The frugal ecologist asks:
Curious (read nosy) about your kiddo #1 switch to public school. Why did you decide to switch? What do you miss about private? What are you happy about with public (I remember you already mentioned aftercare / extracurriculars being much more extensive).
The main reason we switched DC1 when we did was because we were going to Paradise for a year and private school would be 40K instead of 8K PLUS the public schools are really good in Paradise. But when we came back, we kept DC1 in public school instead of coming back to private. The main reason for that is, like you say, our public schools have a lot more options starting in middle school. (The after-care was more extensive in Paradise, but isn’t so much here unless you’re into sports, which DC1 is not.)
So, we mainly remained switched when we came back so DC1 could take an instrument and advanced-level math and because DC1 is a lot older now and can (mostly) handle the larger classes etc. Zie has had a good year after some initial growing pains and has friends etc.
I do still miss the smaller class sizes and knowing everything that was going on at school. DC1 probably wouldn’t have fallen quite as far behind in the second to last grading period before we noticed at private school (I can’t remember if I mentioned hir series of forgetting to bring homework home or to turn completed homework in), but I don’t know. I also miss Spanish and French (and zie would be starting Latin if zie had remained). And I miss a bit the college level science they were doing because the science teachers they hired had only taught university courses before.
With public we’re happy about… orchestra and math. We’re unhappy with writing and science. We’re meh on social studies, PE, and study hall. Next year zie will have Spanish and fortunately the teacher that everybody said was terrible has moved on, so there will be a new person teaching that course. Zie will also have Robotics, but the class is supposed to be pretty bad since the person teaching it doesn’t understand programming. DH may step in there. We also really like that there is a bus (DC1’s stop is literally on our house corner, DC2’s will be across the street). In paradise we liked that DC1 could walk/bike to and from school.
DC2 is also starting in public next year instead of private because zie got into the Dual-Language program. The reason we’re doing dual-language for DC2 but didn’t for DC1 is that, unlike DC1, DC2 didn’t need to start K early, partly because zie is 6 months offset from DC1 (hir birthday is right before the cutoff) and partly because hir Montessori has higher-level materials than DC1’s did at this age so zie hasn’t run out. If zie hadn’t gotten into dual-language we would have gone straight to 1st with DC2 and skipped K entirely. (That’s not an option in the dual-language program. But zie will be able to test out of a grade in the future if need be.) I’m concerned about class size, lack of attention from the teachers, lack of differentiation, bullying, etc. etc. etc. But we take things one year at a time.
Moving forward, I will also be concerned about the required state legislature disinformation. DC1 doesn’t bring textbooks home, but I know that the state uses TX-standard textbooks, which means they are full of information that is biased in ways that do not fit with our family values. (Unlike the CA-standard textbooks we grew up with! Those are biased in ways that do fit with our family values.) So we’ll have to provide information on evolution and the Holocaust etc. DC1’s social studies teacher this year was a bit of a hippie and probably skirted the line closer to love and understanding of different cultures and religions than what our state legislature wants and hopefully did not get in trouble for it. Sadly, the class was mostly crafts and not a whole lot of actual academics. The science teacher was not that great, but not biased about it. So maybe this worry is overblown in our blue-dot college town. It would be easier if the school’s indoctrination matched our values rather than being in opposition to them, but there may be benefits there to critical thinking and not kow-towing to authority, even though authority is so highly stressed in this hierarchical former plantation state.
I will give them a lot of books and force critical thinking skills at home!