The difficulty of diversity

R and I have been talking about St. Adelaide the Righteous’ schooling for this coming year. She’ll be entering Kindergarten, so we’re faced with that age-old and probably over-debated question of public vs. private. I’m not in the mood to discourse eloquently on the topic of public school education, being New Years’ moody and horrifically glued to the news from Gaza. And so we poll.

1. Her private, church-based preschool has a K class, after which we’d still be faced with the same decision. Pros: she knows everyone, we’ve had a positive experience there, we are well known by the administration. Cons: cost (not too bad at around $200 a month), at the end of 2009 we’d still have a decision to make, the student population is fairly white-bread homogeneous.

2. Public. Although the system for our county is one of the best in the state, the particular school to which she’d be assigned is less so. Pros: diversity, continuity in future years, closeness to our house, bus service. Cons: the school has a poverty level of 76% and almost half of the students don’t speak English.

3. Private A: Faith-based school which I attended through HS. Pros: private education, small classes, high parent involvement. Cons: prohibitive pricing (around $1000/month for K, rises from there), the homogeneity that characterizes such institutions, fairly straight-laced philosophy.

4. Private B: Catholic private school fairly close to home. R is Catholic, so this option appeals to him, though he’s wanting the best option for St. A, regardless of where it may be. Pros: small, private, high parent involvement. Cons: lack of diversity, cost- though not as much as Private A, it’s more than Option 1. Potential of hearing nun jokes for the rest of her life (that might be a pro…).

Any thoughts? What are your considerations for your child’s education?

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12 Responses to The difficulty of diversity

  1. It sounds like you aren’t unhappy with where she currently is, and that makes me wonder if another year there might give you more time to explore the options until one emerged as The One?

  2. JackOfHeart says:

    Israel is basically a “failing transplant” thats is being naturally rejected by the entire body. Israel is a very bad disease that has proven to be fatal to children. The treatment for Israel is one of three;
    1) Surgical removal (recommend Dr. Nasrallah)
    2) Chemical therapy (recommend Dr. Assad)
    and if all fails;
    3) Radiation therapy (By Dr. Ahmadinijad)

  3. faemom says:

    Tough decision. I will say this though; in my experience, the kids who had a good foundation in elementry years did better later on.

  4. amayala says:

    The whole public vs private discussion is a difficult one. I was educated both in private and a public schools, and definitely I would say that the quality of the private school matters more than anything else. Not all religious schools are created equal. Catholic schools usually have an excellent reputation for being better organized and higher quality than many of the Protestant schools in the U.S. (And this is coming from a Christian teacher in a Protestant international school!)

    In terms of diversity, I understand your concerns about the school’s homogeneity; However, considering some of the statistics of your public school, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that enough of a reason to keep her in an institution where the students from her ethnic background are predominantly below the poverty line. My child will be biracial, and certainly this is something that I have thought about as well. It’s important that you see your responsibility as parents toward empowering your child at home to excel and break stereotypes as being very important if you choose to send her to the “white bread” school. It won’t necessarily be a bad experience for her to appreciate her own differences and take ownership of her identity within that homogenous setting. At least that’s what I would do. 🙂

  5. antropologa says:

    I think I know where you are talking about with #4, maybe, and my friend’s kids did well there. But I know you have liked #1. I love continuity so I’d probably do that.

    I don’t know what to do about Little Girl’s schooling. It’s undecided.

  6. evenshine says:

    True, and that’s an option. I’d still have the decision looming over me, though.

  7. evenshine says:

    Faemom- of course, but the question remains- is the good foundation provided by an elite private school or a diverse public one?

  8. faemom says:

    This is such a good debate! What’s more important for a child to grasp: the value of diversity or a strong academic begining. Like I said it’s a tough choice. I’ll admit I’m a little bias toward Catholic school, but mine was very Hispanic. In college it really stood out on who had the basics of grammar and who didn’t. I can’t tell you how many students I helped write papers where I had to teach them the function of a sentence. On the other hand, I met kids with such a lack of understanding of others that I was completely shocked. But I plan to throw for academic and teach diversity at home. Of course, that might not work for you and your family, so I’m really pulling for you and your choice.
    All the luck!

  9. Emily says:

    i have these crazy fantasies wherein my kid gets into seeds at ucla. i know, i know, but a girl can dream.

  10. Mary-LUE says:

    You have to go to each of the school’s and visit them. There is something that touring the school will bring you that nothing else will.

    It’s that gut thing combined with all the facts and values.

    The poverty level at the one school is problematic–just in the fact that in all likelihood, those children will not do as well. The teacher’s attention may be spent on trying to get those kids up to speed because of the difficulties of second language development and lack of background knowledge. However, if the school is decently funded, has good English language development in place, etc., it might be just fine. Again, a visit is going to give you a very strong sense of the place. Does your district allow for transfers to other schools within the district? That’s what we do with our daughter because we wanted her in an alternative program. Are there alternative programs available in your district? My daughter is in a multiage program that has a very different focus and emphasis. That might be another thing to consider.

    I was worried about the switch for my son from private school to public school in junior high. A tour with the principal really helped us make our decision.

    Oh, I would also recommend a balance between long term hopes for her education and current needs.

    Okay… this is getting long and rambly.

  11. Gori Girl says:

    I voted for public, but it’s not (just) because of the diversity issue. Rather, it’s an economic one. Think of what $12,000 or $10,000 a year could give your child outside of traditional schooling – international travel, enriching summer camps, extracurricular activities, etc. It’s a lot of money, and I think that using some of it to supplement what might not be the greatest local public school could lead to a very well-educated child.

  12. I’d go with option 1 for this K and then send her to one of the private schools. I think that low class size is incredibly important. Visiting the schools also seems smart.

    I work with the public school across the street from my library-high poverty levels there too. The thing that strikes me the most is how most of the teachers have to be extremely strict. I think 5 yr old me would have been in tears if I’d been in a school like that–harsh tones, very loud voices, lots of use of guilt, etc. The kindergarten teacher there explained it was because the kids don’t listen otherwise because they think of kindness/gentleness as weakness. If your child could handle that, then send her to the public school. If your child is more sensitive, I’d say don’t.

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