Any time someone asks me where our soon-to-be kindergartner will be going to school next year, I cringe and try to change the subject. As a product of public schools, a public school teacher, and someone who believes vehemently in social justice and closing the achievement gap, I struggle to explain to people why we are strongly considering private school for our children. No, we aren’t Catholic, but we are considering Catholic schooling. And no, we aren’t rich, but we are considering paying tuition for our children to attend private schooling. But why? Why are we considering private school when we have always been public school advocates?
- Our schedule.
When researching the public school our children would attend based on where we live, we learned that, like most elementary schools in the metro, school doesn’t begin until 9:15 a.m. This is problematic for two working parents who must be to work by 7 a.m. This means that our family would have to secure before school care, which the school does offer, at $45/week (cheap in comparison to other local school districts that charge up to $361/month for just before school care), or we could hire a nanny to come into our home and care for our children and help them get on the bus. In comparison, the private school we are considering allows drop off at 7:30 a.m. with a school start time of 8:00.a.m. and is minutes away from my spouse’s workplace. This proximity would allow for our children to ride to work with her and then be dropped off shortly thereafter. Thus, before school care would not be required. This saves us $180-$361/month in before school care; however, we would have to pay tuition of approximately $500/month (only $139 less that just before school in some districts—and a $320 dollar difference if our children were to attend our neighborhood school)
As scary as the word “tuition” sounds, we have found that it will likely be more manageable than we ever thought. After having paid daycare and preschool for so long (at around $1400/month for two kids), we would actually be saving money in comparison to years previous. Thus, we would essentially be rolling over our daycare/preschool bill into tuition without seeing a reduction in our overall monthly budget. In fact, we would be able to pay tuition for two children and still have $400 to spend on supplies and/or school uniforms per month.
To accommodate disadvantaged children, recent trends in education are preventing many educators from assigning homework, and as a public school teacher myself, I get it. Some kids don’t have good home lives. Some kids don’t have parents. Some kids don’t have homes. But this does not describe all children, and we want our children to have homework. We want them to practice what they are learning at school at home. We believe there is value in homework, and we will emphasize the importance of homework and school in general repetitively in our home. And the private school we are considering for our children, simply stated, does believe in homework to reinforce classroom learning.
Many, many people are opposed to school uniforms. Not us. Though school uniforms most certainly do restrict individuality, we are fine with this. We welcome a reprieve from the morning challenges of what to wear or what name brand to buy for our children to be a part of the popular group. Less focus on what to wear and more focus on learning would be a huge plus.
As awful as it sounds, I admit it: we are strongly considering private school for our children, and for this, I feel a ginormous amount of guilt.
Public schooling has always been a part of who we are and it always will be; however, it may not be in the cards for our children any time soon.