Last post I focused on the option of public schools and gave my thoughts on some of the pros, cons, and realities of public school. This was the only option I’ve had personal experience with. So as I start to look at the option of private school, understand that I may not have as much knowledge as others.
So with that in mind let’s move into some of my thoughts on private schools. We’ll start with the aspects I find to be positive first and move from there.
Education Shaped By Faith
One of the big positives for many Christians who are thinking of schooling options is that many private schools have a religious component to them. This means that in addition to other subjects there will typically be instruction on Christianity and the Bible. Now, I know that not all private schools are religious, but there are a number that are and for many Christians that is a significant positive.
In addition to having the Bible and Christianity actively taught, Christian schools also typically hire people who are Christians and believe the faith. This could also be a positive in that it could lead to a safer environment for younger Christians to strengthen and wrestle with their faith. This potential positive has a negative flip side though that I’ll hit a little later.
I mentioned this as a positive for public schools, but I think it is also a positive for private schools as well. There is a bit of a caveat to this though, because these schools are private they don’t have to require the same standards for their teachers that public schools do. Now this could lead to teachers that are not quite as good, but just like public school teachers are not always good, neither do I think that this reality means that private school teachers are superior or inferior.
Another thing to note is that private school teachers make significantly less. I’m sure this could have different effects depending on the teacher. You may wind up with super committed teachers who teach simply because they love it and maybe have a spouse who makes enough that they don’t have to worry about income very much. The other is that you wind up with a lot of turnover because if you do have a teacher that is needing this as a main income, it is possible that teaching at a private school may not be enough income. I’m sure this depends on the size of the school and how much tuition is and everything, but it is something to be aware of.
At the end of the day though these teachers are still showing up day in and day out to teach kids. This doesn’t guarantee anything one way or another, but I’d still say that having a group of dedicated teachers is still a positive in general. If you find out they are not so dedicated in actual interaction that’s a different story, but that’s true of any teacher.
A Smaller Social Element
Just like public schools, going to a private school will result in being able to socialize and mingle with other kids of a similar age group. Typically though it seems that private schools are much smaller than private schools. I know that Kristen had 13 kids in her graduating class. This could be a positive which leads to closer relationships and better education due to small class sizes.
However, it is also possible due to the small class size that if you don’t connect with the main “popular” group then you have a hard time making friends, because there may not be many people left after that. Just because it is a religious school doesn’t mean that the kids are necessarily nicer.
A Privilege to Attend
So let’s move to some of the things I view as negative aspects of private schools. Private schools all require tuition to go to. This can make going to a school like this an option only for those who have the spare money to afford a tuition or who can earn some kind of scholarship (if available) to attend. Those who don’t have extra money around will likely be unable to afford a private school, especially if said family has more than one child.
Throw in the fact that we already pay a school tax for the public school and it makes me wonder about paying again for a private school. I’m sure some people may find it worth it, but I’m just not sure. It seems like this would greatly limit who could attend a private school and would be quite expensive to keep the kids enrolled especially when both would be attending school. Although I’m sure that prices can vary greatly considering where you are and the quality of school.
Still Doesn’t Mean You’ll Agree
This is the negative side of the idea that many public schools teach matters of the faith. In case you haven’t noticed there are many different expressions of Christianity out there. When tying a school to Christianity it seems like the impulse is to go down moralistic and legalistic paths very quickly. I know with Kristen’s school that a number of things weren’t allowed like dancing, movies, and I think even playing cards.
These things may be very silly in long term, but I worry about that kind of trajectory. Is morality and ethics a part of Christianity? Yes it is, but the heart is more that we are unable to reach God through our morality and “goodness” and must rely on God and particularly on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So this focus on morality can chafe against grace and reliance on what God has done for us. Also, often times our morality can go beyond what the Bible lays out and travel into man-made realms awfully fast.
There also may be more significant beliefs that the school may have different than you. For example, the closest private school that we know of to us is a Roman Catholic school. While I don’t question the faith and legitimacy of Roman Catholic believers, there are aspects of the Roman Catholic faith that I don’t really agree with. So their teaching of faith would be different than what our church and Kristen and I would teach on some matters.
So really there is still no guarantee that what your kids will be taught is what you actually believe, unless you happen to get lucky and find a school that is of your denomination and they believe everything the same as you. There isn’t always a guarantee that going onward despite your differences would be viewed as a positive thing either. Again I’m sure this depends on the school or even the teachers within a school, but I also could totally see push back over differences happening.
My Kingdom for a School
Depending on where you are, you may not even have many good options for schools. Besides Roman Catholic schools the nearest private schools we’ve been able to dig up are a half hour away. That’s a bit of a travel compared to the fact that we could walk to the local public school in less time than it would take to drive to a “local” private school.
I’m sure that the options vary quite a bit depending on where you are, but at our current location there aren’t many viable options for the taking. This is also assuming that the ones that are local are ones you can afford, you wouldn’t mind going to, and that they wouldn’t mind having you there. It may not always be very easy to find a private school around you for these reasons or others.
So here are my thoughts on the private school option. As we’ve looked into it, it doesn’t seem like it is going to be an option that really works for us where we are. I still think it is a decent option, but I’m not sure it is any panacea for education. It, like any of the other options, has positives and negatives. Again I doubt I’m comprehensive here so I’d be glad to hear other thoughts.
Any other positives or negatives that you can think of for private schools? Anyone with positive or negative private school experiences? Anything else related to the topic? Feel free to comment.