I hope all went well with everyone during Christmas. I know it was an incredible year for my family and myself. As with any family functions, there are always lots of topics being discussed around the plethora of food and drink that engulfs our homes.
A topic that arose from my family this past Christmas was parochial education. I have two nieces that attend catholic school, my wife still has a niece in catholic school, my mother-in-law was a principal at a parochial school for numerous years until her retirement, my sister-in-law teaches at a parochial school now, and to be very honest my wife and I are still discussing whether to have our children attend catholic school. Now, I am a teacher at a public school and am an advocate for public schools. Throughout the discussion, there were some very valid points brought up. My sister and brother-in-law don’t regret sending my nieces to parochial school. Standardized test scores are well above the public schools where my nieces live. Technology is used, though they only have computers once a week, which still proves to me the teacher is still the most important tool in the classroom. Where my sister-in-law teaches they have smart boards and a Mac lab for students.
Going back to the standardized test scores mentioned earlier, the teachers must be doing something right. In parochial schools religion is taught along side the normal state mandated curriculum. So, to me it seems the teachers do have a bit more on their plate curriculum wise compared to public school teachers. Okay, I can hear the grumbles now from public school teachers. I understand we have a lot to do too. I am not saying the teachers at parochial schools are better. I strongly believe there are exceptional teachers in schools everywhere. I think a big factor is the class size a parochial school teacher has compared to a regular public school. When you are working with 10-15 students compared to 20-30, that has a huge impact on more one on one time available for each student.
Besides curriculum, other issues were discussed. For example, the cost of attending parochial school and the hours a parent is asked to volunteer. To me, I feel parents are asked to volunteer no matter what school your child attends. In addition to cost, where is my child going to be safer? Are children bullied less at a parochial school? Do I need to worry about the problems the catholic church has had in the past with children? Some would say I am comparing apples to apples. I will leave that up for my readers to decide.
Realistically, in the few catholic schools I am comparing to public school, I am not sure what is better. I feel I am in a unique situation because I am not only a parent, but a public school teacher who needs to make a decision on where to send my child. At this point, I just want my children to have the best education possible. Next fall, my child is scheduled to attend a school where the teacher to student ratio is higher that 1:25. I am not sure that is the best place for my child.
These are just a few things to ponder, not a blog post to cause an uproar. Making the choice on where to send your child for a great education can be difficult and should never be decided quickly. The choice shouldn’t be made based on wanting your child to be a status symbol. An individual is not “better” than his classmate because he attended a parochial school. I know I will continue to research the topic and see what is best for my children.