In my continuing series comparing schooling options for my kids, I’ve been thinking about private schools lately. In our area, there are several good Christian school options, including the Greenhouse and Clapham School – if you know of any others in the area, please let me know.I’m evaluating the different schools in terms of several different criteria: teacher quality, curriculum quality, networking/community, and affordability.
In terms of teacher quality, private schools can be more hit-and-miss than public schools, because there are two different things at work when it comes to hiring teachers for private schools. Typically, because of a lack of funding, private Christian schools are at an economic disadvantage to public schools when competing for the best teachers. They can’t hire more experienced teachers, or the top teachers, because a public school can pay them more (and give them a pension). This forces private Christian schools to hire younger, more inexperienced teachers. However, private schools sometimes have something going for them—they have teachers that really believe in the school that they’re working for. They have an added level of connection to their teachers/employees—a theological/spiritual connection. This is something that public schools don’t have. This might cause the private Christian school to have a more committed (and possibly more stable) teacher base.
Curriculum quality can also suffer in private schools because of a lack of funding. In an era where public schools revamp their curriculum every year, private schools can be at a disadvantage if they don’t have the funding to do the same. At the same time, though, I’m a firm believer that increased funding for schools doesn’t necessarily make them better at teaching children. The curriculum at private schools will also line up better with our worldview. Something that we would have to guard against if we were to send our children to a private Christian school is complacency—the attitude that, since we’re sending our kids to a Christian school, we can delegate the teaching of Biblical principles to the school. We cannot do this; we are still responsible for teaching our child, and for pursuing their heart for Christ.
The community at a private school is usually pretty good, but can be insular. Because the environment is “Christian,” it could keep us from personally living out the Great Commission to our unsaved friends and neighbors. I also have a concern with the Christian private school community (that I’ve heard from friends who went to private schools, and that some of my friends experienced in the private Christian school that I attended overseas) that the children who attend the school can graduate with a jaded view of Christianity. After attending the school, and seeing their teachers and other students who live a double Christian life, they come to view Christians as hypocritical—saying one thing at one time, and doing another thing at another time. When a child sees a “Christian” student (perhaps one that they admire) stand up in front of the school and give their testimony, and then see them later behind the field house doing something that is, by any standard, sinful, they might have the tendency to discount anyone else who professes to be a Christian inviting them to become a follower of Christ.
Affordability is a big issue for me when it comes to private schools. In my eyes, at this point, private schools are not cost effective. You pay many thousands of dollars per year to send your child to a school that very well may have subpar teachers, subpar curriculum, and a subpar community.
Is there anyone that is currently sending their kids to a private school that could add some perspective to mine? Is there anyone that decided not to send their kids to a private school? If so, why not?