The Great Public Vs Private Debate

Originally Posted on Lifetime Moms

Oh, the great debate over public versus private gives me great anxiety – and no, I am not talking about my Facebook profile settings (which, by the way, I still can’t quite seem to master). I am talking about the internal and external debate over public education versus private education.

Now, my New York City born and bred daughter is only 2-years-old and change, but that doesn’t stop me from breaking into a cold sweat when I hear colleagues and friends talking about the applications to get the application, and wait lists, and interviews and testing, and oh let’s not forget about an enormous price tag that are all associated with private schools.  A year in a private school in this city can cost as much, if not more, than a year at a university.

But then again, public school is not without its panic inducing factors.  Everything from not being able to afford to live in the neighborhoods that are zoned for the better performing public schools, to the testing for “gifted and talented” programs as soon as my child leaves her toddler years, to constant concerns about re-zoning forcing my child to have a longer commute to school than I have to work, do anything but put my mom mind at ease.

I know New York City is in a class of its own when it comes to complications and stresses surrounding elementary education, but I can’t name one of my mom friends who lives anywhere (in or out of a city) who HASN’T stressed about education and the decisions surrounding it. Now, in my pre-baby days, I recall wondering what the big deal was – especially for younger kids.  How different can teaching the ABCs and 123s REALLY be people?

But now that I have a child of my own, I have spent many nights researching and reading about everything from different methods of teaching and learning, to how much homework is actually appropriate for different age groups, and what the homework does to help a child learn. Some schools believe in large amounts of homework, some don’t. Some schools believe in a more self-motivated way of learning, some are centered around a stricter curriculum, and on, and on, and on it goes.

And here is what I see as the core of the problem for parents – there is no clear right or wrong answer here. It’s not like whether or not you should let your child play with matches.

But with education, the answer is much less clear, and there are no one size fits all answers, which is what freaks me out the most.  Especially because education is the key to, well, everything. I want my child to have every possible resource available to her, so that she has an excellent foundation on which to build her life. That is my number one job as a mom.

I have come to realize that the gray areas in parenting are the ones that typically give us the greatest pause, and often the greatest angst. And I suppose when it comes to the great public versus private debate, it will come down to an assessment of my child’s needs, my family’s financial situation, a lot of research, trust in my decision making ability – and a little leap of faith.