That Great De...

That Great Debate

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by Lianne Castelino

The thought had never occurred to us.  Not for a second.  Why would it?  Neither my husband nor I attended private elementary schools.  We both, however, went to private high schools.  Still it was foreign territory when we made our foray into the debate — private versus public – when our first son was about to enter junior kindergarten.  That was 9 years ago.  He is in his second week of high school now, also private.

It’s not a decision that comes easily.  And I’m increasingly of the opinion that people will launch themselves into debt — shallow or deep — to send their kids to private school.

Why?  Why make such a seemingly irresponsible economic choice?

The truth is — there is little choice for many parents.  All three of our kids have been in private schools at one point or another.  Since moving to a different city in a new province a few years ago, the choices have widened, so that now only one attends an independent school.

There will be many parents this month agonizing over this very question.  The back-to-school period illicits all kinds of emotions, analysis, and new research — private vs. public may be foremost among them for many families.

When we made the leap, after careful consideration, it was with this thought process in mind.  Exposure.   That’s it — all nice and tidy in one single word.  We wanted out kids to be exposed to a variety of things (art, music, gym, library, etc.).  The very things that are being shred in many public schools — as trustees and councils and everyone and their dog debate costs and belt-tightening measures.

Why education is not everyone’s number one priority is beyond me.  A better educated, more knowledgeable society would likely lead to more healthy, engaged, vibrant, and empowered people.

Which brings us to getting what you pay for.  Thus, private school.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many issues of concern in private schools, but likely less than in the public system.

We wanted to foster our children’s love of learning from a young age.  Many people told us we were crazy.  “Save your money for when they go to high school,” we were told.
We listened, considered, analyzed, then went ahead with choosing a private school for kindergarten.

While there are plenty of exceptions (weak private schools, and strong public schools), the sheer explosion of private schools of all stripes would suggest they are becoming increasingly popular.

Teachers are better paid, the staff more accountable, facilities newer and better — or so all the stories go in private schools.  At the end of the day it’s a huge sacrifice for any family, economically.  And of course there are no guarantees.  Just the knowledge and belief that you are doing the absolute best for your kids.

Here’s hoping they realize it.