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Private or Public: The Debate Continues

My daughter will be starting kindergarten soon, but I don't know where yet! Help this blogger by sharing your advice or story about your child's schooling decision.

As I mentioned in a recent , I’ll be sending my first-born off to kindergarten in a few short months. But the big question remains – which school will she be attending?? I am still in a heated debate – mostly with myself – over this topic.

While private school initially seemed out of reach for us financially as it is for many, we were awarded some tuition assistance from the school. A lovely gesture, and while it isn’t the full amount, it is very appreciated and will go a long way. Once we found out the amount we’d be receiving and it became more of a “real” option for us, I started thinking about how our daughter would be getting to school and back home.

The school, on the border of Scarsdale and White Plains, is at least a 20-minute drive in no traffic. As we all know, morning eastbound traffic on 287 is not predictable nor is it quick, and while our nanny could drive her, it would mean a LOT of driving for her each day, as my younger son is also starting preschool in the fall. When I called our school district’s transportation department to find out what the bus schedule would be, they couldn’t give me a definite answer, but they said for our area this year, pick up is at 7:20 am, a full hour and ten minutes before school actually starts! An hour bus ride isn’t fun for anyone, let alone a 5-year old, to do it twice in one day! Not to mention, it’s hard enough to get her out of the house at 8:40 for preschool, let alone at 7:20 when I’m trying to get ready for work and our nanny hasn’t even arrived yet. Our carpool options are limited as well, which I thought would be an easy solution.

So why not just send her to the public school which is a short 10-minute ride down the road (with pick up at a more reasonable 8:30 am), you might be asking? Knowing my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses at this point, I believe the smaller class size and nurturing environment of a private school would suit her better and help her grow. Of course she’d get a good education anywhere, but wouldn’t you choose an environment for your child that you believe would be best for him/her? Or are logistics an important part in that decision?

Being that this is my first time having to make such a big decision and many of you might have already been in my shoes, I would love any advice or suggestions for this predicament.

Have you had to make a tough decision about your child’s schooling and what were the determining factors for you? Share your story (or advice) here!

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George Datino May 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I have three kids and each had a different path. Now first off, my experience has been with parochial, so that might be different than the private school you are talking about. With that said, my oldest did parochial from Kindergarten all the way through High School. My middle one started out parochial and switched over to public half way through middle school. My youngest, who is graduating this year, started in parochial but switched over to public in elementary school. What your child gets out of it really depends on your child and the school in question. Each has both pros and cons that can only be decided by the unique situation that is presented. We found that the public schools were better equipped to handle those areas where the student didn't fall into the norm. With a much larger school population to serve and that means a larger population in front of or behind the bell curve of students in a particular study area. The public schools are better equipped to offer help for those who need it and more advanced classes for those who can benefit from that. Again, that is not to say that the private school you are looking at that doesn't offer those classes. We found that the larger more diverse population of the public school was good preparation for the population the student would encounter out in the world. Also, the kids to be friends with local kids. Less planned play dates, more just out playing. Again, your situation may be different.
Anita May 03, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The size of the public school should be a consideration in determining whether or not you want public or private school. Clearly a large urban school is not going to be able to offer as much one-on-one assistance as a smaller, less crowded school. But then again, I would not want my 5 yr old sitting on a bus for an hour to go to a private school. The HS in my community is very small and is actually equivalent to going to a private school. The teachers and guidance counselors have known my children very well which becomes extremely important especially when preparing for the college years. My children's friends are all local and the bus rides are very short. I will say that the one con in a smaller based school, whether public or private, is that kids can tend to be very clicky (sp) and if your child has an issue with a peer, there is not a large selection of others that they can go off with. I know my daughter had a difficult time in our school yet my two sons did fine. Boys are more accepting in that department. I will also comment that my first child started out in this school district in 1989 and my last one will be graduating in June 2013 so I have been many years in this environment. School staff and the Board of Education have had many turnovers but the school mission statement has never swayed in all these years and I feel fortunate that my children received the public school education that they got.
Quaker May 03, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Don't forget the homeschool option!
newrochellesouth May 04, 2012 at 12:27 AM
One of the best things about private schools is they have the freedom to fire incomptetent teachers. There is no reasonable path to fire an incomptetent public school teacher. If you get an incompetent public school teacher, good luck getting your child transferred to a different class. The adminsitration won't do it and you are stuck.
Barbara Shane May 04, 2012 at 03:12 AM
My opinion after four children is to send your child to public school. You have no way of absolutely knowing which school or teacher would be "best" for her but you certainly know that the long bus ride and earlier time would not be "best" for either of you. Besides, she will most likely be happier going off with children from the neighborhood. Unless you know the public school has problems, give it a chance.

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