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Public vs. Private

April 1, 2010

You wouldn’t believe some of the reactions I get from people when they find out that Maya will be starting kindergarten this fall…at a public school.  It alternatively cracks me up and annoys me that people think public school is a dirty word.  Honestly, the elementary schools in our area are fantastic, and as Ali pointed out, why pay 5 years worth of tuition when Maya can get an equivalent education for free?  

Ali actually had a good point.  For a change.

So here I was thinking that I saved myself a ton of money AND extra work by not applying to private school…no essays to write, no interviews to attend, no recommendations to obtain, no donations to be made, and no you-know-whats to kiss to expedite admission.  But then I received a thick enrollment packet from Maya’s elementary school full of waivers,  questionnaires, health cards, and verifications.  After many curses, a few eyeball rolls, and a flung pen or two, I stopped procrastinating and decided to get to work.

I completed and signed all the forms I could, dropped by Maya’s dentist for a signature, and then ran to the other side of the city to get Maya’s doctor’s signature.  At that point the doctor informed me that Maya needed a TB test, and an eye and ear exam.  I rolled my eyes again, battled the traffic, picked Maya up, and drove back to the doctor.

Here she is moments before the shot, asking the nurse just how much “a little poke” is going to hurt:

After much crying and other unneccessary dramatic effects, we left with a sparkly band-aid and a Hot Wheels sticker.  Maya demands her freebies, whether or not she is hysterical.

I had every intention of buying Maya a dessert somewhere to “reward” her for being a good girl, but when I opened her lunchbox to get her water bottle and found her apples and broccoli untouched, I told her to forget about it. 

“I’m very disappointed in you Maya.”

“I’m trying really hard, Mama.”  This is her standard answer for everything because she knows when she uses this phrase I will immediately forgive and forget. Which I did. 

20 minutes later we were at Urth Caffe and Maya was drinking the hot chocolate I told her she couldn’t have:

I had a much-needed and very delicious almond milk Italian cappuccino:

We were just hanging out, enjoying the sunshine when a giant bug flew into Maya’s hot chocolate.  She took it surprisingly well considering she still had half of her drink left.  Since she didn’t complain too much I let her pick out a bath toy from a nearby toy store:

“It’s just what I always wanted, Mama.”  She says this about everything.  Can you tell the canned responses drive me nuts?

We have to head back to the doctor on Friday to have Maya’s TB test read and then Ali and I have to attend parent orientation later this month.  Why is everything kid-related so involved? 

If/when you have kids would you enroll them in public or private school?

31 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2010 7:15 pm

    GOOD for you for just doing what you feel is best for your family and Maya!

    That said an owl just flew in thru the window with a letter from Hogwarts. … I guess JJ got accpeted!

    GREAT. just what I wanted to get him… a wand and a toad!

    I actually have NO idea what we are going to do with Mr. Crazy pants. Our doc just told us to start looking at Montessori schools..He just turned 2 for pete’s sake.

    a 2 yo who think’s he’s Jimmy Hendrix.

    ps…Love Maya’s antics! they make me LAUGH!!! you are a nut~

    and an almond milk Italian coffee….oh MY!

  2. April 2, 2010 12:43 am

    When I read “It’s just what I always wanted, Mama.” and that she says that about everything, I couldn’t help nodding my head. Ask my husband and mother, they’ll tell you I do the same. Whenever I go shopping, I find stuff that “I always wanted” and “been looking for so long but never found”…

  3. April 2, 2010 4:06 am

    I went to private and public school (private for elementary and middle school, public for high school) and loved both! People can be so snobby about public schools, but sometimes the public schools are 100 x better than the private ones!

  4. April 2, 2010 5:10 am

    Hey, what’s wrong with public schools? That’s where I teach! I think it all depends on the quality of the teachers so do your research! I will definitely do mine when it comes time to enroll my little ones but neither one is better than the other.

  5. April 2, 2010 6:08 am

    i went to a public school in a district that was known for being a good school system. granted, i don’t think my parent could have afforded private if they wanted to butttt public school is awesome.

    so good for you for doing what’s best for you. and maya 🙂

  6. April 2, 2010 6:18 am

    I went to both private and public, and I currently teach at an independent school, which I really enjoy. That said, if I had children and if I lived in an area where the public schools were good, I would not hesitate at all to send them to a public school.

  7. April 2, 2010 6:32 am

    Kids find phrases that work and use them all the time. I’m the same way with my parents… I know what will get me what I want, and what will get me off the hook. They’re well aware that I abuse my powers, but I like to think they love me and let it pass…

    I think being hung up about enrolling kids in one school vs. another is stupid. As long as the quality of education is high and the teachers are good, I don’t see any difference between public and private schools. I never attended any private schools and I’m doing just fine 🙂

  8. fitandfortysomething permalink
    April 2, 2010 6:32 am

    Since I have taught at both… opinion public. Do you know that some private schools do not hire credentialed teachers? Here you are paying money and you get people who have never been trained as teachers…..Just something to think about!
    Great post 🙂

  9. April 2, 2010 7:09 am

    I think you are making the best decision for Maya and for your family in general. Knowing how much you love Maya and care about her well being, I know you’ve thought long and hard about this.
    I personally believe fully in public schools. I went to public schools my whole life and I respect them and adore them. There is nothing that states that private schools are better. But I have run into so many people who would rather pay for the “title” though the school may not hold a candle to that of the public system.
    I bet the pressure can be overwhelming, good for you for following your heart!

  10. April 2, 2010 7:20 am

    I went to public school and turned out just fine. No felonies, no teen pregnancies, no drugs, and good grades. I hate hearing about how public school is so bad. I guess it is in certain areas (like DC, which has a *horrible* public school system) but most places are good. Besides, whenever I think of private school I think of Gossip Girl. And that makes me cringe.

  11. April 2, 2010 7:23 am

    I was raised in public school, and I turned out pretty okay. Highest scores on the AP tests, National Merit Scholar, graduated a year early from college. They trained me well.

  12. April 2, 2010 7:42 am

    I can’t believe the uproar about Maya not going to a private school. That must be more common these days. If we ever have kids, I would like to consider home-schooling.

    Maya is so sweet. Even with those canned responses 😉

  13. April 2, 2010 7:49 am

    my kids are going to a public school. without a doubt. hopefully in the north US because i despise the southern school programs down here. i attended a blue ribbon public school k-12 and got a DAM$&#ED good education, and college was a breeze to keep a 4.0 because i had already been taught everything. moving to the south, you see such a difference in education, common sense, and literacy especially with simple things like spelling and grammar…

  14. April 2, 2010 8:22 am

    aww Maya is So Adorable! Love her smile before she got that shot 🙂

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with (most) public schools. I grew up in Illinois and I do think that the school system up north is waaay better than where I am now (Texas). I started in Montessori which I really recommend and then went to public school until Middle School. Then, I was homeschooled until high school…lots of changes, but I think it all worked out for me!

    I don’t know that I ever want to have kids, but I think I would definitely start them in Montessori as well, then probably home school them!

  15. April 2, 2010 9:08 am

    Makenzie will definitely go to public school. She will go to our church’s nursery for preschool when we get around to that but afterwards it will definitely be public. After teaching in the public schools, I think they aren’t much different from private. And all that matters is the teachers care and they teach the required material. Besides, the mandated curriculum is the same for both. Private just has a bit more leeway in the approach to teaching the material. So, like you said, if they are learning the same thing why pay? Unless you are in an area you don’t trust the public school or something.

  16. April 2, 2010 10:23 am

    My 1st grader is in a very good public school. BUT the elementary school finishes at 2:30 and some of them go to an after-school school via transport arranged by that school. Money-wise we saved just a little since in the after-school, she is signed up for art and math and such. I am wondering – if the curriculum is all equal – that she’d be better off in one school which has programs after their normal hours. Sometimes she came home with attitude issues and I was wondering which school she picked up from and which teacher to contact. Her homework gets done after dinner and by that time she is tired and cranky. The flip side is that she gets to know more friends from other schools. Comparing skills with her cousin in a Montessori school in SoCal, her same-grade cousin’s math and verbal skills are higher. I want to look into private schools (Challenger, Stratford, independent and church-affiliated) and talk to other parents as well. Seriously I don’t mind public schools if we are not tardy and not getting attendance warnings and getting reported to the school district for being late 7 times in one qtr. OK – it’s the parents’ fault……

  17. April 2, 2010 11:09 am

    haha snooty LA, looking down on public school…i went to one and loved it! i say, if the school is decent, why not?! love those urth drinks by the way…MMM!!!!!

  18. April 2, 2010 12:51 pm

    I went to public school until 5th grade, then switched to private. I liked the mix of both, and I think I turned out pretty well considering what goes on at some NYC private schools!

  19. April 2, 2010 2:16 pm

    I’m so pleased to read all of these comments that are so supportive of public schools!! I teach 1st grade in a public school and I can tell you that I don’t know of any teacher at my school who isn’t passionate and hard working. We all work so hard to give these kids the best possible education. If anything, public school teachers are more motivated to teach their kids well due to more and more standardized testing. We HAVE to do our job well b/c we have to show that our students know their stuff. I really don’t know how private schools work so I have nothing negative to say about them, but why pay money to send your kid to school? I’m so happy that you have such confidence in your public school system!! Maya will have much success!! 🙂 Although, I agree, there is way too much paperwork that parents have to fill out – even in public schools!! Teachers hate having to sort through it all too when it’s sent back in, haha! 😉

  20. April 2, 2010 3:07 pm

    I’ve had many friends who went to public school and enjoyed it. I ended up going to private during all my phases of schooling. But definitely do what you think is best for you and your family. Don’t let anyone else say otherwise.

  21. April 2, 2010 3:26 pm

    First off, Anna is so witty ..” I’m trying really hard mama” cute..also gorgeous.
    Next, wow, kindergarten hey? She is so grown up.
    Lastly, I won’t have kids. For sure. But nothing wrong with public. Although its questionable given the school shootings…and the recent tragic death of the girl who was bullied…what the hell is going on in the world?

  22. whydeprive permalink
    April 2, 2010 3:31 pm

    Maybe its different in Canada but I dont only know one person that went to private school.
    As far as I know theres only one around here, and the people there are known to be really snotty.
    Im all for public school 🙂

  23. April 2, 2010 3:43 pm

    I love the pattern in your cappacino 🙂
    Unless you live in an area with horrible, negligent public schools, I’m all about public schools! An uninterested kid at a private school won’t do any better than one in public. Plus, the system is so racially/socio-economically/ethnically elitist, I don’t believe in perpetuating that by sending my (future) kids to private school and further segregating our nation’s public schools.
    BTW, I went to public schools my entire life and now go to an IVy League college. Maya seems so bright (and cute) that she’ll be fine anywhere, I’d say! Whew, I have a lot of opinions here I guess. Thanks for sharing!

  24. April 2, 2010 4:01 pm

    Just so you know, everything I’m about to say is related to the teaching system in Canada cause I have never taught in the States so I don’t know how different it is there. If I were to choose for my own children I’d probably lean more towards the public system because that’s the system I was brought up in. In my opinion, the public system follows the curriculum more closely/strictly than the private system. I find that the private system is more lenient on the material they teach their students. When I was interviewed for my teaching job, the public schools asked a lot more questions related to how I would deal with situations while keeping my students in perspective. The private schools asked questions mainly related to me and not much to do with how I would interact with my students. Another huge factor that you may be interested to know is that the private system can hire anybody, even someone without the proper teaching credentials. With the public system you have to have the proper teaching credentials AND you could be “randomly” picked to do a criminal check. Sorry for the essay of a comment. I really hope that helps even if it is based on the Canadian teaching system. What a great question that was Ameena. I’m now going to read what your other readers have to say about this topic. Hope you have a wonderful long weekend!

  25. 5kidswdisabilities permalink
    April 2, 2010 6:47 pm

    I have had very good luck with public schools. Because they are public schools they are eligible for all kinds of special grants for reading comprehension, computers, social skills groups and so forth. Private schools are funded only by tuition and their resources may actually be more limited. Also, believe it or not, I find that many kids going to private schools are over-indulged and spoiled.
    Lindsey Petersen

  26. April 2, 2010 7:16 pm

    1) public vs private school just depends so many factors like the kid and the location and ect ect. If I EVER get to that life stage I will definately want to go public if possible, but if we live in a ghetto fabulous district we will pay the extra. I love that I have already made these great decisions by myself, hope Mr. Right agrees!

    2)Also this coffee place seems amazing…I want a cappucino that looks like an artist painted on the top of it!

  27. April 2, 2010 8:02 pm

    “It’s just what I always wanted…” Ahahaha. Love it. I think I said that about every other thing I owned as a 5-year-old. And then I forgot about it the next year. Wait… actually that still applies today…

  28. April 3, 2010 9:17 am

    as always, such a cute story!

    both my kids are in public school. we picked our township when my 10-yr old was a toddler, just for the school system. we are very happy with the education(s) they are receiving.

    yes, the paperwork is a pain in the rear, but trust me, maya will do beautifully there.

  29. April 3, 2010 2:29 pm

    Andy teaches at a public school and I work at a public preschool. Both schools are fantastic! I’m very pro-public school as long as the parent researchs their chosen school beforehand. Andy had a student accepted at Harvard! Proof that public school is just as good as private. I think you made an excellent decision for Maya.

    I cracked up at the “I’m trying really hard mama!” Adorable!

  30. April 4, 2010 5:30 am

    My mom forced private school on my sister and I and we HATED it…it will be public school for my future kiddies all the way! 🙂

  31. April 6, 2010 8:57 pm

    In defense of independent schools…
    Okay, I already said my non-biased piece, and I do think that it really doesn’t matter that much as long as the student does receive a good education (whatever that means – I think it’s a broad spectrum, really) and as long as the family is happy. The cost difference between public and independent schools is quite huge, but I would also say that the relationship between student and teacher is also pretty significant. Maybe not so much at the elementary level, but here in the LA area, with all of the budget cuts, the classes usually have over 30 students. Currently, the largest class that I teach has 16 students. That’s not standard, but a class of 20 is considered a large class at my school, which means that I can give students quite a bit of individual time.
    Also, while many independent school teachers do not have teaching credentials (I’m one of those), we do have a master’s or a PhD in the subject area that we teach, and I know that I am subjected to a very rigorous evaluation system (student evaluations on a regular basis, observations from department head and other administrators, in addition to my own self-evaluation and goals that I have to set for myself).
    Ultimately, it really depends on the school. Someone mentioned that private (or independent, as those of us who teach at them like to say) schools depend on tuition to pay for resources. It depends on the school. Like universities, most private schools do have a foundation that helps support the school. Rather than a politically-run school board, there is a board, but it is usually peppered with people who have a long-term interest in the school’s success. Also, there are many grants and fellowships that help support independent schools.
    Finally, for me, I feel very connected to all aspects of the school. I’m an administrator AND a teacher (a teacher first, really), so there isn’t the sense of “us” vs. “them” that frequently exists in the public school sphere. For instance, we just went through our accreditation process (every 6 years), and every single person on faculty and staff was involved. I really enjoy the students whom I teach, and it’s great to see them come back to the school when they’ve graduated to talk about their college experience. I also have a great relationship with the parents of the students I teach.
    Lastly, I love that I actually teach Spanish rather than just “managing” students or worrying about test scores.
    As I said, I wouldn’t immediately send my own children (oh, my dogs?!) to an independent school or to a public school, but I did actually want to give a plug to independent schools because I think that they do good work.

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