Are Public Schools Worth It?

We’re currently thinking about what type of schooling we should give our kids (given that Darcy is the age where she’s starting school).  This year, we’re homeschooling her for preschool.  She’s learning to read (kind of) and doing some other things.  We’re thinking that there’s a possibility that homeschooling might not be best in the long-term, so we’re evaluating all the options.  I’m evaluating on several different criteria: teacher quality, curriculum quality, networking/community, and affordability.

Public schools are hit-and-miss.  If you live in a good area, they can be great.  I, for instance, grew up in Saline, Michigan, where the public schools are extraordinary.

In terms of funding, public schools are unmatched.  Every politician in America is falling over themselves to over-fund schools, and public schools are controlled by monopolistic unions, which make sure that the teachers are well-paid.  This can mean that teacher quality is excellent, or (on the flip side) it can mean that a school district can be crippled by inept teachers that are assured their jobs by teacher tenure.

Funding also ensures that the teachers have the supplies and curriculum that they want.  This can be a good thing in terms of curriculum quality, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the best curriculum is provided.  Also, the curriculum is meant for the average child, and may not reflect your personal (religous) worldview.

In terms of community, public schools can be good.  They can offer Christians an opportunity to interact with non-Christians (an opportunity for evangelism), and they can offer children the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people.  As children grow older, it also affords them the opportunity to participate in school teams and clubs.

The affordability of public schools cannot be matched by either homeschooling or private schools (though with the fees some school districts are now imposing, it’s getting close).

Overall, if you live in a good school district, public schools are a great tool.  For my family (if we were to send our kids to public schools), we would have to supplement the education in several ways: first, we would have to provide our worldview curriculum (the responsibility for which I don’t think should be ceded to someone other than parents, anyways); second, we would have to un-do some of the teaching that’s done in public schools; and third, we would probably want to provide some supplemental education in other areas as well, because I won’t put up with my kids being average :)

  • Shelley Ansiel

    Yes, their are many good things about public schools, especially here in our affluent suburbia. Let me point out, if your child is above average, they benefit from an excellent teacher to child ratio and the teacher enjoys challenging your bright child. Also, your supplementing of your child’s education with a Biblical view can not be beat! Every day you get the chance to explain a biblical world view that provides a wonderful chance for their faith to grow through the years while they live at home with you. You are definitely right about the evangelism aspect of public school as well, for both your child and you to be a godly influence and bright shining light in the community is a wonderful opportunity.

  • Bob

    Shelley, thanks for the thoughts! Are your kids in the Warrenville public schools? How do you like them?