I am a teacher. There is not an avenue of teaching I have not experienced. I have taught in all types of schools on-line and brick and mortar. I have been asked what kind of school do I think offers the best education? My answer is: the school where your child learns best. There is no right answer that works for every child.
However, I like public schools over private schools, parochial schools and on-line schools. They offer more choices. Indeed, many are located in the worst areas like Miami, Atlanta or Detroit; nonetheless, the advantages can out weight the disadvantages.
Public schools offer many opportunities. There are several levels of classes at all levels for students to take. They are taught by different teachers; whereas, private schools may have only one chemistry class or Algebra class available for all students. Diverse classes and teachers mean that students are exposed to different learning styles making it easier for them to learn. How a student learns is equally as important as what a student learns. When only one class is available, students experience a variety of problems. One major problem could be the teacher. What If the teacher does not teach in a manner best suited for a particular student? The student fails to learn. Poor grades could result in failure. What if the student needs a lower level class or higher level? Most private schools do not offer several classes of the same course at different levels taught by different teachers; therefore, more students fail. When there are less choices in classes and teachers, students are forced into a cookie cutter classroom where the teacher is obliged to teach to the average student the same way.
Public schools are just that-public. They get a bad rap from critics. Public schools are rich in all types of diversity. They have rich students mixed in with poor students, special needs students and gifted students often in the same classes or clubs. There are students of all races and backgrounds blended together. One never knows what he or she will encounter in a public school. And that is the beauty of a public school. When a student attends a public school, especially in a big city, they learn to cope with every type of person. Unfortunately,being public fosters certain dilemmas: extremes of everything, increased violence, bigger class sizes, to name a few. However, such situations teaches students to be tolerant of the differences of people. And of course private schools are not immuned against the same problems public schools have. They are just less able to function with such difficulties.
Private schools can afford to discriminate. While they may not be short on funding, they do not enjoy the menagerie of choices available in public schools. Most importantly, the student body is selective. This often means there is only one type of student. If a school can easily count their minorities, they do not have enough. The student body is a school’s greatest asset. If the student body is not varied, then the students can be very narrow-minded in accepting others different from themselves. Such difficulties to do allow adapting to change a functionality.
Additionally, there are limited class choices. Suppose you have a bright child that is gifted in Math and Science, but deficient in English and Social Studies. That student may be welcomed in the private school in Math and Science, but because of their lack of exposure and difficulties in English and Social Studies, they requires more help which the school cannot provide. Thus, the student is placed in the only English class and Social Studies class available in total disregard of the student’s need. Naturally, the student quickly falls behind. How unfortunate because most private schools do not have the staff to accommodate such a student. If the student’s parents do not notice their child’s problem in a timely fashion, that student can suffer irreversible harm academically and emotionally that could last as a lifetime learning delimma.
Some would believe that on-line education can solve many of the problems found in private and public schools. On-line education is a fabulous thing. Certainly an answer to many problems for parents, teachers and students. Yet, I do support on-line education in secondary and elementary education for most students without special circumstances. Having worked and taught in an on-line school, I truly know what happens in such schools. Corruption and cheating is widespread among the students and administration. The teachers, I found to be wonderful and hard working for the most part, but have little support from the administration-especially with low performing students.
Most on-line schools are public and compete with the public schools for funding to remain open. Subsequently, online schools are willing to do anything to get students and keep them. This includes helping students with testing in a manner that is not be allowed in public schools. Such help is NOT provided in the student’s IEP or their accommodations. This puts the teacher in a vulnerable position; one that can cause them to lose their teaching credentials. Why ask a teacher to do such a thing?
And who is checking up on on-line schools? Are they treating their students fairly. The students initially like the idea of attending an on-line school. They think it will be less work somehow. They quickly experience learning on the computer is a lot of work with little help when need. The worse part of on-line education in secondary and elementary school is that students get terribly lonely. Most online students are alone, in their own homes with no supervision-their parents are at work. They miss other students. Soon they begin skipping classes and stop doing the required school work. There is no one available, except the teacher, to check on the student and question their progress. There is so much failure in on-line education because students do not want to do the work. Administrators are busy with other things like keeping the school running and how to continue paying salaries. They do not care about the students like they should and are not willing to spend the money to hire teachers to travel to the homes of failing or poor achieving students. Thus, students fail and drop out in great numbers. For many of these students the on-line school was their last resort for gaining a high school diploma. Too many never return to the classroom anywhere because they are too far behind and do not want to face the embarrassment of their peers.
It is not my intention to advocate the elimination of private schools and on-line schools for public education. Every kind of school has its advantages. Nonetheless, parents must be educated to the truth each choice offers their child before that child fails. As a mother of three and a teacher, I know the effects errors in parental educational choice manufactures. Such choices cost parents hundreds of dollars to correct their child’s academic problems So many parent cannot afford to fix such problems. It is much more efficient to prevent the problems in the first place.
Lastly, the student is no longer the major concern of education today. Administrators and legislatures are more involved in the procedures and implications of Common Core’s functionalities and insisting that all teachers teach the same-than what is best for the students. All students should not be taught the same because all students do not learn the same! Therefore, what school a student attends is a major decision parents still have the jurisdiction to decide. Such decision is not dictated to them by the State. Parents! Make the wise choice for your child’s future. Just because the school is private, does not mean it is the best place for your child; nor, is attending a public school the worse place for your child. If you choose an online school, be available to guide your child through their daily tasks to make sure they do what is required of them. Do the research before placing your child anywhere. It is a decision with a lifetime of consequences.