Is a Public School Education Worth It?

When my daughter, Nee, walked across the stage to receive the Distinguished Honor Roll Award for Academic Achievement (she earned straight A’s all year), my wife, KayEm, broke down crying. The bawling continued when Nee was presented with an art award.

KayEm’s waterworks were much more than a display of parental pride. They were an expression of relief and contentment.

After several unpleasant experiences at Nee’s previous school, we decided to place her in our neighborhood elementary school. During her three years in private school, Nee had to deal with mean girls, a racially insensitive music teacher, and cliquish behavior from students, teachers and parents.

Because it was a religious school, the administration chose to de-emphasize science education in favor of Creationism. As a science-buff, I had a big problem with this approach. It is my belief that science and religion can co-exist. Besides, the school was doing a disservice to any student who wanted to pursue careers in engineering, astrophysics, or any other science based industry.

The breaking point came when Nee told us, with tears in her eyes, that the teachers and students at the school made her feel invisible.

I was tired of my daughter’s heart being broken on a daily basis and I knew I had to get her out of this environment. KayEm and I researched a few more private schools before settling on our local public school.

People often disparage the public school system. While some of the criticism is legitimate, much of it is unwarranted. KayEm and I were both products of the public school system and we received an excellent education. In addition, KayEm taught public school, her mother was a school counselor and her father was a Superintendent of several school districts. My step-father is also a teacher. Our families are deeply committed to making public school work.

We decided not to send Nee to public school initially because we were concerned that she would have been lost in a sea of students because of her introvert personality (her elementary school has 1200 students). Our plan was to move her to public school in middle school. However, we couldn’t afford to wait that long.

Nee's award-winning self-potrait is on display at the School District's headquarters

Since Nee has been in public school, she has blossomed into a confident, self-assured young lady. She entered the Spelling-Bee, ran for Student Council, and gave the morning announcements to the student body – things she would have never attempted at her previous school.

I give most of the credit from Nee’s coming out her shell to her math teacher, Mrs. Scott. She was the first teacher to really make a connection with Nee. Because of Mrs. Scott’s nurturing, compassion, and care Nee was able to excel academically and personally.

But Mrs. Scott is only one cog in a well-oiled machine. KayEm and I have been impressed by the entire staff. They work hard to challenge the students, make learning fun, and keep the parents involved and informed.

I’m also impressed by the school’s commitment to giving the students a well-rounded education. Many schools have cut art, music and P.E. from their curriculum due to budget constraints and the emphasis on standardized testing. Nee’s school continues to support these subjects.

As you can tell, KayEm and I are extremely satisfied with Nee’s new school. My only regret is that we didn’t decide to change schools much sooner.

Stay Strong,

Question: What are your thoughts on public school, private school, and home-schooling?

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad