My daughter will be starting kindergarten next year and I'm concerned about sending her to our district school as they are having financial problems and will be eliminating several programs. We've tried to transfer to a different district, but our chances are slim. We do have the option of private school, but aren't sure we could afford it. Do you recommend private schools over public? Do you feel she will "blossom" in a public school?
You are addressing this question to a woman who has spent much of her adult professional life advocating for public education. As my beloved granddaughters attend a parochial school, and as I love their mother (who attended this school as a child) so much, I have had to keep an open mind on the issue. And I have visited and observed in many private schools that do an excellent job.
But my heart is with the public schools. If you had to single out one factor that had contributed the most to America’s climb to world prominence, it would have to be our public education system.
Forgive the preaching, but I felt you had a right to know how strongly I feel about public schools in order to help you interpret my answer. And that answer is that I would definitely enroll her in the public school. Get involved and learn about areas of strength and weakness in that school. Then, if you identify areas in which your daughter might not get as much from it as you would like, you can arrange for supplementary lessons. For example, if you want dance or gymnastics or music for her and these things are not available in the public school class, enroll her in one of these enrichment activities on your own for just a fraction of what the private school would cost. Now, if I may be permitted a brief personal testimony, I would offer the following: if the public schools in a small town in Texas (a state not famous for its support of education) had not done a pretty good job, I would not have had a productive research and teaching career, written hundreds of articles for other professionals and for parents, and be invited by Fisher-Price to write for its web page! Give it a try. I can already see her “blossoming.”
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