Private school? Any regrets?

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Lacrab
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Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Lacrab » Mon May 30, 2016 9:24 am

Hello to you fine financial folk of the the forums, happy Memorial Day!

My wife and I are pondering enrolling in a local private academy, he is four and we are figuring this out a year in advance so there are no hiccups next summer. The grade school in our area has a ranking on Greatschools.org of 3.

Yes 3.

So we are a little underwhelmed. Though we know people in the area who have kids who went and are going there, and the summary of my impressions is "Meh, it ain't bad." So there is a free school that people aren't really excited about but dutifully send their kids to. There is this outstanding Academy that I think would be great for him, that would only be about $600 a month.

My hang up is spending money on something when there is a free option that isn't great but isn't awful. We can afford this with no problem, but obviously I would hate to look back and say we spent nine years and $54,000 dollars to be able to feel better about ourselves. That is my fear.

Experience? Advice? Anecdotal stories? Did everyone send their kids to public school? Private? Regrets? Please share!
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Nowizard
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Nowizard » Mon May 30, 2016 9:45 am

We were in a similar circumstance with our children and chose to initially enroll them in private schools. This was done with much thought, though we could afford it, due to our views toward education and society. We feel that private schools are great for many, but we identify with a more progressive, though educationally focused, group. We believe that adults interact with a diversity of people and that it is important to hone that capability. That is not to criticize others who choose a different approach since it is important to "start early" if Ivy League is the goal, for example. Anyway, that is just to say that we all have underlying attitudes toward education. Nonetheless, we would not sacrifice our children for any reason in spite of the belief that with at least 60th percentile schools children can perform well.

Our eventual solution was to discover a Magnet school that had entry requirements consisting of minimum achievement score percentiles in reading and math. One child was moved in the third grade, the other in the first. The schools were diverse, something we wanted, but with definite expectations for achievement. You might check that out if it exists in your community. For us it resulted in being able to save for college. Both eventually went to non-Ivy League schools with one becoming Phi Beta Kappa and a Ph.D., the other an MBA graduate from a top 15 university. Please excuse the "Humble Brag," a term first seen here a week or so ago, but things did work out well for our children.

Tim

MSchleicher
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 9:48 am

Lacrab wrote:Hello to you fine financial folk of the the forums, happy Memorial Day!

My wife and I are pondering enrolling in a local private academy, he is four and we are figuring this out a year in advance so there are no hiccups next summer. The grade school in our area has a ranking on Greatschools.org of 3.

Yes 3.

So we are a little underwhelmed. Though we know people in the area who have kids who went and are going there, and the summary of my impressions is "Meh, it ain't bad." So there is a free school that people aren't really excited about but dutifully send their kids to. There is this outstanding Academy that I think would be great for him, that would only be about $600 a month.

My hang up is spending money on something when there is a free option that isn't great but isn't awful. We can afford this with no problem, but obviously I would hate to look back and say we spent nine years and $54,000 dollars to be able to feel better about ourselves. That is my fear.

Experience? Advice? Anecdotal stories? Did everyone send their kids to public school? Private? Regrets? Please share!
As a public school teacher, I would suggest that you disregard Great School's rating. Their rating is greatly impacted by test scores. Some of the best teachers I have ever met teach at low-income schools. Why? They want to make a difference. Do they make the students have average or above-average test scores? No, not necessarily; there are many circumstances that impact a child's education.

As a child, I attended private school. My parents spent thousands of dollars to over the course of nine years to have me attend the school. Was I a better student because of it? No, not necessarily; my parents instilled values in me that helped me be successful. Those same values could have been fostered by the teachers at the local public school. Furthermore, when I transitioned into a public high school, I found that I was behind and had to re-take courses to meet the public school's standards. How would my parents have known? My standardized test scores were good. My grades were great. Everything looked fantastic. To all parties involved, my parents' money was well spent.

As a public school teacher that has experience with private schools, I would suggest that you take a deeper look. Spend some time learning about effective instruction. Attend informational meetings about the private school and find out how they instruct students. Then, spend some time researching the public school's district and their instructional models. You probably won't be able to tour the school like you would the private school, but you can learn a lot through research.
Last edited by MSchleicher on Mon May 30, 2016 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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gasman
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by gasman » Mon May 30, 2016 9:48 am

Sent both kids to private school all the way through. They turned out well. Both went to competitive private colleges. No regrets even though it was serious money.

dcabler
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by dcabler » Mon May 30, 2016 10:02 am

Our daughter went to private schools through 6th grade.
We really like the first one she went to. The plan was for her to go there through 8th grade, but 2008 happened and the school ended up dropping their middle school program. For 5th and 6th grade, she went to an all-girls private school. At issue there was that the school was very small and all of the girls had known each other since kindergarten - meaning she was an outsider. In my opinion, many of the things the school was trying to avoid by being "all girls" was actually amplified by middle school.

At the same time, she was diagnosed with ADHD and many private schools simply don't have the training/knowledge to deal with that and, legally, they're not required to. But her grades were great and we enrolled her in a public school magnet program - as good as any of the top private schools where I live, in my opinion. Unfortunately, after middle school, she didn't get into the magnet high school program and now attends the public high school close to our house - one of the top two in town.

Advice: Of course research the private schools and be comfortable that the academics are solid and that the school is viable. Our daughter was not helped by switching schools several times. In hindsight, we should have put her into the public system at 5th grade and then onto the magnet program for middle school. Your mileage may of course vary.

rai
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by rai » Mon May 30, 2016 10:05 am

gasman wrote:No regrets even though it was serious money.
I quoted this as where I am.

Our kids started out in public schools but we were not impressed. Turns out both of our kids have dyslexia and public school totally missed the diagnosis. Instead put them in a lower reading group. I believe this put them behind schedule in what could have been accomplished with their disability.

Anyway our kids are in private school and quite happy. 99% or more of the grads are going on to 4-year colleges. Most would be considered competitive colleges including Harvard, Yale. Now those are not the norm, but to say they kids have the pick of many top schools would be accurate.

The kids are very focused on education and continuing on to 4-year colleges and (I think) are well prepared to graduate on time. One I know of is finishing his degree in Chemistry in 3 (or 3.5 years).

Of course some from public schools also can and do get accepted to the higher level colleges no doubt. But it's the percentage that I think about. I think some public school graduates are not prepared for college and might find themselves drifting from school to school and not really making progress (In other words taking 5+ years to graduate if ever), many will go to community college and some will not go to higher education institutions at all. I have a friend of mine who's kids went to the public schools and they all are doctors and engineers from good colleges. But I know others who went to the same school who are floundering around in college just taking up space.

I just contrast that to 99% going to 4-year college (from the private school). Some years it's 100% going on to 4-year college.

fount this data, overall 40-something percent of HS grades go immediately to 4-year college and 20-something percent go to 2-year college (so around 66% go onto higher education.

That's taking into account both public and private HS so (I would assume that from public HS the numbers would be even less if the privates are sending 99%)

https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=51
Last edited by rai on Mon May 30, 2016 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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TRC
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by TRC » Mon May 30, 2016 10:10 am

We formerly lived in a town where the public schools weren't great. Rather than paying for private school (which was 14k per year / kid), we opted to move to a town with a much better public school system. A big factor for us was not only the teachers and state ranking, but also the type of kids at the school. No doubt there are amazing teachers in not well off towns, but the old adage of "you become the average of your 5 closest friends" really resonated with us.

rai
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by rai » Mon May 30, 2016 10:14 am

TRC wrote:We formerly lived in a town where the public schools weren't great. Rather than paying for private school (which was 14k per year / kid), we opted to move to a town with a much better public school system. A big factor for us was not only the teachers and state ranking, but also the type of kids at the school. No doubt there are amazing teachers in not well off towns, but the old adage of "you become the average of your 5 closest friends" really resonated with us.
We thought of this. We could have moved to a better school district. Paid more for the house but would have saved a lot more in tuition (ours is $30K/child) but would have been further to drive to work etc. So we elected to stay where we were but send to private school.
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Swansea
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Swansea » Mon May 30, 2016 10:20 am

I would opt for the private school. I was sent to boarding school for my secondary education, as my high school was sub par. I received excellent preparation there. Now, if you lived in a district where the public schools enjoyed a good reputation, then I would opt for the public school.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by KlangFool » Mon May 30, 2016 10:21 am

Lacrab wrote:Hello to you fine financial folk of the the forums, happy Memorial Day!

My wife and I are pondering enrolling in a local private academy, he is four and we are figuring this out a year in advance so there are no hiccups next summer. The grade school in our area has a ranking on Greatschools.org of 3.
Lacrab,

The other alternative is to move to a better neighborhood with good public school. It might be cheaper and better in the long run. I lived in a neighborhood with Median Annual Household income of 150K. We bought the least amount of house in this area. My children's high school is the top high school of the state of Virginia.

Please note that besides the school, your children will be influenced by the environment that he / she grew up from. IMHO, if you have to enroll your children in a private academy in order to get good education, you are not living in a good area. You will have a bigger issue than the school alone.

KlangFool

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by TonyDAntonio » Mon May 30, 2016 10:22 am

I have 30 year old boy/girl twins. One went to a public high school, one to a private high school. One got into all the UCs (University of California) and then got a degree from UC Davis, one had to go to a bunch of JCs (Junior College) before flunking out of Sacramento St. Which kid do you think went to private high school? That's right, the one that flunked out of college. As long as your public schools are decent your support and the makeup of your kid have more to do with how well they'll do in school than whether they go to a private school or not. BTW, both of my kids went to the same public schools K-8. The only reason we even looked at private high schools was because the public high school my kids were slated for was not good. We ended up sending our daughter to another public high school out of the area when she didn't get into the private (catholic) high school. With all I've written I'd also add that my son's private high school wasn't a complete waste of money. He enjoyed it and made some lifelong friends. And being a catholic high school it wasn't a fortune.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by jabberwockOG » Mon May 30, 2016 10:26 am

TRC wrote:We formerly lived in a town where the public schools weren't great. Rather than paying for private school (which was 14k per year / kid), we opted to move to a town with a much better public school system. A big factor for us was not only the teachers and state ranking, but also the type of kids at the school. No doubt there are amazing teachers in not well off towns, but the old adage of "you become the average of your 5 closest friends" really resonated with us.

This. Take the money you would spend at a private schools and instead use it to move to a better neighborhood or town that has excellent public schools. The kids will turn out much better adjusted as adults.

quantAndHold
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon May 30, 2016 10:28 am

Meh.

Unless you're in one of the 12 states for which greatschools.org has "additional data," the entire rating is based on standardized test scores. Standardized test scores are heavily affected by how the worst kids in the school do. And in the US, the "worst" students tend to be the ones with the lowest family incomes. So, if your school has a large low income population, the aggregate test scores will be low, even if the school would do just fine at educating your own kid.

The only reason I wouldn't put my kid into the public school, at least initially, would be if I know my kid has a need for small class size and more attention than he/she could get at a public school. I would at least start at the public school and see what I thought for myself.

Reading what came in while I was typing...A comment about the statement "Of course some from public schools can and do get accepted to the higher level colleges no doubt..." Wow. Elitist much? I checked the stats. 2/3 of Harvard's freshman class went to public school.

Non7WoodUser
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Non7WoodUser » Mon May 30, 2016 10:29 am

No need for private schools. Most good suburbs have excellent public schools.

btenny
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by btenny » Mon May 30, 2016 10:37 am

I sent my youngest daughter to private school because she completed kindergarten when she was four. She could already read. She was bored at the pre-school and ask to go to "big school" like her big brother. The problem was the public school would not let her go into first grade at 5ish. They wanted her to go into kindergarten again. So we went with hard private school. She liked it a lot until she got to 8th grade and the kids clicks started. She did not know how to be mean and rich smart kids can be real mean. She did great at the school work. So be aware of rich kid to kid issues.

When she graduated we wanted to put her in our local good public high school. The school would not register her in the advanced classes as they "had no common test scores" so we had to take her to get special tests over the summer. The public school had lots more class options and a lot of smart kids. But the school also had regular classes for regular kids and more diversity and less grade competition. Then the private high school wanted $$ for the next year before the public high school would commit to giving her good classes. It was a mess. We ended up sending her to the good (not great) private religious high school.

When she went to college she did not get state help due to going to a private high school. Kids that graduated in top 10% of public high schools got free college tuition..

It is a complex issue.
Good Luck.

cutterinnj
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by cutterinnj » Mon May 30, 2016 10:40 am

I can't imagine this means anything in 2016.
Today, you can learn pretty much anything online quite easily (Khan Academy, Open Courseware, etc...)

It has more to do with parents/family involvement than anything; if you encourage your children to learn, any school is probably fine.

Private schools likely have less oversight (teachers don't need credentials as they would for public schools) and the diversity of students your children would experience would probably be quite less than that experienced in public school.

I can't imagine there is a reason to spend money on private schools.

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black jack
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by black jack » Mon May 30, 2016 10:52 am

Everybody thinks they have insight into education because they went to school. To put that into a Boglehead context, that's like saying that everybody has insight into personal finance because they spend money. But people come to this site because they realize that there's a lot that can be learned about personal finance that's not obvious, or taught in schools, or even imparted by most parents; we benefit from the insights developed by professional and academic practitioners.

By the same token, I'm inclined to put more weight on the insights of education professionals like MSchleicher than on the random anecdotes of posters, even with the generally high quality of posters at this site. Two people attending the same school at the same time are unlikely to have the same experience, so how much can one learn from individual experiences, or comparisons of schools based on a handful of measures of questionable accuracy and import? Most of the research I've seen suggests that parental influence makes more of a difference than school, but again such studies are necessarily limited by the things we can measure. We can measure financial status across a broad population, but not happiness or engagement.

My parents sent me to a public elementary school and a private high school. The experience did not feel that different between the two, though I had no basis for comparison in either case (can't attend a public AND private elementary or high school at the same time). I did better in high school than the vast majority of my classmates who had attended private elementary school, and some friends who attended the public high school have done as well I have subsequently, at least measured financially.

I have a friend who theorized that elementary school was a more important period of learning than high school, so sent his children to a private elementary school and then public high school; they have turned out fine as well, and probably would have been fine in any case. Another friend theorized that giving her children experiences in other settings would be valuable, so she sent them to public schools and spent money to travel abroad with them during summers instead; her children have turned out fine as well - and probably would have been fine in any case.

I recently came across this article, the import of which would suggest that the public-private school choice doesn't matter, because they are equally deficient: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/ans ... -he-found/ In short, what he found was that schools pursue a variety of purposes, and as a result what we might consider the central purpose - helping kids learn - is diluted. I found this story eye--opening:
In my travels, I visited the Lawrenceville School, rated as one of the very best high schools in the United States. To its credit, Lawrenceville conducted a fascinating experiment a decade ago. After summer vacation, returning students retook the final exams they had completed in June for their science courses. Actually, they retook simplified versions of these exams, after faculty removed low-level “forgettable” questions The results were stunning. The average grade in June was a B+ (87 percent). When the simplified test was taken in September, the average grade plummeted to an F (58 percent). Not one student retained mastery of all key concepts they appear to have learned in June. The obvious question: if what was “learned” vanishes so quickly, was anything learned in the first place?
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btenny
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by btenny » Mon May 30, 2016 10:52 am

I also should note that when your kids get to high school there will be two levels of good to great private high schools if you live in a big city. Level 1 is the very small elite very expensive high school. These schools cost $25K per year in the 1990s, they are more now. There were also rigorous entrance exams. This type of school prepares kids for Harvard and similar private colleges. These schools are small with 5-10 kids per class and no or few athletics or band or similar stuff. Just really hard classes. Then there are the regular Level 2 good private high schools. Most of these are religious based. Again they have limited class choices but are much bigger schools. By now I am sure there are feeder grade schools for these two levels.

Good Luck.

sambb
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by sambb » Mon May 30, 2016 11:12 am

would definitely go private, no doubt

cheapindexer
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by cheapindexer » Mon May 30, 2016 11:32 am

After my wife and I have both attended public schools , state universities and gone on to become physician specialists , we are quite comfortable with our 3 kids all attending public schools.

Along the way , I have met people who attended public school in Detroit and went on to the Ivy League and careers in Pulmonary/critical care

Even in subpar public schools , it is possible , with dedicated parents , to do quite well or even excel.

I wholeheartedly agree with a prior suggestion that if the public schools are a concern , I would move before paying that much on private school

livesoft
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by livesoft » Mon May 30, 2016 11:46 am

I checked out greatschools.org for the high schools that my children attended and graduated from. I was appalled at the comments section which can be summarized as "Haters gonna hate." The rankings were quite good, but if a parent went by the comments, then there is probably no school in the USA that is worthy to send kids to.

But the OP wrote about a ranking of 3. That would give me pause. Plus the private school seems inexpensive to me at least based on the prices of private schools in my area. We didn't have to make this difficult choice since the public schools in our area are just as outstanding as the private schools even though they are quite different in size and other characteristics.

In the OP's situation I'd probably just send my kids to private school because it would just be easier on me. I would also very seriously consider moving to a better public school district if possible.

As for private school regrets, I've said before that my oldest went to private school only for kindergarten. It was a full-day kindergarten while public schools were half-day. We could pay for full-day kindergarten or pay for half-day daycare, so we chose to pay for full-day kindergarten. Since outcomes of the private K-12 school were no different than the outcomes of public K-12 school in our area, we switched to public schools for rest of education. Our next child went to kindergarten at the public school. They had added afterschool daycare by that time that was quite inexpensive.
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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MikeWillRetire » Mon May 30, 2016 11:53 am

We put our two sons in private school for kindergarten through 8th grade primarily because the school had daycare. My wife and I both work, so we liked the idea of dropping them off at the school's daycare without shuttling them. Those years forced us to live on a tight budget, and we didn't save any money for college. Then we put them in the local public high school, and that gave us 4 years to save for college (state university). Both of our sons are now in college doing well. No regrets.

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Kenster1
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Kenster1 » Mon May 30, 2016 11:56 am

It really really depends where we are talking about when it comes to Public schools. And it can be hard to make a blanket statement.

For example - are we talking about a public school in an middle-upper class Dallas Suburban neighborhood or Chicago Public School?

In the past - I had visited about 15 CPS schools because I was involved in a technology project and boy some of the things I saw scared me. One school had 2 separate buildings about 2-3 blocks apart. The Principal wouldn't let me walk to the 2nd building - he had the Vice Principal drive me over to their 2nd building.

Yes there are great public schools and public school districts but it can vary quite a bit.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Gill » Mon May 30, 2016 11:58 am

Just a personal story. I lived in a small blue collar industrial town in Western New York and attended the public schools through 8th grade where I was regularly on the honor roll. My father, who had a Canadian mother, felt strongly and correctly that the Canadian schools were far superior to our public schools and decided to send me for 9th grade to a nearby Canadian private boarding school for boys modeled after England's Eaton. It turned out to be a disaster for me. The strict discipline, rigorous academic requirements with 13 courses per term, being strapped by the Masters, requirement to attend chapel twice a day, the cadet corps, mandatory athletics, and the complete lack of a social life brought out the rebellion in this 14 year old. I took up smoking (with the risk of being caned by the Headmaster), gained a large amount of weight, didn't study and hated the entire experience. With my father's approval, the following year I was back in the public high school where, after some time to get reoriented, I eventually did well in the remaining years of high school, was admitted to an Ivy League University and later an Ivy League Law School, and all turned out well.

Looking back on it as an adult, I still feel it was a huge mistake to take a 14-year old boy out of a public school environment and hope he will do well in a strict and rigorous private boarding school situation. I was fortunate to overcome this major setback as I entered my teen years and I know my parents felt for the rest of their lives they had made a mistake in sending me there. I still think of how I hated that place!

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rai
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by rai » Mon May 30, 2016 12:42 pm

cutterinnj wrote:I can't imagine this means anything in 2016.
Today, you can learn pretty much anything online quite easily (Khan Academy, Open Courseware, etc...).
means nothing, I don't even know what you are trying to say.
cutterinnj wrote: It has more to do with parents/family involvement than anything; if you encourage your children to learn, any school is probably fine.
.
This has a ring of truth to it. It is the one thing you said that I agree with. But my point is sometimes it's easier for the kids to learn with better faculty, better facilities and when there is a health academic competition where all the kids are going on to 4-year colleges.
cutterinnj wrote: Private schools likely have less oversight (teachers don't need credentials as they would for public schools)
this is untrue and misleading. It's like saying the post office or TSA is better because they have more oversight than a pubic firm.
from our private school (real data):
111 faculty members 65% of faculty hold advanced degrees
Student/Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Average Class Size: 15
cutterinnj wrote: the diversity of students your children would experience would probably be quite less than that experienced in public school.
Untrue (at least in my real life experience) at our private school 45% of the student body belong to ethnic minorities.

If you are saying the private school is less diverse because there are no gang members that's true. But if you are saying it's less ethnically diverse then you are false.
cutterinnj wrote:I can't imagine there is a reason to spend money on private schools.
Again, this is your opinion. I suspect you wouldn't spend money on a private school so matter what the data says.

If I told you that 100% of (our) private HS grads were accepted at 4-year colleges does that mean anything to you?
Last edited by rai on Mon May 30, 2016 1:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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rai
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by rai » Mon May 30, 2016 12:49 pm

cheapindexer wrote:After my wife and I have both attended public schools , state universities and gone on to become physician specialists , we are quite comfortable with our 3 kids all attending public schools.

Along the way , I have met people who attended public school in Detroit and went on to the Ivy League and careers in Pulmonary/critical care

Even in subpar public schools , it is possible , with dedicated parents , to do quite well or even excel.

I wholeheartedly agree with a prior suggestion that if the public schools are a concern , I would move before paying that much on private school
I quite agree. I said prior guy I worked with sent his kids to public HS and they all got MD or engineering degrees from very nice schools. But at the same time, many other kids from that HS did not go on to college. So it is certainly a lot dependent on the parents. But we wanted our kids exposed to like minded kids who all were going on the college rather than a subset who were just happy to graduate HS.
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cutterinnj
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by cutterinnj » Mon May 30, 2016 1:15 pm

rai wrote:
cutterinnj wrote:I can't imagine this means anything in 2016.
Today, you can learn pretty much anything online quite easily (Khan Academy, Open Courseware, etc...).
means nothing, I don't even know what you are trying to say.
I'm saying that with today's commoditized online resources, a motivated person can learn whatever they'd like to online. You can take AP classes via "distance learning" if, for some reason, your school doesn't offer many of them (although it seems like pretty much all do these days compared to when I was a high school student in the early 1990's.)
cutterinnj wrote: It has more to do with parents/family involvement than anything; if you encourage your children to learn, any school is probably fine.
.
This has a ring of truth to it. It is the one thing you said that I agree with. But my point is sometimes it's easier for the kids to learn with better faculty and when there is a health academic competition where all the kids are going on to 4-year colleges.
cutterinnj wrote: Private schools likely have less oversight (teachers don't need credentials as they would for public schools)
this is untrue and misleading. It's like saying the post office or TSA is better because they have more oversight than a pubic firm.
from our private school (real data):
111 faculty members 65% of faculty hold advanced degrees
Student/Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Average Class Size: 15
It was my understanding that you NEED certain teaching qualifications to teach at most public schools; from speaking to many people I know who send children to private schools, they often hire teachers without significant experience (granted, probably not the "Philips Exeter Academy")
cutterinnj wrote: the diversity of students your children would experience would probably be quite less than that experienced in public school.
Untrue (at least in my real life experience) at our private school 45% of the student body belong to ethnic minorities.

If you are saying the private school is less diverse because there are no gang members that's true. But if you are saying it's less ethnically diverse then you are false.
I certainly have no hard data to back that up (just personal experience growing up in NY and articles like this: http://www.nysun.com/new-york/private-s ... non/39609/ )
cutterinnj wrote:I can't imagine there is a reason to spend money on private schools.
Again, this is your opinion. I suspect you wouldn't spend money on a private school so matter what the data says.
I want whatever is best for my children, like I would hope most would.
Having gone to public school for high school, then moving on to college with students who went to expensive private school, I'm not sure what the difference bought. AP classes are AP classes. Drama club is drama club. Why pay an extra $47,760 for the privilege of a nice sweater? http://www.riverdale.edu/page.cfm?p=786

If I told you that 100% of (our) private HS grads were accepted at 4-year colleges does that mean anything to you?[/quote]

That's great. I would imagine that if you have supportive parents who sent their kids to either private school or public school, the results likely be similar.
Last edited by cutterinnj on Mon May 30, 2016 1:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

sciliz
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by sciliz » Mon May 30, 2016 1:16 pm

Why is the school a 3?
What I mean by that is why are the standardized test scores so low? Standardized test scores are really the best proxy for parental income. So a "3" school on greatschools.com could have 90%+ of kids who qualify for free or reduced priced lunch. These schools have different challenges than schools with lower fractions of disadvantaged kids. They'll spend proportionately more of their budget on transportation and food services. They may get more federal dollars for school lunch program and Title I, which may partially compensate for a lower property tax base. If the total amount spent on student instruction is much lower than other schools in the general metro area, I'd be concerned. Even if the spending is adequate, I'd expect a good chunk of it to be spent on the kids with the greatest needs (this is not necessarily bad!).

Keep in mind that nationally the *average* is ~51% of kids qualifying for free and reduced price lunch. The typical kid in public school is disadvantaged. My kid's district is 70% free/reduced price lunch. But his individual school is a "7", and we've been quite comfortable there. My kid is under-challenged, but any first grader who can do division is going to be outside of the official curriculum. I strongly suspect most bogleheads- whether they used public or private schools- are sending their kids places that are not socioeconomically representative of the country at large. This is not a critique in any way, but just to provide context to the responses you get here. Also keep in mind many of the people saying to move to good school districts already have a significant fraction of their net worth invested in their own real estate in a good school district :wink:

For both the private school and the public school I'd reach out to the PTAs. If the public school doesn't even have one, that's a very strong sign the focus is going to be on getting kids to show up (and the school may be fighting an uphill battle to provide stability to the kids). On the other hand, many public schools with a chunk of disadvantaged kids actually have incredibly effective PTAs. What the PTA can give you insight into is how good each school is at dealing with working parents (assuming you are in a 2 career household, this can be a pretty big factor) and maybe how easy or hard it is for the school to keep good quality teachers.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 2:22 pm

rai wrote:I quite agree. I said prior guy I worked with sent his kids to public HS and they all got MD or engineering degrees from very nice schools. But at the same time, many other kids from that HS did not go on to college. So it is certainly a lot dependent on the parents. But we wanted our kids exposed to like minded kids who all were going on the college rather than a subset who were just happy to graduate HS.
I'd be willing to bet a lot of those individuals that were, "happy to graduate high school," opted to not go to college because their families didn't have the funds. If many students were promised a free college education, like that of many students that attend private high school, I'm sure they would attend. A 100% college acceptance rate only implies that the students had the means to afford college tuition; it doesn't mean that the school is superior to that of a public school or that the student body is more academically focused. There are plenty of students from private schools that rely on their parents' wealth and lack ambition.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 2:29 pm

sciliz wrote:Why is the school a 3?
What I mean by that is why are the standardized test scores so low? Standardized test scores are really the best proxy for parental income. So a "3" school on greatschools.com could have 90%+ of kids who qualify for free or reduced priced lunch. These schools have different challenges than schools with lower fractions of disadvantaged kids. They'll spend proportionately more of their budget on transportation and food services. They may get more federal dollars for school lunch program and Title I, which may partially compensate for a lower property tax base. If the total amount spent on student instruction is much lower than other schools in the general metro area, I'd be concerned. Even if the spending is adequate, I'd expect a good chunk of it to be spent on the kids with the greatest needs (this is not necessarily bad!).
A portion of Title I funds are usually used for instructional resources (e.g. technology, manipulatives, etc.) and family engagement (e.g. reading/math nights) that benefit all students. I have never heard of a Title I program that identifies students part their FARMS (free and reduced meals) data and allocates money that will benefit specific children that meet that criteria. Administration, resource staff, and teachers usually identify needs as identified in their School Improvement Plan and then allocate resources that address those targeted initiatives.
sciliz wrote: For both the private school and the public school I'd reach out to the PTAs. If the public school doesn't even have one, that's a very strong sign the focus is going to be on getting kids to show up (and the school may be fighting an uphill battle to provide stability to the kids). On the other hand, many public schools with a chunk of disadvantaged kids actually have incredibly effective PTAs. What the PTA can give you insight into is how good each school is at dealing with working parents (assuming you are in a 2 career household, this can be a pretty big factor) and maybe how easy or hard it is for the school to keep good quality teachers.
A strong PTA is good for the students. However, I would caution you to focus on this too heavily. Many schools with a strong working class tend to lack parental involvement at those meetings. That does not mean that the parents are disengaged.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by celia » Mon May 30, 2016 2:44 pm

I wouldn't put any weight into what GreatSchools says. It is more important to "know" your local schools. What is the parent involvement like? If no-one shows up for back-to-school night, that is a bad sign. If parents don't know the names of their kids' teachers, that is a bad sign. If the parents have never met the teachers, that is a bad sign. (We went to back-to-school night at our local public schools even when we didn't have kids there and learned a lot. We also went to Information Nights at various private schools and learned a lot.)

Good signs are that the teachers themselves send their kids to the schools. Attendance is 98% or better every day. The number of a high school's graduates each year is 90% of the number of NEW students entering the school's 9th grade. (A school can claim they have a high graduation rate when they are comparing only the # graduates to the number of 12th graders enrolled. What about all the kids who repeated courses or dropped out between 9th and 12th?)

Talk to teachers in both schools. Where do they (or their co-workers) send their kids? They are the ones who are in "the know".
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by ks289 » Mon May 30, 2016 4:29 pm

I am slightly biased towards the public option here since I attended public school K-12, and my kids have attended public elementary school.

However, a greatschools score of 3 would concern me. Low test scores reflect poorly on the abilities of the other students and/or the quality of the school. Whether those factors would be impediments to my child's achievement is unknowable, but with a relatively inexpensive private school that you are interested in, this would be a no-brainer for me.
The costs of selling your home, moving, and buying a home in a more attractive school district would likely exceed the tuition numbers you quoted.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by psteinx » Mon May 30, 2016 4:45 pm

On the one hand, don't get overobsessed on the test scores at a given school. Just because you send your kid to that school, doesn't mean your kid will get the test score average (good or bad) for that school.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want a kid to be too far away from the broad middle of the bell curve at a given school. A kid who is very bright - say one who tests at the 95th percentile or above, is likely to be under challenged going to a school where her classmates are pretty much all between the 30th and the 70th percentile - there will be peer effects, and teachers will likely teach towards the middle of the class, or maybe even the lower end.

Put the same kid in a school where her classmates test 10th to 50th percentile, and the effect will be even worse.

But look at other factors too - school size, programs, average class sizes, discipline issues or lack thereof, etc...

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Rodc » Mon May 30, 2016 5:00 pm

BIL sent his two kids, a boy and a girl to a very expensive private school.

Just not a good fit for the girl, transferred to the local public schools in late elementary (Fairfax county, some of the best public schools in the country), which was a better fit.

Worked fine for the boy up until about grade 9 when they stopped fooling themselves that they could afford it. Was a hard transition for the boy to take as he had by then internalized the message that he was just super special and public schools were for losers. Unfortunately the public high school turned out to be more rigorous and sort of kicked his butt a little. Also unfortunately they had not saved much for college because too much went to private school - and in the end there was no real benefit, and he ended up struggling in the local community college.

I have of course known kids to do very well in private schools. Or course many of them might have done in fine the local public schools, who knows.

It matters a lot what specific options you have locally and on the fit to your particular child. No one's experience here can help with either of those.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by bayview » Mon May 30, 2016 5:18 pm

We did public schools through 5th grade, then switched to private (a truly rigorous college prep school, with the requisite number of rich partier kids to keep it afloat financially.) No regrets; I had worked in the local middle and high schools and knew what was coming in terms of the negative peer pressure for kids who wanted to learn. The oldest was in the public middle school, and although we liked the teachers, the students made life hell.

I think there's a lot to be said for private school in grades 6-8, especially a small school with a lot of academic rigor (how to write a paper, what critical thinking is, etc.) Those are the crazy years (and I do remember my junior high. :D)
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon May 30, 2016 5:28 pm

Rodc wrote:Unfortunately the public high school turned out to be more rigorous and sort of kicked his butt a little.
It's difficult to evaluate different schools by how hard it kicks your butt when you change. Different syllabi can kick butt going both ways. Trig v. Euclidean geometry, French v. Russian, ancient history v. Age of Exploration, zoology v. botany. You get no credit for knowing things that aren't on the program and D's for not knowing the things that are.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Rodc » Mon May 30, 2016 7:17 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
Rodc wrote:Unfortunately the public high school turned out to be more rigorous and sort of kicked his butt a little.
It's difficult to evaluate different schools by how hard it kicks your butt when you change. Different syllabi can kick butt going both ways. Trig v. Euclidean geometry, French v. Russian, ancient history v. Age of Exploration, zoology v. botany. You get no credit for knowing things that aren't on the program and D's for not knowing the things that are.
Yes in general, but likely not the main issue in this case. My wife taught high school in the area and knows the schools and many of the teachers well.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by HomerJ » Mon May 30, 2016 7:33 pm

rai wrote:Of course some from public schools also can and do get accepted to the higher level colleges no doubt. But it's the percentage that I think about.
Very silly to worry about the percentages... If "only" 60% of the kids in the public high school go on to a 4-year college, does that mean YOUR kid only has a 60% chance? Of course not. It means your kid will be in the 60%, and in advanced classes with all the other kids who are going to college.

Also interesting tidbit.. Most freshmen at Harvard went to public high school. But of course, that's skewed and somewhat meaningless data because there are a ton more public school students in the U.S. than private school students.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/ ... hy/?page=2

Class of 2017 statistics - Harvard
Sixty-one percent of the surveyed freshmen indicated they went to a public high school, and 38 percent said they attended a private one. Less than one percent of the respondents were homeschooled.

----------
rai wrote:I have a friend of mine who's kids went to the public schools and they all are doctors and engineers from good colleges. But I know others who went to the same school who are floundering around in college just taking up space.
In other words, the school isn't the deciding factor... I have ZERO doubt that your kids would have done fine in a normal decent-to-good public school, and you could have saved half a million dollars.

I'm not saying that private school didn't help. Maybe it did. Maybe they got in a slightly better college because of it. But it wasn't the difference between your kids graduating from a good college, and flunking out of community college.

Your kids' abilities, and you, the parents, account for 95%+ of what made them successful. Not the private school. They would have been fine either way.
Last edited by HomerJ on Mon May 30, 2016 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Moolala » Mon May 30, 2016 7:40 pm

I would recommend you first visit the public school and speak to potential teachers (so many schools have nights for prospective parents that showcase the schools and they are very worthwhile) and if you think that it would be an okay place to send your child, give it a shot and be sure to be an involved parent. No need to helicopter over your child's life, but be involved with the school! You can help make it a better place while contributing to your child's education. If public school doesn't work, consider private school but know that the biggest issue you are likely to confront in early grades is related to values (i.e. "no violence" and "treat others with respect") and what you want to teach your child versus what he or she picks up at the school. There are many ways to get around issues related to value discrepancies, and there are certainly things your child could pick up at a private school, but if public school doesn't work you can always move your child to the private school if need be.

I was in and out of private and public schools growing up because my parents wanted me to experience the best, and there were benefits and issues with both. Looking back, I doubt their investment in private schools made a difference. The biggest influences they had were in teaching me to love learning at home and having deep conversations with me at the dinner table.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by EnjoyIt » Mon May 30, 2016 7:44 pm

btenny wrote:She did not know how to be mean and rich smart kids can be real mean. She did great at the school work. So be aware of rich kid to kid issues.
I can't stress enough how I do not want my kids thinking that they are rich or deserve things just because their parents have money. My blood pressure is up 20 points just thinking about it.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Rodc » Mon May 30, 2016 7:52 pm

Of course some from public schools also can and do get accepted to the higher level colleges no doubt.
Our local public non-exam high school last I knew (a year or two ago) was in the top five schools in the country (the others were private if I recall correctly) for sending kids to Harvard.

In 7th grade honors math the teacher via the Socratic method had the kids discovering largely on their own all the linear algebra and group theory behind the RSA encryption algorithm (which I learned as a senior math major).

The downside is more peer pressure than you might want, and a 90th percentile SAT is the school average so a 75th percentile kid can feel not very smart.

So depending on the child is can be anywhere from fabulous to not good.

In the end looking at this as an issue of private vs public is really the wrong lens. Either can be great, poor or in between.

You have to look at your specific local options and you have to decide which is the best fit for your particular child.

There is no one "private school" and no one "public school" - both come in many flavors and qualities.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by ks289 » Mon May 30, 2016 7:55 pm

HomerJ wrote:
rai wrote:Of course some from public schools also can and do get accepted to the higher level colleges no doubt. But it's the percentage that I think about.
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/ ... hy/?page=2

Class of 2017 statistics - Harvard
Sixty-one percent of the surveyed freshmen indicated they went to a public high school, and 38 percent said they attended a private one. Less than one percent of the respondents were homeschooled.
----------
rai wrote:I have a friend of mine who's kids went to the public schools and they all are doctors and engineers from good colleges. But I know others who went to the same school who are floundering around in college just taking up space.
In other words, the school isn't the deciding factor... I have ZERO doubt that your kids would have done fine in a normal decent-to-good public school, and you could have saved half a million dollars.

I'm not saying that private school didn't help. Maybe it did. Maybe they got in a slightly better college because of it. But it wasn't the difference between your kids graduating from a good college, and flunking out of community college.

Your kids' abilities, and you, the parents, account for 95%+ of what made them successful. Not the private school. They would have been fine either way.
I think that you are probably right about the 95% idea (student's ability + parental support are key factors), but the reality is this is may change when talking about a public school rated 1-3 versus school rated 8-10.

Part of me reason IMO that parents who prioritize education make such a difference in the achievement of their kids is that they provide more support (time, money, guidance, etc) AND seek the best opportunities (including if possible moving to a better school district or going with a superior private school if clearly a better option). In other words, parents actively seeking out the best school (public or private) for their kids is baked in to that 95% success number.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by RunningRad » Mon May 30, 2016 8:31 pm

We live in a 9/10 district, and we intentionally moved a block and a half from a 10 elementary school soon after my son was born. Despite this, we recognized early that my son needed some extra support with his mild learning disability. He has thrived in a private school, from K-12, and we have no regrets. My younger daughter followed my son to the private school, and we moved her to the public middle school in 6th grade where she is as happy as a middle school girl can be. It's seems to be the right fit for her. Every child is different.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by edge » Mon May 30, 2016 8:32 pm

3 is terrible. Generally speaking a ranking of 3 ends up being in an undesirable area to live unless it is just completely rural and poor. In which case the trade offs involve 'love of living in the undeveloped countryside', etc. If the 'undesirable location' generality is true in your case, you might consider moving.

600$ a month? I can't say whether or not that is a lot for you but generally speaking that is extremely inexpensive for a 'good' private school.
Lacrab wrote:Hello to you fine financial folk of the the forums, happy Memorial Day!

My wife and I are pondering enrolling in a local private academy, he is four and we are figuring this out a year in advance so there are no hiccups next summer. The grade school in our area has a ranking on Greatschools.org of 3.

Yes 3.

So we are a little underwhelmed. Though we know people in the area who have kids who went and are going there, and the summary of my impressions is "Meh, it ain't bad." So there is a free school that people aren't really excited about but dutifully send their kids to. There is this outstanding Academy that I think would be great for him, that would only be about $600 a month.

My hang up is spending money on something when there is a free option that isn't great but isn't awful. We can afford this with no problem, but obviously I would hate to look back and say we spent nine years and $54,000 dollars to be able to feel better about ourselves. That is my fear.

Experience? Advice? Anecdotal stories? Did everyone send their kids to public school? Private? Regrets? Please share!
Last edited by edge on Mon May 30, 2016 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon May 30, 2016 8:37 pm

$600 a month for 9 months a year is half what the cheapest private schools cost near me.

Our biggest regret with 3 years of private middle school for our son was that he was a full year behind public school when he returned for public high school.
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 8:41 pm

edge wrote:3 is terrible. Generally speaking a ranking of 3 ends up being in an undesirable area to live. If this generality is true in your case, you might consider moving.
As mentioned earlier, the rating system Great Schools uses is flawed. In many cases, all they use is standardized test scores. Those scores, in many cases, are irrelevant, with the implementation of Common Core. Many school districts have revised their curriculum since their state likely adopted the new standards. With the new standards came new assessments. The information on Great Schools uses data from assessments that were administered over two years ago.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by edge » Mon May 30, 2016 8:44 pm

MSchleicher wrote:
edge wrote:3 is terrible. Generally speaking a ranking of 3 ends up being in an undesirable area to live. If this generality is true in your case, you might consider moving.
As mentioned earlier, the rating system Great Schools uses is flawed. In many cases, all they use is standardized test scores. Those scores, in many cases, are irrelevant, with the implementation of Common Core. Many school districts have revised their curriculum since their state likely adopted the new standards. With the new standards came new assessments. The information on Great Schools uses data from assessments that were administered over two years ago.
Dunno, I suspect if the OP posted the demographics and other performance metrics of the school it would not be stellar. Can you point to any 'great' or 'good' schools with a rating of 3? If not, I don't think the OP lives in a unicorn school district.

I'd be willing to bet a lot of those individuals that were, "happy to graduate high school," opted to not go to college because their families didn't have the funds. If many students were promised a free college education, like that of many students that attend private high school, I'm sure they would attend. A 100% college acceptance rate only implies that the students had the means to afford college tuition; it doesn't mean that the school is superior to that of a public school or that the student body is more academically focused. There are plenty of students from private schools that rely on their parents' wealth and lack ambition.
This is also not helpful at all. Peer competition is a big motivating factor. If the entire peer group is 'too poor' to go to college despite the massive student loan industry, that is a huge turnoff.
Last edited by edge on Mon May 30, 2016 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MSchleicher
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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 8:48 pm

edge wrote: Dunno, I suspect if the OP posted the demographics and other performance metrics of the school it would not be stellar. Can you point to any 'great' or 'good' schools with a rating of 3? If not, I don't think the OP lives in a unicorn school district.
What demographics make a school stellar? I didn't know a certain group made one school superior to another.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by edge » Mon May 30, 2016 8:51 pm

MSchleicher wrote:
edge wrote: Dunno, I suspect if the OP posted the demographics and other performance metrics of the school it would not be stellar. Can you point to any 'great' or 'good' schools with a rating of 3? If not, I don't think the OP lives in a unicorn school district.
What demographics make a school stellar? I didn't know a certain group made one school superior to another.
I would say scores like number of ESL students is problematic as the school has to focus resources on them. And to be frank, the extreme non-english speaking poor parents who do not have time (literally/sadly) to help their children learn simply slow things down. That is life. They are doing the best they can working 2+ jobs but there is only so much energy and time in the day and they themselves might not be able to help because they don't understand the material.

Anyway, seems like a side topic. Regardless of the underlying factors, I am missing the 'awesome' score 3 schools with the abundance of Michelle Pfeiffer martyr/hero school teachers. School teaching is an honorable profession, don't get me wrong. But let's not pretend all the best/brightest migrate to poor schools.

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Re: Private school? Any regrets?

Post by MSchleicher » Mon May 30, 2016 8:59 pm

edge wrote: I would say scores like number of ESL students is problematic as the school has to focus resources on them. And to be frank, the extreme non-english speaking poor parents who do not have time (literally/sadly) to help their children learn simply slow things down. That is life. They are doing the best they can working 2+ jobs but there is only so much energy and time in the day.
Schools districts receive additional funding through the federal Title III Program to benefit all students that are not native English speakers acquire the English language. Schools with higher LEP (limited-English proficiency) populations receive more assistance. As an educator, I find it comforting to know that students who need additional support systems have access to the resources they need. Those resources help classroom teachers provide better instruction to all of their students.

OP: Please be sure to do your research on both the public school district and private schools that you are considering. Ask questions about their curricula, pedagogy, technology, etc. If you have questions, consider joining a discussion forum intended for professionals in the field of education.
Last edited by MSchleicher on Mon May 30, 2016 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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