Tuesday, January 9, 2007


My friends and I talked at length today about public versus
private schools. We live in an area in
which the vast majority of people with the means to do so, send their children
to private schools. The public school
system in East Tennessee is less than stellar and there are several very
successful private schools to choose from. There were six of us at the table, three of whom had children of
elementary school age. Each of them
sent their children to a different private school in the area, ranging in price
from $4000 per year to $7000 per year. Of the three remaining Moms, two of us (including myself) planned on
sending their kids to public school and one of us was undecided. It made for an interesting

Ever since I had my son, I knew that he would attend
public school. Sending him to private
school just wasn’t a possibility for three reasons. First of all, when I get right down to it, I cannot afford
private school. In order to afford an
additional $300-$500 per month, I would have to make major sacrifices and go
back to work at least part time. Secondly, I do not feel strongly about my children receiving their
education in a religious environment. I
know many people do and, in that case, private or home schooling seem to be the only
viable option. Finally, I went to
public school and I turned out fine. I
was consistently on the honor roll, performed well on all standardized tests,
and got into the college of my choice. I doubt that the outcome of my life would be significantly different if
my parents had opted to send me to a private school.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Perhaps if I had been exposed to the advantages afforded by private schools, I would be accepting my Nobel Prize right now but I seriously doubt it.  If a child is going to excel in school then they will do so
regardless of whether the education is paid for with public tax dollars or with
(in our case) a second mortgage. I just
don’t think it matters all that much. Now, that being said, I think it is extremely difficult for even good
students to excel in schools that are in very low-income areas. If I lived in an area where the schools were
plagued by extremely low test scores, violence, high levels of teacher
turnover, and major budgetary problems, I would likely find a way to move out
of that area, home school, or make the necessary sacrifices to place my child
in a private school. I am not attempting to
make a blanket statement about the state of the American education system. Low-income schools were not a factor for us
today because, by and large, the people who took part in the discussion were
zoned for adequate public schools in fairly affluent areas.

Like most people, I tend to defend my positions with
conviction when I don’t really have a choice whereas another person might. That was the case today. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow or my
husband were to receive a significant raise in the next year, I might sing a
different tune. Right now, though, I
fully plan on sending my child to public school. It’s either that or find a way to work an additional $400 into
the monthly budget. I cannot even bring
myself to commit to a $40/month gym membership, I hardly think I am ready for a
large tuition payment.


  1. I was "lucky" enough to go to private school--A Catholic one at that! I was there my freshman year, sophomore year and half of my senior year. For the rest of the time, I was at a public school. (I graduated at semester, and I went back to be with my friends the second semester) I really hated high school to begin with. The best time of your life my @$$. So I don't know if I'm the best for this, but whatever. And the truth is, I was so sheltered in Holy Family. When I got a taste of the real world, I went nuts. Every one said how you get better values and all that in private schools. Most of were taught that no matter what you do, you are going to hell. Then we discovered that drinking, smoking, what have you is fun, so screw that noise. I think that if I started in a public school, I would have enjoyed it more, and maybe did better in school. That could just be me, but that is how I feel.

  2. I had 1st and 2nd grade in Catholic school. The rest was public and my parents regret not putting me back in private for high school. I got in with the "wrong group". I was such a wretched beast.