Public or Private? Making the Hard Choice

The age-old question of where to send your child to school, if you’re fortunate enough to have a choice, is one that has been debated for some time. Do you go the private school route to give your child smaller class sizes, more rigorous learning experiences, and a better shot at an upper tier college? Or do you opt for the public school option, where your child will experience more diversity among their classmates and have more opportunities for exploring academic and extracurricular activities? No doubt, private schools and public schools have their advantages and disadvantages, which help create a vastly different school experience for your child.

 

The School Experience

Obviously there are sharp contrasts in the type of experience your child will have at a public or private school. In private school, your child will likely be in classes with fewer students, with a teacher that is more likely to report enjoying his or her job, and at a school that is more likely to have modern resources, including supplies and textbooks that are relatively new, if not brand new. The curriculum is driven at the school level, with teachers having more say regarding what is taught and how they teach it. Private school students also engage in more physical activities and eat healthier school meals than do public school students.

 

Conversely, public school students are more likely to attend a school that is socially, racially, and economically diverse. Public school students take part in a curriculum that is uniform . . . read more

Parent-teacher conferences can be a bit unnerving for parents regardless of how many times they’ve attended. It can be difficult to cover all the questions you have in a short period of time, and you may even leave the conference feeling like you weren’t able to accomplish much. However, there are practical steps you can take before, during, and after parent-teacher conferences to ensure you have all the information you need to support your child’s learning.

Before the Conference

Parent-teacher conferences are often set up such that parents have precious little time with each teacher, in many cases 10-15 minutes at the absolute most. In order to get the most out of your appointment, come to the conference prepared. Begin by reviewing your child’s grades beforehand, including their report card, any progress reports, work your child has brought home, and any comments your child’s teacher has made on his or her homework. Gathering as much information as you can ahead of time will allow you to formulate questions to ask your child’s teacher and be ready to dive into the discussion once your appointment time arrives. Some possible questions to ask include:
 

  • Is my child performing at grade level?
  • What are my child’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What can my child do to improve academically?
  • What can I do to help my child improve academically?


It’s important to be prepared whether your child is doing well or poorly. On the one hand, if your child is struggling you’ll need to be familiar with why this . . . read more

The Common Core State Standards were developed after education officials became concerned over the lack of progress American students were making in the areas of math and language arts. After years of being outperformed by children in other countries, various stakeholders came together to devise a new set of standards that would raise the bar for student learning. The result was the Common Core, which took shape over the course of 2009 and was implemented in 2010. In the years since, 43 states, Washington, D.C., the education wing of the Department of Defense, and several U.S. territories have adopted the standards.
 



Developed by Experts

The Common Core standards represent a cooperative effort between dozens of officials including governors, teachers, curriculum design experts, and researchers. However two agencies, the National Governors Association for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the charge for the creation of the standards and continue to lead the ongoing efforts to implement the standards nationwide.

Throughout the design process, the NGA and CCSSO relied on input from content area experts, teachers, and even parents to devise standards that are both rigorous and relevant to a modern-day education. The authors of the standards also worked with higher education officials, workforce trainers, and employers to ensure the standards facilitated the development of knowledge and skills required for success in college, at the workplace, and in life.
 

Purpose of . . . read more

It has been an ongoing trend for nearly two decades – while the total number of students in American public schools has risen, the percentage of those students who are white has steadily fallen. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1997, over 63 percent of the 46.1 million U.S. public school students were white. Today, white students comprise just 49.7 percent of the 50 million students enrolled.

These changes in the racial make-up of the nation’s public schools are reflective of where the overall population is headed. According to recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2060, the white population in this country is projected to fall by more than 20 million people, while the Hispanic population is set to double. Black and Asian populations are expected to increase as well, although at rates far slower than Hispanics. By 2043, the nation as a whole is projected to become majority-minority.


Public School Diversity

While the white student population has declined by 15 percent since 1997, according to Pew, both Hispanic and Asian populations have rapidly increased. In that same time frame, the number of Hispanic students has grown by 50 percent to 12.9 million students. The number of Asian students has also seen significant growth, jumping 46 percent to 2.9 million students. The African-American student population, which this fall will number 7.7 million, has remained relatively steady over the last twenty years.

Much has been made recently of the number of . . . read more

Despite the nation’s dismal ranking for early childhood education, there are signs that it is increasing in importance for American families. Just a decade ago, only 65 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool; today that number is 78 percent. It is a subject that has become politicized as well, with President Obama championing the cause a number of times during his presidency, most notably in his 2013 State of the Union Address. After that speech, the White House offered details of the president’s plan to greatly expand the availability and quality of pre-k programs, which include:

 

  • Expanding Early Head Start, which provides educational and health services to low-income and vulnerable children birth to three years of age;
  • Developing a cooperative effort between state and federal agencies to guarantee pre-k enrollment for children at or below 200 percent of the poverty line;
  • Build a corps of pre-k teachers that have the same level of credentials as those that teach K-12 students;
  • Extending the Nurse Family Partnership Program, which provides home visits from nurses to low-income families. Nurses help promote health and positive parenting strategies from the child’s birth through their second birthday.

 

Many state legislatures have enacted sweeping pre-k programs with great success – Georgia and Oklahoma among them. But the oddity of many state-based pre-k programs is that their success is far higher in states that generally have poorer performing public schools. Additionally, support for pre-k education seems to be much more robust in Republican-leaning states, especially those in the Deep . . . read more

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