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#1 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been researching the private schools in the area. I feel like we failed miserably last year. (only applied to 1, then found out that they could not have my daughter there because they do not allow kids to go to classes outside their grade so she could not take advanced math or science and had already completed what they offered for her grade, they recommended we go to a school that they were associated with that was too far away, so we went to the charter school, which, I also posted about).

There is a Christian school that seems to have many of the course offerings that look like they would be interesting to my children. They also have good SAT scores and AP passing rates and a good selection of AP courses offered. But I get worried about going to a Christian school, just because, from my experience as a homeschooler, the Christians I met there seem to not want to interact with anyone not in their own groups or churches. I live in the Dallas, Texas area and people seem to be quite superficial here and I find that within the church communities, I just have not managed to find our place. Should we consider a Christian school anyway? My concern is that we will start there but then quickly find our children never fitting in due to not belonging to the churches that the others belong to and such. Plus, we have some very conservative beliefs (no dating, dressing where your rear end and boobs don't show, some TV shows not allowed, prolife, etc) as well as some beliefs that many would call liberal (I have Gay friends who have children, I support Gay marriage, I am ok with fertility treatments, etc). Please don't turn this in to a debate on our beliefs, I am just stating them so I can hopefully get some good feedback on this.

As far as our concern regarding the Catholic school is that we are very definitely protestant and are raising our children as such. I have heard that while the Catholic school claims they want to promote religious diversity in their school (they even talk about it on their website) that in reality, once your children are there and you cannot hear what they say, they openly criticize non-Catholics and try to convert your children. Not that I am worried about them converting at this age, but that could be quite difficult for them to have to live with and be around all the time for the rest of their high school years.

Please offer me constructive opinions or feedback on these two different school situations. I am still looking around. But I feel like I have looked before and all I recall for workable options are these.

The only secular schools or close to secular schools cost over $20K a year around here and we simply cannot afford that. My husband has suggested we just take out a loan to pay for it, but I just think with college looming, going massively in debt for high school is not a good idea at all.

Thanks!!
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#2 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 03:46 AM
 
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What's wrong with the public schools in your area? Are they really that bad? Have you visited them? Talked to people who have children there? Academically, the public schools in our area have the AP classes and IB programs (we're in Oregon and the schools are decent, but not stellar). True, the overall schools are mixed, but kids tend to operate within a smaller sphere and if they're in AP/IB classes those are the kids they hang out with. (FWIW, our gifted kids are thriving in a school with 85% free and reduced lunch and 70% ESL. Don't let the numbers scare you. You have to SEE the school.)

Have you visited the Catholic schools? Talked to Protestants who have their children there? I went to a Catholic school. We had kids who weren't Catholic, and while they had to do some religious studies, they didn't have to do the specifically Catholic stuff, and the school certainly didn't ever talk down about other denominations/beliefs. I have friends who have children at Catholic high schools now (one who's not religious at all.) Religiously and politically, their school is pretty liberal, and something like 1/3 of the school is not Catholic. My impression is that's fairly common among Catholic schools these days. You need to find out how the schools in your area teach religion to non-Catholics, what the curriculum is like and what sort of expectations there are.

Have you visited the Christian schools? Talked to people who don't belong to the affiliated church(es) who send their children there? I know the least amount about these kids of schools, but I would carefully look at their curricula. What do they teach for science (is it creationism for example)? What do they teach for religion? Do they teach a literal interpretation of the Bible? What sort of values do they espouse? Are you comfortable with those?

The bottom line is that if you send your children to a religiously affiliated school, part of the real cost of the school is supported by the religious institutions that sponsor it. I think it's unrealistic to expect a religious group to not teach their religion at their schools. So, if you're going to send your children to a religious school, you need to be comfortable with what they teach.

Line up some tours. Talk to the schools. Feel them out. Not all Christian/Catholic schools will be able to accommodate grade acceleration. Not all of them will feel comfortable for you.

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#3 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 11:30 AM
 
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I went to a Christian High school that was one of the larger ones in the city I lived in. About half the kids went to the same church, but half (including me) went to a bunch of different churches. Although some of the kids had known each other since K, I started there in 11th grade (major problems at my public school) and it worked out better than I would have expected. I made friends, partly because the school didn't really have clicks.

At the time, all the families where protestants and I think the school would have been very uncomfortable to kids who weren't. I have a friend who is 7th day Adventist who was sent to a Christian school, and find it different enough from what she was taught at home that she was very stressed out and unhappy. How much stuff like that bothers a child might depend partly on the child's personality. With the multiple difficult school situations your kids have had, may be it would be a small price to pay for them to just keep their views on gay marriage (or whatever) to themselves while at school.

Over all, the course work and teachers were EXCELLANT at the school, and there were almost no behavoir problems. Because it was small, it was easy to join in things, be in the play, be on a sports team, etc.

I would strongly encourage you guys to arrange 3 day visits to whatever school(s) you are considering. I'd also visit the sponsering church several times and get a feel for what they are like. Even if you don't go to church there, it will be the same basic attitudes at the school.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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I would carefully research the affliated church (the local one, NOT the denomination per se) with the school. You can also ask directly, "would you welcome a family with gay parents", ect. You can't stereotype either way.

But...having said that, a lot of people specifically send their kids to "Christian" schools because they don't want to "expose" their kids to homosexuality or differing beliefs. While the parents may not think that the kids pick up on that and talk about it amongst themselves--that's not the case. My experience with Christian schools is that quite often (not always) the kids are given opportunities for activism (direct experience with anti-abortion and "anti-homosexuality" as well as creation science--we didn't have intelligent design in my day ), and kids being kids, the child that speaks up and says they don't want to participate or they don't believe that is not always welcomed by the other kids.

To be honest, I would personally feel more comfort with Jesuit or other rigorous academic tradition Catholic schools than I would most evangelical "Christian" schools due to my own personal experiences with the anti-intellectual social conservative movement. That may be way dated though. I hope that it is.

I just think if you are going to ask your children to be a religious/social minority in their new school you really need to look beyond the average test scores. If they get bullied/harassed or have teachers that only want the answers regurgitated back to them and will penalize "wrong" thinking--then you'll just be out $$, time, energy...and your kids could have gotten just as high of test scores as well as college credit elsewhere.

Don't assume anything. Ask directly how the religious aspect shapes student life, and what that entails. You might be pleasantly surprised. Or you might be able to avoid a painful experience for your kids.
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#5 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 12:08 PM
 
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I don't have time to read all the replies, so forgive me if I repeat.

My mom worked at a Catholic highschool, and many of her students and co-workers weren't Catholic. Many weren't any kind of Christian, there were Moslem, Jewish and Hindu students and staff. DH's family are all Buddhists (except for the ones who moved to Dallas and became fundamentalist Christians,) and many have attended various Catholic schools.

Considering your DD's current situation, I would really be thinking "any port in a storm."

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#6 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The Jesuit school is 50% Catholic and we know non-Catholics who go there that have no issue. The Jesuit school as well as the other 2 Catholic schools in question (the sister school and then the coed one that is in the suburbs where my daughter could not attend due to being too advanced, but they wanted to send her to the sister school) both are 85% Catholic. I have gone to fundraisers and such and on occassion, have been present for very anti-protestant conversations. My MIL is very very bigoted and so this has happened when around some of her friends, so it might just be the people she hangs out with. However, one time, it happened with someone who was not associated with her, but had children my children's age. She assumed we were Catholic, which would make sense as we were at a function for MILs church. But she was recommending a Catholic summer camp to me for our children. Then she just started in on those horrible protestants across the street, a different camp in the area. She really made it clear what she thought of protestants.

So, the three Catholic schools (as well as all the Catholic schools in the area) are run by the local diocese and the superintendent is from the local diocese. So they are all run by the same place. So my worry has been, based on how MIL acts, that my children could be left feeling very uncomfortable for not being Catholic. However, the big advantage to the Catholic school is that my inlaws want my children there so bad that they have offered to help pay.

I will have to post about the other situation in a short bit. My little guy just threw his yogart and it is all over him and the high chair and floor..need to go.
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#7 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, in the bathroom now with toddler soaking, LOL.

On the Christian school, my husband is very anti-religion. He would label himself agnostic, as he says he still believes in God and afterlife, but he does not get any of the "Jesus people" and such. He was raised in the Catholic church and went to Jesuit school, but is adamently not Catholic and wants to have nothing to do with the Catholic church basically. He is an evolutionist, but is prolife and anti-gay marriage. On the other hand, I am a creationist. But I am not sexist. Fundamental Christians generally do not like when a woman makes more than the man, or things like that. I am prolife and pro-gay marriage. The only parts of the bible I take as being the word of God are the first 4 books of the new Testament as those are the ones that state what Jesus said. I don't really care about what Peter or Paul or anyone else said, or anyones interpretation of it. But I do think it is important for one to know all about these things as well as other religions as it helps us all to understand each other better when we understand each others religions. Religion is a basis to life, for just about everyone, even those who are athiest. Our beliefs form us. I do not think our children will run in to issues with beliefs clashes at the Christian schools because they had been involved in Christian homeschool groups and we used Christian curricula for homeschooling. (as well as secular, such as Singapore Math and Real Science 4 Kids, etc). My children are well versed in both evolution and creationism and they get to chose for themselves. I can tell you, one of my high schoolers is an evolutionist and the other is an intelligent design person. I must say that I am definitely more of an intelligent design person than I am creationism, but, the point is, this particular issue won't matter a whole lot. I do get worried because I do know some Christian schools do have watered down academics, as do many of the public schools and Catholic schools, no school is immune to this problem. But I did look extensively at these schools and there is no school on my list using questionable materials.

As an additional option, we could just leave the children where they are at. They are at that charter school. I know it is pretty low performing, but the teachers seem quite enthusiastic. It is basically a Christian charter school. I know people like to think religion never hits the public schools, but there are charter schools that really end up being of one religion or another. I aw one the other day where the entire population was Hindu. I know of another that is Muslim. This one is completely run by people who had been running a Christian school and converted it over to charter. My children tend to be self starters and self studiers so they can make up for the lack of academics in their spare time, which they do. They have been studying the AP guides for the classes which are AP but do not have AP material, that sort of thing. I also purchased books for some of their classes for extra study on the side and have been teaching them in the subjects where I feel the school is not up to snuff on. The people at the charter school are actually quite nice and the staff is too, so we have no issues like that. After the nasty nasty experiences we had in the local public schools, this charter school has been such a nice experience. I just had kind of hoped for more or better. Maybe I should stop looking for better and leave things alone for now.
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#8 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 07:08 PM
 
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Hi Lisa--I just had to reply to your post. I am also from Dallas, and as it so happens, my MIL teaches theology at Jesuit (assuming you mean the one on Inwood). I will add here that I am not Catholic, but of course she is. She has studied so many different religions and is super open minded, and certainly never critical of other faiths. I guess there are 2-3 other theology teachers there though. I have no idea what would happen outside the classroom--from what she says, they always enjoy hearing opinions from other faiths, and that it makes for better class discussions.

We are undergoing a similar struggle in the area--we have been homeschooling up until this year. We found it hard to find a good fit--the secular groups seemed almost anti-christian, and the christian groups, like you mentioned seemed to only want to associate within their own group or denomination. A lot of the faith statements made me too uncomfortable to sign.

My older dd is in public school this year, but I'm still looking for a good private school or hoping to return to homeschooling. We toured one Catholic school last spring, and I didn't tell them I was protestant until the end of the tour and our discussion. They didn't treat me differently after hearing I was protestant. They never would/could tell me an exact percentage of non-catholic kids.

We looked at one general Christian school, and they only had chapel once a week. They said it was mostly praise type music with conduct lesson based on scripture. This was Grapevine Faith--I really liked that school, but their application had a rather lengthly inquiry regarding the faith of our family, and my dh didn't like that (he's similar to your dh).
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#9 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Lisa--I just had to reply to your post. I am also from Dallas, and as it so happens, my MIL teaches theology at Jesuit (assuming you mean the one on Inwood). I will add here that I am not Catholic, but of course she is. She has studied so many different religions and is super open minded, and certainly never critical of other faiths. I guess there are 2-3 other theology teachers there though. I have no idea what would happen outside the classroom--from what she says, they always enjoy hearing opinions from other faiths, and that it makes for better class discussions.

We are undergoing a similar struggle in the area--we have been homeschooling up until this year. We found it hard to find a good fit--the secular groups seemed almost anti-christian, and the christian groups, like you mentioned seemed to only want to associate within their own group or denomination. A lot of the faith statements made me too uncomfortable to sign.

My older dd is in public school this year, but I'm still looking for a good private school or hoping to return to homeschooling. We toured one Catholic school last spring, and I didn't tell them I was protestant until the end of the tour and our discussion. They didn't treat me differently after hearing I was protestant. They never would/could tell me an exact percentage of non-catholic kids.

We looked at one general Christian school, and they only had chapel once a week. They said it was mostly praise type music with conduct lesson based on scripture. This was Grapevine Faith--I really liked that school, but their application had a rather lengthly inquiry regarding the faith of our family, and my dh didn't like that (he's similar to your dh).
I am going to email you with the list of schools we are considering. We have a fair number of people in our neighborhood going to Faith, but I really liked Covenant in Colleyville. But there are more so I will private message you.
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#10 of 15 Old 10-06-2010, 07:42 PM
 
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As a Jew, I would send my child to a Catholic school over a generic "Christian" school if I'd decided against PS and those were the options.

I associate Christian schools with anti-science, fundamentalist, insular thinking. (I'm not talking about Episcopal schools, which are a totally different kettle of fish, but ones that use "Christian" in the name, like "Rock Ridge Christian School"). Maybe there are some that are different, but my impression is that these are places for people who don't want their kids to come in contact with folks who aren't Christian or may have different values and whose academic standards are rather lax.

Catholic schools, on the other hand, tend to attract parents from a variety of faiths who have in common a desire for the historically excellent academics and for their kids to be exposed to some of the more praiseworthy values of Catholicism, like the importance of a life of service and of working for peace and justice (which you don't tend to hear as much about due to current scandals). Everyone I know who went to Catholic school learned about evolution. These people had to go to religion class and yeah, crucifixes everywhere, but they came out of it still with their original religion (or none) and definitely tolerant of others.

I am sure that criticizing of non-Catholics went on way back in the day. I've heard about the whole "pagan baby" thing. But that is not what I associate with current Catholic schools, who tend to draw their students from a very wide pool.
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#11 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 11:02 AM
 
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Will moving your kids to a priv. Catholic or Christain school impact their access to things such as science labs, advanced level courses, etc? I ask because my experience is that the public or very established (and pricey) private, schools here have more resources in that arena.
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#12 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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I'm with you, zinemama. I know my parents' generation had the whole "pagan baby" thing, but we never did anything odd like that during my Catholic education... Most of the emphasis on mission work, etc., focused on peace/justice and serving people's basic needs (Maryknoll and the like) overseas as opposed to an evangelization focus.

My son is going to a Christian school right now, and they almost seem proud of the anti-intellectualism. I would choose Catholic school in a heartbeat. We won't be living here for many more years, so I'm trying to relax about the early elementary years here...

Anyway, I attended Catholic school and I just wanted to throw out there that most of the kids in my school were not RC. Their parents simply wanted a more structured environment for the kids (dress code, rules enforced, etc.) with a good education and such. Everyone learned the basics of the RC faith and memorized the Ten Commandments/books of the Bible, etc., but nobody I graduated with that was not Catholic to start with ever converted to Catholicism, for what that is worth. In fact, most of the Catholic students I'm aware of now are not actually practicing Catholics -- but that is an entirely different thread and debate I do not want to initiate. I guess what I am saying is: I worry more about the evangelical Christian school environment than I do about the Catholic school environment. YMMV.

Good luck with whatever you decide. It sounds like your kids are fine at their current school, and I completely agree with you: I would never go into debt over high school.

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#13 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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I guess what I am saying is: I worry more about the evangelical Christian school environment than I do about the Catholic school environment. YMMV.
I agree with this statement.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#14 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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Don't assume anything. Ask directly how the religious aspect shapes student life, and what that entails. You might be pleasantly surprised. Or you might be able to avoid a painful experience for your kids.
This

I teach at a Christian based preschool. We do bible stories and songs, it is totally nondemoninational and a 'liberal' view. In fact we are doing a unit on dinosaurs right now.

The church that runs it is Baptist (I am non denominational), but I went over the religious teachings before working there (my kids attend as well) and it was general enough that I agree with it.

They also have a fantastically broad student base. The atmosphere is very multi-ethnic and although I do think almost all the families are Christian (I know that one is not) they come from many different churches and family make-ups.

You just dont know until you visit, ask, and get more information. I looked into other Christian schools in the area and a few others were broad based non-denominational, but a few were very very 'strict' in beliefs and teachings, with a few in between.
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#15 of 15 Old 10-07-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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I live near you too, especially if you are considering schools in the grapevine/colleyville area. On the Christian/Catholic issue, it would really depend on the school itself. I am Catholic (and therefor Christian), but there are many Christian schools here that I would probably choose over most of the Catholic schools for a variety of reasons. I agree that you would need to visit the schools in person to get a feeling for how accepting they would be. I would first weigh the schools based on the accademic offerings. Then I would look at extra curricular activities and their approach to teaching religion. The latter might be a dealbreaker for your husband for one school or another, and make the decision much easier for you. What public school district are you in? If you are in GCISD, have you looked into what the public school has to offer? Keller and Southlake are also known to have great schools.

My son my only be in preschool, but I have obsessed over the various private schools in the area, especially ones that could potentially take him from preschool/K until high school.

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