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Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - slejhamer - Aug 25, 2004

Greetings all!

I'd appreciate any opinions on this situation.

Our older daughter (age 5) is set to begin kindergarten in a couple of weeks, and we had enrolled her in the local public elementary school. Previously she had attended pre-school at our Lutheran church.

Though our county school system is ranked among the top public systems in the US, we recently learned of some social and educational problems at this particular school. As such, we decided to move her to a newly-built Catholic school and received word of her acceptance last night. (The school does an in-depth job of screening applicants, even at the kindergarten level.)

Though it will cost quite a bit of money to send her to this school, we believe she will receive a better education and be in a more nurturing environment than if she had gone to the public school. The class sizes are smaller by half, and our understanding is that the parents are quite involved with the educational process.

As I'm not at all familiar with Catholic or Christian elementary schools (having gone to public schools myself, way back when ...), I'm looking for opinions as to the quality of education one receives, and any other benefits to which we can look forward or concerns of which we should be aware.

Thanks in advance for any insights you can offer.


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - Rufus - Aug 25, 2004

I shall do some research, and see what turns up.

I'll have to be careful not to offend Catholics on this site! Big Grin

I mean, they are great folks, you know, it's just that C of E is better, (ducks as eggs are thrown).

Seriously though, having no pups myself, it makes it a tough question, but I'll see what I can see. Meanwhile, someone else may come and chew the rag.


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - Rufus - Aug 25, 2004

http://www.wwrn.org/parse.php?idd=9689&c=69

http://www.heritage.org/Research/UrbanIssues/BG1128.cfm

http://www.garincollege.ac.nz/TheCatholicSchool.htm

http://www.archstl.org/education/elementaryschools/choosing.pdf

http://www.qcec.qld.catholic.edu.au/C&A/Newslettercontent_Thefacts.htm

Here's a start while I keep digging..........

HTH!


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - slejhamer - Aug 25, 2004

Thanks Rufus! I'll give those a look.

Also I don't want to limit responses to parents, but would also appreciate insights from forum members who have been through such a school themselves. And obviously my interest is more in a comparison of public school vs. "Christ-centered" school, rather than Christian vs. Catholic programs. Wink

That being said, a concern we had with one of the Christian schools we researched was that they wanted us to buy a lot of educational products such as study-at-home DVDs. At almost US$1,000 per set - on top of tuition - it seems quite a stretch. The Catholic school we chose, while strongly promoting parental involvement at home, does not require 3rd-party products be purchased. I found that difference quite curious.


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - de_axeman - Aug 25, 2004

I've never been to a Christian school, and have only experienced public education myself. I also am not a parent.

I think that the public school system was fine for me - I had some good teachers and I had some bad ones. The quality of education was acceptable. I've had the privilege of being in an 'elite' (for lack of a better word) school as well as in an average school, and I can't say that I would've succeeded greatly or failed miserably in either one of them. I did prefer the better school though, because there was a culture there to succeed and do well, and the teachers were genuinely interested in teaching us something.

Apart from good quality education, the main thing I feel is important (and sorely lacking in many schools today) is discipline. I'm not talking about corporal punishment and strict rules, but values that teach kids to be responsible for their actions and the consequences thereof. That living for the moment is not how you build your future and that their lives have so much meaning and potential in their God-given destinies.

My parents (who were not Christian when I was a child) instilled good values in my life which stood me in good stead, so I was always sensible enough not to smoke, drink or do drugs and succumb to many of the peer pressures at school. They sacrificed their careers in Malaysia to migrate over to Australia that might have a good education and better opoortunities than they did.

I guess the point I'm trying to make in a roundabout way is that you do what you can for your kids - what you feel is right in your hearts, love them and pray for them constantly, trusting in God to work in their lives. If you feel that investing in private education is the best way to care for your kids, it probably is. Wink


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - slejhamer - Aug 25, 2004

Axeman, thanks for your very thoughtful reply.

I think the comment that sums it up nicely is "I did prefer the better school though, because there was a culture there to succeed and do well, and the teachers were genuinely interested in teaching us something."

As I think about our reasons for switching, the underlying element was the culture at the public school. (Again, I'm talking about a particular school, not public schools in general.)

Your closing paragraph is also much appreciated. Smile


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - slejhamer - Aug 25, 2004

Rufus, thanks again for those articles.

The "Urban Issues" piece hints at some of the issues we are facing in the public school, while the Garin College article was very insightful; hopefully his attitude can be found throughout the worldwide Catholic school community.

I appreciate your taking the time to dig up the links.

Now, I think my wife just volunteered me to be the event photographer for parent-teacher "family fun night" ... this isn't exactly what I meant by "parental involvement" !!!


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - de_axeman - Aug 25, 2004

Hahaha... look on the bright side - it could've been a working bee... Big Grin


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - shuttertalk - Aug 25, 2004

Our newspaper published results of all secondary schools in the state, in terms of percentage of students sucessfully receiving university placements...

I must say that generally the private colleges were better off, but there are always exceptions. The top two were state schools, but those ones required entrance exams and only accepted the top 300 each year.

Some of the private colleges did quite poorly as well... so I dunno... Big Grin


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - zedlav - Aug 26, 2004

Hi!

I went to a co-ed Christian Primary School from Grades Prep to 3 and a co-ed Catholic Primary School from Grades 4 - 6. I then attended a girls Catholic College from Years 7 - 10, followed by a public Girls' State School.

...just a bit of background information as a prequel to the following advise / opinion ....

- Christian VS. Catholic Schools -
As a child who grew up in a Christian family and attended a Baptist church during my younger years, I found attending a Catholic school to be a little confusing at times because I didn't understand the traditions and practices which they used to do during the school masses and during religious education classes. So that made me feel a little awkward and even embarassed at times because I wasn't like the other kids who grew up in Catholic families who knew what to do and what to say during the church services or 'masses', as they called them.
When I was in Year 10, I was able to better appreciate the differences between the traditions and rituals of Christians and Catholics in terms of doctrine and worship. As a kid though, honestly, it was a little perplexing at times!!

The Bottom Line?
I was grateful that my parents sent me to that school, even though my parents and I weren't Catholics. Ultimately, the school did teach and instill biblical values that my folks wanted their children to learn about. I guess one other factor as to why my parents sent me to this school was because it was reputed to offer excellent education and that the school fees weren't as exorbitant as the other Christian school in our area. All things being taken into account, it was a pretty good decision by them I think.

- Private VS Public Schools -
Having been through both kinds of educational institutions, when it comes to having a successful student, I have come to the conclusion that: It all boils down to the student!!

Yes, private schools have better facilities. But a student still needs to have the initiative to tap into these resources and make the most use out of them. Better facilities do not necessarily make a better student.
Yes, private schools have more to offer. But a student, with creativity can seek out avenues to pursue extracurricular activities outside the school premises.
Yes, private schools have fancy and pleasant uniforms. But a student's academic performance is not determined by the clothes they wear, but by the determination and grit they possess to do succeed.
Yes, private schools have great teachers. But so do public schools! It should be noted that poor performance in a class due to a "bad" teacher is no excuse for a student. Once again, it comes down to the student to have enough drive to find ways to get around these hurdles.

I have had friends who finished in private schools (paying up to 10K a year!) only to find themselves floating through life after high school without any ambitions or goals in life! By the same token, I've had friends finish in a public school, finding themselves to be excellent doctors, optometrists, dentists and pharmacists!

The Bottom Line?

I don't want to take sides here to explicitly say whether private is better than public schooling. I do think parents should send their kids to the best school they can comfortably afford to send their kids to.

I also do think that parents do not need to spend thousands upon thousands to send their kids to a school, because the bottom line is, the student is very much the key driver of their success during their time in school.

And just a few more thoughts to tie it all up.... Smile (if i haven't put you all to sleep yet!) Wink

Obviously, an very important part of a students' success in their studies is the love, support, prayers and encouragement of their parents. And if the public culture is what you're concerned, I want to encourage you by saying that we should not underestimate the power of parental influence! Yes the public culture may be promoting all sorts of 'evil' things, but that's not to say we can't continually try to instill the values that we want in our children through constant communication. Up until the age of about 18, children are still looking to their parents to shape and affirm their values. You have a big role to play in how they respond to the 'public school culture' that is out there. Smile

SLEJHAMER .....what can I say? All the best in making that all-important decision! Smile


Public vs. Catholic/Christian School - slejhamer - Aug 26, 2004

Whew! Thanks for these additional answers. Obviously there is much to think about, and we have considered many more factors than what I've indicated above.

When we first moved into our new neighborhood, we were surprised to find that NOT ONE of the local children who are my daughter's age were going to go to the local public school, which is very conveniently located right down the street. We thought that was odd, considering that the school is part of a county curriculum ranked among the tops in the US. How can it be so bad? Are these just snobby private-school parents who don't want their kids associating with public school riff-raff? So we thought ...

We really didn't learn the "truth" until two weeks ago, when the school disclosed that it did not meet certain national standards. (The disclosure was mandatory, but frustrating that it came so close to the start of the new school year!) The reasons behind the failure are numerous (I'd say "legion" but that has other implications...), having as much to do with school-board politics as anything else.

Our concern is that the school has gotten itself into a hole and won't be able to get out. (One of the great rules of holes is that when you find yourself in one, you should stop digging!) As such, the teachers have been stretched beyond their means, and the childrens' educations are suffering.

After reading the above comments and articles, especially zedlav's experience, I am more convinced that we made the right decision. As shuttertalk points out, some public schools rank very well compared to private schools, but on average the performance of the private / Catholic schools is more consistently strong. And as zedlav properly points out, so much depends on the student and parents - and we will certainly give her all the support we can - but at the same time we don't want to feel that our efforts are being undermined by the lack of support at the school.

Thanks all for your most helpful insights!