This year, my goal is to write more and teach more. I'm starting that resolution by answering one of the most common questions I hear as the owner of Illini Tutoring: Where should I send my child to high school?
This answer isn't easy, but having worked with over a thousand students and their families in the past seven years, I can give you a very unique perspective. So, I'll be answering this question in three parts, starting with The Myths of Public and Private School.
Myth 1: Public schools are a last resort option for my child
Some public schools aren't great, but the public school options in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities are really top-notch! They are well-funded and have a diverse student population, which means that they have quality classes and extracurricular activities for all types of students. I graduated from Centennial, and I know many, many alumni who are successful in all kinds of fields. Illini Tutoring has seen many public school students go on to some of the most competitive universities in the country.
Myth 2: Private schools provide a better education than public schools
No, not necessarily. There are many types of private schools and public schools. It's hard to measure the quality of education at one school compared to another because there are so many variables that influence how well our teachers teach and our students learn. But there hasn't been a conclusive study that has shown private schools are better than public schools. In fact, it may surprise you that one of our local public schools is one of the top high schools in the country!
It would take thousands and thousands of words to describe the differences between private and public schools, but I can summarize the difference in one word: selectivity. Public schools are open to anyone in the district. Private schools have the right to be more selective, which ultimately means their students come from nearly identical socioeconomic levels. Some private schools offer scholarships to help increase student diversity. Some families value higher selectivity and some families value higher diversity. There is merit in each, and your family must decide which option lines up with your goals best.
Myth 3: I need to send my child to _____ to protect them from _____.
It is inevitable: if you throw hundreds or thousands of teenagers (or anyone, for that matter!) in a building for 7 hours a day, there will always be problems. I'll say directly that all of our local high schools - private and public - are great places to learn and none of them have problems that are so serious and widespread that it is difficult for students to get a quality education. You will find every unsavory activity at every high school. The best way to protect your child from getting involved in risky activities is to keep an open dialogue about the consequences of making good and bad decisions. Encourage your child to stay active in extracurricular activities, like sports, band, drama, newspaper, yearbook - anything that fills your child's time with positive activity that builds self-esteem and promotes healthy decisions.
Myth 4: Private school should be better because it's so expensive.
Private schools charge tuition because they receive no tax dollars. Public schools are run almost exclusively on tax dollars, and they are also supported by student fees and donations. Unit 4 spends $11,325 per student each year. That sounds similar to private school tuition - in reality, spending per student is fairly similar across schools. You may also be surprised to learn that public school teachers are often paid more than their private school colleagues.
In the next part of Where Should I Send My Child to High School?, I'll point out the advantages of each high school in our area and discuss why parents and students chose that school above the others. Comment below with your suggestions!
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