Should I consider public school? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have homeschooled up until this point but our older two kids will definitely be going to school in September. Homeschooling isn't an option for us anymore at this point. We were really hoping to get the kids into Christian school and applied for a grant to help with tuition. Unfortunately we didn't get the grant and are now kind of in a tailspin. We cannot afford the tuition for the private schools without this grant. DH and I are both full-time students and DH is graduating in December 2009 and will be making very good pay at that point so starting the 2010-2011 school year we will be able to afford private school but that means we need to at least find a place for the kids for 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. We were going to try and figure out a way to pay the tuition but I've crunched the numbers over and over and we really can't afford it. So now we are considering looking into public school. We are in Ontario, Canada and the public school that we are zoned for isn't a huge school so that is good. I've just always sworn I would never use public schools (mainly my concern is what types of things the kids will be exposed to at a public school) so getting past that mindset is kind of difficult. The obvious benefit of a public school is of course that it is free. Also my son has bipolar and in a public school they have to provide him any special needs services that he needs. My MIL works for the school board and she says the school is a good school (of course she is biased as she wants us to put the kids in public school).
The school goes from JK-grade 6 and there are 250 students, 25% of which have English as their second language. It goes from 9:10am-3:30pm with two eating/play breaks - one from 10:50am-11:30am and one from 1:10pm-1:50pm.

Our other option is the local Catholic school but we aren't guaranteed that we would get in there. It is free but they want at least one parent to be baptized in the Catholic church and neither of us are Catholic. I contacted them months back just for interest sake and they said they occasionally let non-Catholic families in at their discretion. We aren't Catholic so the kids would be learning stuff contrary to their beliefs there as well. There are 300 students from JK-grade 8. Their best friends (our neighbours) go to that school (their father is Catholic, or was). My friend (their mother) says that she is happy with the school, but she is pretty laid back about everything and very mainstream so that doesn't necessarily mean I would be happy with it.

So do I figure out some way to pay for private school or do go with public school, at least for 2 years until DH is done school? The kids will be going into grades 1 and 2 so they would be in public school at least for grade 1 & 2 (Olivia) and grade 2 & 3 (Elijah). Eliana isn't due to start JK until 2010. Thanks for any input.

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 10:59 PM
 
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in a public school they have to provide him any special needs services that he needs
This is a great selling point of public schools.

mama to DS 9 and DD 5 and
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#3 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 11:15 PM
 
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You can always try it and change your mind if you don't like it. You may find it's great.
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#4 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 08:00 AM
 
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I'll be honest, I find that the urban area where I teach, parents usually get out of school what they put into the school. There are some really, really knock out students in my school because their parents are involved. For parents that aren't involved....well, it shows.

You sound like a very involved parent. I'll bet the results will be good for you.
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#5 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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I would go with the public school. Yeah, they might pick up stuff you do not want them too - but really, that can happen at any school -private, Christain, whatever....

At 250 kids, are their 2 classes per grade level? I find that helps - not all teachers are a good fit for individual children, and some children should not be in the same class with other children - choice is nice! The school my son attends (part time) only has one grade per school. I wish we had more

Another thing I would like into, and this was a big deal for me, was the ratio of staff to kids outside during recess and lunch. In our area, only 2 staff are required to be out (for 150 kids!!!) and this drove me bonkers, worrying about safety and bullying etc....

Good luck in your decision, from


Kathy, another Ontario mommy (near Ottawa)

ETA: My son was HS until grade 3. He is now in grade six, and has been going to school part time since grade 3.

When I put him in school, I was not pleasantly suprised to find out the the math curriculum in school seems pretty weak, and that everything is highly written focused. It might prove usefull for you to ask to see the grade 2 math and language art workbooks, or peek through some schooled childrens homework. You have a bit of time now to build on weak areas.
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#6 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 03:17 PM
 
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Public school didn't work for us because of the severe behavioral problems there (well I considered them to be severe). PSs have their hands tied when it comes to discipline or removing really disruptive students. (By "hands tied" I'm not talking about physical discipline or anything-- for instance at a local public school a class of kids was made to sit facing a wall without talking for 20 minutes because they had been out of control in the lunchroom. The parents went crazy when they heard theism called it child abuse, and files lawsuits.) And a child practically has to murder someone before s/he is sent to an "alternative" school.

But not all public schools have a bad behavioral environment... you have to go there and look around, and see what your gut tells you. Make sure to visit before the end of the school year. Same for the catholic school. Visit, watch the kids, do they look stressed, relaxed, are they unruly, are they mean to each other, considerate, etc.. Are the teachers/ staff kind to the kids... those are the things to look for.

Hang in there! I am in a similar position to you-- HSing didn't work out so we had to find an alternative. It worked out in the end.
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#7 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 07:22 PM
 
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My kids attend public school, there are approx 200 kids in the school from K-6.

There is NOTHING that the kids would be exposed to in public school that they would not be exposed to in Private or Catholic school.

Quote:
In our area, only 2 staff are required to be out (for 150 kids!!!) and this drove me bonkers, worrying about safety and bullying etc....
I am the Noon Supervisor for my dd's school. There are approx 200 kids, 2 people is more than enough & all the kids are outside at the same time unless there is something special going on(noon games - each grade has their own day during the winter, science club, choir, right now running club). There are 2 main playgrounds plus the soccer field, baseball diamond, basketball courts. If we don't see something the kids are really good at letting us know if there's an issue. Most days there are no problems at all. To be honest the most problems that do come out are really small things like "so & so put a sticker on my back".lol

The school here follows a positive behaviour plan. Parents & kids have to read & sign it at the beginning of the year.

There are 1.5 classes per grade. K is 2 full classes becuase they go on different days(but 1 teacher). The rest of the school had Grade 1, Grade 1/2 split, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 3/4 split, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 5/6 split, Grade 6. Each class has 1 teacher except 2 grades (4 & 6) have job share with 2 teachers. The 1 in Grade 6 is also the Vice Principal & that's why he job shares. There is a separate French teacher + about 15 other staff members being TA's, librarian, EA's, janitor, principal. During lunch the kids eat in their classes. the school is divided into 3 pods. There is 1 Lunch Supervisor in each pod. They get 25min to eat & then they go outside. 1 of the Lunch Supervisors stays inside for inside supervision of kids who are staying inside. 2 other people are outside.
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#8 of 24 Old 04-28-2008, 08:42 AM
 
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I attended public kindergarten as a child, a private Christian school for 1st and 2nd grade, public school for 3rd and 4th, and then back to the same Christian school for 5th-9th. (Yes, I was bounced around to family a lot as a child)

There was no real benefit to the Christian school I went to as far as I can see. It sheltered me from a larger group of people, which my grandmother thought I needed. (I was a very sensitive child, diagnosed with Asperger's as an adult) Unfortunately, the same cruel things were there in private school were there in the public school too. Only in private school it was just that.. more private. There was no one I could tell about things that happened. And no way for me to blend in and escape the torment. I was a target every single day. But at least I wasn't a behavior problem myself, or I would have been on the receiving end of the paddle. When I turned to the pastor/teacher for help, he turned on me himself.. kissing me and touching me whenever he could sneak it in. He gave me love letters every day telling me he wanted to leave his wife and marry me and make babies with me. It was highly confusing and traumatic for me.

Yes, I did finally speak out but no one believed me. Small town, no action was made.

Now, this is not to say all private schools are like this. I know they aren't! Please don't misinterpret what I'm saying. Its not meant as an insult to those that love parochial schools. This is just my ONE experience. And its a fairly recent experience. I'm only 29.

In public school there are more teachers, more witnesses, more students. In the private school I went to, it was just too small. There was no one to turn to.

Also, my own special needs were overlooked. I was expected to do the same things as other kids in the same way. Because of this, I lost a lot of self esteem by not being able to complete the same tasks in front of me. Yet no one would help me. I started cheating on my work, which was very easy. All the other kids did it and no one cared. Using the ACE system, you score your own work. Which means I could easily not mark things wrong and yet still correct them, or sometimes not even do the work and just score them to get the answers to write in. Guess what happened at test time? The teacher/pastor would give us the answers if we didn't know them.

There are entire subjects that I still am clueless about. When I entered public school I was WAY ahead according to my scores... but no one knew how little I really learned.

I know its off topic really, but I just felt like I wanted to put my two cents in about my experience in both places. I feel there can be more accountability in public school. As funny as it is to say that in a time when most people are in an outcry about the LACK of accountability.. but IMO there really is.

As much as socialization was difficult for me in public school... I really wish I had been in it all the way. (And this is coming from someone who really really wants/wanted to home school my own child but realized I just couldn't right now.)

btw, yes the school I went to is still there and still run by the same people in the same exact way.

treehugger.gifAutistic pagan mama with five kiddos on the spectrum, learning through living life. autismribbon.gif  computergeek2.gif

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#9 of 24 Old 04-28-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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[QUOTE=CarrieMF;11078190]


I am the Noon Supervisor for my dd's school. There are approx 200 kids, 2 people is more than enough & all the kids are outside at the same time unless there is something special going on(noon games - each grade has their own day during the winter, science club, choir, right now running club). There are 2 main playgrounds plus the soccer field, baseball diamond, basketball courts. If we don't see something the kids are really good at letting us know if there's an issue. Most days there are no problems at all. To be honest the most problems that do come out are really small things like "so & so put a sticker on my back".lol

QUOTE]


This will simply have to be one of those "agree to disagree" situations

I think what is important is for the the OP to know a low ratio is a possibility and to figure out where her comfort level lies with regards to supervision.

Kathy
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#10 of 24 Old 04-28-2008, 02:01 PM
 
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My dd's smallish public school is a great school. The class sizes are kept to about 20ish for the lower grades anyway, dd is only in K, so I'm not sure about the higher grades. Special needs kids have an aide and are provided with any help they need. This aide also communicates on a daily basis back to the parent - via a communication book that is passed back and forth. I think in some cases, the parent can actually have some say in the aide that is assigned to their child. A friend of mine has a son with some special needs (not sure of any diagnosis), and he had an aide when he was in public school for K and then when she moved him to a private Christian school he no longer had that help. He was really struggling, so she pulled him out and homeschooled him for grade 3 with some help from her homeschooling experienced mom. She is putting him back in school for grade 4, but back in public school. This is purely anectodal of course, but just something to think about and show that not all public schools are bad.
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#11 of 24 Old 04-28-2008, 03:14 PM
 
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Depends on the individual schools.

There are great public schools and horrible public schools. There are great Catholic ones and awful ones. Great Montessori and bad. You get my drift.

Sit in on classes, if they'll let you. Meet with the teachers. Try to get a sense of what they offer, who they are, what they value, etc.

Should you consider public school? Absolutely! After consideration, you may not decide it's what you want. But you should definitely at least consider it.

Good luck in your decision-making process.

Mom to dd (8), ds (6), and dd (1)

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#12 of 24 Old 04-29-2008, 11:34 AM
 
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Yes, I think you should consider the public school. Not all public schools are horrible, it depends on the individual school. My kids attend a GREAT public school. I looked at the private schools in our area, and none were a good fit for our family.

I know it's hard to go from a homeschooling mindset to a schooling mindset. I think that there is a distinct bias against public school in many homeschooling circles. But if you approach the public school with an open mind, you may find that it meets your needs.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
I'm an unintentional weasel feeder and I suck at proofreading.
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#13 of 24 Old 04-30-2008, 08:14 AM
 
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I am/was a teacher in Ontario- I am currently on an unpaid leave of absence overseas. Definitely check out the public schools. I did my teacher training in London and so many teachers went to Waterloo. Not all public schools are the same although you tend to hear about the bad ones more frequently. You are right that the school will have to provide services for your son which a private school does not need to. Schools with good parental involvement do better of course. Have you talked to the school yet? Talk to the principal and discuss what services are already there and what they can do. Staffing for next year is happening right now so if they need to get permission for more Educational Assistants to help your son then now is the time to do it. Also call the school board and talk with special education department they can tell you about the services. Your son will probably have an IEP and they have documentation for reading and can explain what the school board is able to do for your son and how to get the services. Also go the Ministry of Education website and you can find the documents from the government outlining what they will be doing for students. Also I believe that you can get a copy of the Special Education plan for the whole board from the board office or from its website. I know you didn't ask for advice to proceed but I thought I would help you to at least research what public schools can do. If you want more info please feel free to PM me- I am not in that board but I can help you navigate the system more effectively. In the end check out the school- it certainly can't hurt.

Mama to two loqacious and bouncy boys.
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#14 of 24 Old 04-30-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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Did anyone mention charter schools? Just another avenue to think about. Some charter schools are intentionally smaller and can limit enrollment to that end. Around here there are numerous charter schools that have a religious bent to them, and this might serve to be a nice compromise for you.

Definitely visit all the schools you are interested in -- more than once, if possible. When I visited the schools, I went alone first, then dh visited, and then brought ds along when we were pretty certain about that school. We were also invited to a school event before ds began. Ask as many people as you can about recommendations remembering that a single school is never a "one size fits all" solution.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#15 of 24 Old 04-30-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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I think you should consider the public school. Find out as much as you can about it; there have been some great suggestions from PPs, so I won't repeat them here.

The main thing I want to offer is this: I know you feel your MIL is biased, but she's in a position to really know which public schools are good and which aren't. Surely she wants the best for her grandchildren. If the school were really awful, I would think she would warn you against it.

Best of luck to you.
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#16 of 24 Old 04-30-2008, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post
Did anyone mention charter schools? Just another avenue to think about. Some charter schools are intentionally smaller and can limit enrollment to that end. Around here there are numerous charter schools that have a religious bent to them, and this might serve to be a nice compromise for you.

Definitely visit all the schools you are interested in -- more than once, if possible. When I visited the schools, I went alone first, then dh visited, and then brought ds along when we were pretty certain about that school. We were also invited to a school event before ds began. Ask as many people as you can about recommendations remembering that a single school is never a "one size fits all" solution.
There are no charter schools in our area. Do they even have those in Canada?

I've made an appointment to meet with the principal of the public school on May 6 and also meet with the special education teacher at the school. Unfortunately I have to take my 2 year old with me (And she is a major handful!) but I am going to take a list of questions so that I won't lose my train of thought.

On that note: Can anyone help me with a list of questions that I should ask?

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#17 of 24 Old 05-02-2008, 10:00 AM
 
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Ok here are some questions- I am just going off the top of my head. I am assuming that you are most concerned about DS.

How large are the class sizes next year? Do you expect to there to be a reshuffling after school starts? (Schools reorganize after the numbers are in in September and classes are created and taken apart depending on numbers)
If there is a change how are they going to help you DS with the transition?
What support are they able to provide for your son in school? (i.e EA support, safe space, etc.)
Will he be getting an IEP?
If he needs EA support will he get, how much of the day, short term/long term, one-on-one or shared?
How will the school handle a meltdown? What will the school be able to do to prevent meltdowns?
Does he need to be assessed by the school psychologist? If so how long is the wait time?
What other services might be available to him? What is the wait time to be assessed and access the services? How frequently would he receive those services?
Would they be willing to use/follow recommendations by his private psychiatrists?
How will they help your DS to transition to school?
Can an itinerant EA come in and help support your son and teacher at the beginning of the year? The IEA comes into the classroom, looks at the dynamic and helps to create a program for the teacher with your DS's needs. They then follow up to see how things are going. Nothing scary but very helpful (from a teacher's point of view).

These are the questions I can think of right now. Do you think about talking to the Board's special education department also. They control EA allotment and stuff. There is finite resources so the squeeky wheel gets the grease. You might have to advocate for your DS especially early on but it can be done. Also make sure you understand everything and there are certain guidelines they have to follow. You can always appeal any decision- believe me it can go all the way to tribunal level but rarely gets there. Just be prepared to advocate strongly in the beginning. Also the school will most likely try to do everything they can for your DS but some decisions are made at the Board level which they can't talk about with you. This is why you need to talk to the Board and be prepared. I hope I am not scaring you from public schools. There are wonderful teachers there and I know teachers who left private schools due to the lack of money there for books, supports and such.

PS- Charter schools don't exist in Canada as far as I know.

Mama to two loqacious and bouncy boys.
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#18 of 24 Old 05-02-2008, 11:32 AM
 
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How large are the class sizes next year? Do you expect to there to be a reshuffling after school starts? (Schools reorganize after the numbers are in in September and classes are created and taken apart depending on numbers)

IME the only time kids are moved around AFTER the start of school is if the PARENT requests it.
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#19 of 24 Old 05-02-2008, 01:51 PM
 
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IME the only time kids are moved around AFTER the start of school is if the PARENT requests it.
This has been my experience so far too - though dd is only K. Class assignments at dd's school for all grades except Kindergarten are not announced until the first day of school, this allows them to adjust as they get new registrations over the summer.
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#20 of 24 Old 05-02-2008, 02:15 PM
 
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Well that is not necessarily true in Ontario where I teach and the OP lives. We do not announce class assignments until the first day of school either. In the middle of September the student numbers for a school are sent to the board. There is a formula which is provided by the government which tells you how many teachers you are allowed due to the number of students physically in the school. If you do not have enough students then teachers get cut, if you have more students then teachers get added at the beginning of October. Sometimes there is no change. One year we didn't lose a teacher but they decided to take one from the junior grades and put it in the primary grades which meant teacher assignment and classes changed. Since I know this is a reality- has happened to me almost every year- I felt that she should ask the principal if it is a possibility. While we don't have final numbers we always have a good idea of what is probably going to happen. As teachers we know that the classes are never settled until October.

Mama to two loqacious and bouncy boys.
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#21 of 24 Old 05-05-2008, 04:57 PM
 
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When I was growing up, I attended four different private schools, three protestant and one Catholic, and three public ones. My experience, maybe surprising but true, was that the ones with the healthiest environments happened to be the public ones. When my son was little, he attended two different private schools, neither of them parochial. When I was looking all over the county at various schools for a better fit for him, I was surprised to find that the little public school near our home seemed to have the healthiest environment. By "healthy," I'm referring to the way children related to one another and the way teachers related to the children. I guess it would take some study and research to figure out exactly why this was the case, but it was definitely a strong perception in those cases. That being said, I really don't think that's necessarily a rule of thumb - I think it probably varies from case to case. But I think the public school experience can be a lot better than a lot of people give it credit for. - Lillian
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#22 of 24 Old 05-05-2008, 10:39 PM
 
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My husband is a teacher and I used to teach in pubic schools. Now I can't speak for all schools and teachers, but the experiences I have had in public schools is that most teachers/schools I have seen are doing the very best job they can for our kids with limited resources/pay, and volunteer alot of their own time/paycheck to the school in helping kids. I also have an autistic son and with our imput he recieves services he wouldn't otherwise recieve if he was schooled at home by us or in a private school setting.

There is a lot of benefit from a public school education, some things to monitor (for us especially its other children and how they treat our son having autism and making sure he is getting the accomodations he needs) but with positive parental support at school and home it can be a great experience I wouldn't have it any other way for my kids.
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#23 of 24 Old 05-05-2008, 10:49 PM
 
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The main question I would ask is what form of discipline do they use and what forms of auxiliary support services do they have.
Also, I would ask what their goals are for students and what areas they tend to focus on most: academics, community involvement, sports etc.

I love my kids' public school. They are very focussed on restitution and provide supports for students and families with any behavioural or other issues that may arise. I feel as if the educators at my kids school and I are a team.

ETA: not sure where you are but I'm in BC.
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#24 of 24 Old 05-05-2008, 10:51 PM
 
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From what I hear, a public school is as good as the involvement of it's parents. The best public school in my area has very active, involved parents and attracts so many pupils that it has a waiting list, especially for French immersion! The worst school in my area used to be that way, until demographics changed and there was less parental involvement.

I don't think there's anything wrong with public schools per se. Like another poster, I had notsogreat experiences at a private Christian school as well as public school. It all depends on the school. check it out. Go with your instinct. good luck!
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Online Users: 14,365

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Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.