tears of this great desire for my kids with such a high purpose and correct intentions to attend this new school.

For me as a parent it's been difficult watching my little girl since grade one give all her hardest efforts to read and write, only to have such an unpleasant experience with a former teacher in grade 1 that I believe it could have potentially scarred her.  She was/is such a smart kid and while she knew her reading material, it wasn't recognized fully, the teacher was always on her back and holding her a level below what I felt she achieved.  In a way I felt as if the teacher herself was the bully that I hated.  This teacher went as far as ensuring Kendra received her only "C" grade for reading in grade 1 while all her marks were sooo good.  I think it went sort of down hill from there.  Grade two, couple of more of those "C's" crept in and now enrolled in grade 4 I am so worried of what will come.

My son - that's another story.  He's enrolled in grade two and he can barely write, with a sloppy chicken scratch and he honestly looks confused when he writes.  As a parent there is only so much I can do with my kids.  I trusted the system that when they are in the school for 6 hours at a time, they are actually learning something significant.  I haven't seen one test come home from grade one, not one spelling test, math test, nothing.  My concerns were voiced and I was reassured that he's doing fine and his marks were very good in fact better then my daughters at his age which was a total shocker to me because my girl was much more advanced and cerebral, but while I was worried, I knew that one day sooner then later something had to be done.

Speaking in regards to the curriculum with multiple teachers I was told that the standards & expectations have been raised by the education standards and are so high that in-fact a kid to get an "A" would nearly have to be a genius.  A kiddo with above & beyond comprehension, knowledge and self applications that gives 200%.  I was also assured that my kids "B's" were amazing marks and almost like (my old days) "A's".   This made me so uncomfortable.  From many angles.  How can these kids strive for the best when they give it their best and it is still not good enough?

My husband and I have discussed putting our kids in private school many times for few years now.  With over 2 years wasted on a family estate battle between us and my husband's older greedy siblings, we've realized that time is so precious and our kids are growing up so fast.  Nothing like the present to refocus, refinance and redirect our efforts to help and guide our kids into the brightest, most opportunity filled future we could possible give them.

With my research and obvious knowledge of the drastic cuts of provincial funding to education, I honestly think that more parents are turning into private schooling for their children.  I question, is this the right choice?

One of the main reasons for our research of private schooling was the bullying that happens in the public and catholic schools.  They say that they have zero tolerance but that is just plain "bull" no pun intended.  Nothing has ever been addressed, things are swept under the rug, parents are not informed and while everything maintains on the surface after the hush-hush takes place, the only people that suffer the consequences are the little people closest to our hearts.  My son and daughter both, are victims of bullying and their form, to the best of my knowledge was not severe like some other poor kids I know.  And, my kids happen to attend a catholic school because I wanted God to be part of their daily lives.

I'll be damned if I let some punk push my kid around while I let my child go to school trusting the authorities there to set the guidelines and where I feel my kids are safe.  At what point do we say enough is enough?

According to the studies, private schools experience lower bullying, fighting, theft, drug use and racism.  I could totally believe this.  Private schools put you as a parent through a tour, full and detailed interview process, asking personal and financial questions, and then decide if your kids will be enrolled.  Public schools do not do this.  However, I still don't trust this system fully even with private schools.  After all, our kids are taught to make choices and every student has individual family situations outside of school.

Another discouraging factor that plays a huge roll for me to keep my kids in their present school is their class sizes.  With my daughter going to grade 4, I've just learned less then two weeks ago that there are 30 students in her classroom.  "30"  That's insane!  How can these teachers possibly keep up to help each student while addressing their individual needs.  Private school classes are much smaller anywhere between 10 and 20 students, while capping off at a specific number.

While private schools are expensive, the Canadian government rounds off each child's education requirement to $3,000 to attend school per year.  That's $6,000 for two kids.  Anything above this number that you pay into the private school sector is considered a donation.  With that said, this can mean a great expense to your family income especially when you have a business.  The federal and provincial combined tax credit rate is anywhere between 30-40% depending on your donation amount.  This is huge!  Nothing like receiving a hefty tax return only to reinvest back into the following year.  I know that we will find a way to make this work.  After all, some of the best decisions we make are some of the toughest.

My addressed concerns were:  school curriculum, behaviour tolerance, values, learning/teaching methods, teacher screening methods, staff education levels, school books, belief in God, conduct and behaviour, bible studies, linguistic studies, punishments/consequences enforced in school, freedom during breaks, sporting activities in and out of school, homework load, arts, music, additional teaching/tutoring if needed, costs, additional fees and extras.  I think that if there was an answer I wouldn't have liked somewhere in there with all those questions I fired at this very pleasant principal, I would not have this strong urge and desire as I do to enrol them.  I think for me, my decision has been made, it is just a matter of finalizing few details.

We picked a Christian school for our kids, not the most expensive and not the least either.  It maintains a healthy balance and values in regards to God and goodness of mankind, while enforcing education in a strict consistent yet loving manner.  The parents are part of the board and participate in the decision making process for the school.  This school strives for a high yet attainable academic standard.  The average rate for students is being 2 academic years ahead, that meaning when they leave grade 8 and get into high school, they will know most of the material up to grade 10 level.  This is phenomenal.  We were also assured that most of the students that graduate, end up on the honour-roll in high school.  Again, superb!  After one hour tour, I felt so confident this school instills values into our special little people so they grow up to be persons of integrity, well rounded character and people I know I will continue to be proud of.  There felt to be a great balance between a higher degree of discipline, education and learning standards yet higher level of recognizing and embracing the free spirit of each student.

With all that said, I think each student, teacher, school and situation is unique for everyone.  Things that work and fit for others may not work for some.  It is wise to observe your kids, know them, recognize their needs and wants, and then evaluate your decisions accordingly.

For me - the only question I have myself asking before my final decision takes place to enrol my kids in this private school is this:   "Would it be horribly selfish of me as a parent to aim to enrol my kids for a minimum of two years (which is affordable by means of financing at the present time) for them to get the BEST education they could possibly get (and I believe this school would transform my kids 360 degrees), even if I couldn't afford to do this after two years let's say due to finances or whatever, only to pull them out of a school they would thrive in, learn to love, etc.?"

That is a difficult choice to make as a parent.  I am struggling with my choice and yet I'm leaning towards giving them a piece of the pie.  For now, I'll simply believe that all things are possible with God.

Much blessings,

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