The Rabbits Go to Public School, Part Two

On the night before Barack Obama casts his socialist spell on the youth of America, I thought I’d finally follow up on my family’s school saga.  If you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you may remember that last year I pulled my kids out of the hoity toity private school they’d always attended.  It wasn’t a philosophical choice.  We just couldn’t afford the astronomical tuition anymore.  I meant to go back to the subject a few months later and tell y’all how my kids were doing in public school, but I never did.


Last week they started their second year in public school, and let me assure you right from the outset: it has been fine.  I know, I know, a sob story about bullying, graffitied bathrooms, and burned-out teachers straight out of Up the Down Staircase would make a better story.  Sorry, but it’s been fine.


The hoity toity private school (HTPS) was aimed at gifted children, and my kids were often top performers in their classes. I would’ve been reluctant to plonk them into regular classrooms.  Fortunately, our school district offers a gifted program.  Both of my girls tested into the program, and were placed in self-contained gifted classrooms—Tigger in 6th grade and Little Bit in 2nd grade.  The kids in the program are very similar to the kids at HTPS, just not as rich.


Both girls had experienced, dedicated, and capable teachers.  Both found their schoolwork adequately challenging.  They gained a bunch of new friends, and unlike the friends at HTPS, the new ones live in our neighborhood.  At the end of the year, both girls concluded that they’d learned more in the public school than they had the previous year at HTPS. (That’s a very powerful statement, considering the many thousands of dollars I didn’t spend to get a superior education.) 


Well, it was just one year.  Admittedly I’ve patted myself on the back for the wisdom of my (forced) choice to move them, but I’m not complacent.  Who could be complacent when their eldest child was three days into the Big Scary Public Middle School (BSPMS)?


In our district, middle school is just seventh and eighth grades.  So, one year after being rudely yanked out of the private school she’d loved and thrived in since preschool, Tigger had to switch schools yet again.   


The middle school is a sprawling labyrinth of buildings connected by walkways twisting every which way.  The children have five minutes to find their way from one class to the next.  There’s no homeroom—no teacher assigned to be an advisor to a group of kids.  If they have a problem they’d better find a way to solve it themselves.  No more coddling for these twelve- and thirteen-year-olds. 


In contrast, at Hoity Toity Private School (which goes up to 8th grade) the (tiny) middle school is contained in one cozy building.  Kids have an advisor teacher as well as subject teachers.  Transitions between classes are much gentler.  At the end of the day, a fleet of minivan-driving parents arrives to whisk their progeny away.  At BSPMS the kids walk home, or catch the bus.


Reading over what I’ve written, it sounds like the coddling private school will turn out soft, spoiled teens who can’t wipe their own butts, while the rugged public school kids will be ready for solo expeditions in treacherous environs (aka high school).  I don’t know if that’s true.  I know that my kid is going to do well.  She’s smart and adaptable and always up for a new challenge.  My younger child will also have a great year.  She’s the most responsible, hard-working little kid I’ve ever met. 


If I won the lottery, would I move the kids back to private school?  Not this year.  It is always better to have options than not to have them, but the Mega Millions jackpot has eluded me thus far.  We’ll make do.


16 thoughts on “The Rabbits Go to Public School, Part Two

  1. Well, you know I homeschooled for 4 years and now have one kid in each kind of institutional schooling (youngest in coddling cozy private school, eldest in scary public junior high), so I have opinions on the pros and cons of each approach… but the bottom line is that they’ll all turn out o.k.  All we can do is try to do what is best for each kid, each year, as allowed by bank account.   Oh yeah, and my 7th grader has THREE MINUTES between classes… so your kid has it easy 😉   

  2. We have to train them to cope in a world of public life. I wasn’t ready after being sheltered. I was a home schooled kid. I say the sooner the better. As long as kids have a base of security, I think, kids can handle everything. Something my parents didn’t know.My husband and I talk about this too public vs private. But they are getting a good education in the public system and they soon have input with their own personality into that system. 🙂 Public schools are not perfect but neither was private school for me. Stresses are part of the learning process and the sooner a kid learns to deal with these stressess the better they will handle adult life. Part of the job of raising them I say. I am a softy at home so it has been so good for them to have structure and personal responsibility. :0) Best of Luck in the following year.

  3. @transvestite_rabbit – maybe it’s a smaller campus.   But when we went to back-to-school night, they gave us 3 minutes between classroom visits as we followed our kids schedule, and it was STRESSFUL!   Other parents would try to talk to me and I was, like, “I can’t talk! I have to get to science class all the way over in the next building!”  haha – I guess that is precisely the idea 😉   

  4. I’m glad to hear a good story about public school.  I bitch about my own kids’ schools sometimes, but there is a lot that is good about them too.  Our district has the same middle school (grade 7-8 only) with no homerooms, a four-building campus, etc, and everybody seems to manage just fine. 

  5. Out of 6 kids, my dad sent half to private and half to public school.  I’m part of the public school half.  We all survived.  Probably the biggest difference people can see straight away, though, is the public school family members socialize with people who don’t have a lot of money whereas my privately schooled brother and sisters are treading the line of Stepford-ish types. 

  6. “Public school ” is a phrase that describes thousands of schools that range from awful to excellent.Much depends on the funding , the administrator ,and absolutely the individual student’s  coping abilities. I have had to become a strong advocate for my youngest because while highly gifted she did not adapt well to our high school She is doing great now because she was placed in a program that addresses her emotional needs as well as her academic. Some kids tough it out and even thrive when schools are  not serving them but too many disengage. .I  imagine that  you will follow your children’s educational progress as closely as you do their over all maturation and if you need to help them you will. My experience is that if help is needed it can be gotten from a public institution but it can take some doing to make it happen.

  7. I can’t believe you were so worried about Tigger starting Middle School. Knowing her, she probably made a dozen new friends on the first day.   After 3 days she’s probably running the place. She’s TIGGER!  Sheeesh.

  8. I am so glad things are working out with public school!  We had a gifted program in the public school i was in growing up but looking back I think it was very political. I ended up in the program one year when I was in 5th grade-ish and it was actually very uncomfortable because all the doctor’s and lawyer’s kids had been in it together since 1st grade and I, with my less-than-stellar social skills, was definitely an outsider.  It sounds like this program is goes the full week, which sounds a lot better than the 1 day/week thing I was in.  Hmm. It’s all a very vague memory.  Maybe the 3 minutes between classes is part of their exercise program?

  9. Ha! I had to laugh about the uproar about Obama speaking to students, because I remember the EXACT. SAME. THING. when Bush #1 spoke to school kids (something about science….).  I thought it was stupid then, (man, were those Democrats bitching!) just as I thought it was stupid now (man, were those Republicans bitching!).  What did they think the president’s going to say? And doesn’t each president usually speak to school kids?  Meh. I’m just tired of folks bitching about whomever’s in office.  Your guy lost. The end. Deal with it for the next 3 years and however many months.As for which schooling’s best–I know that if I’d been homeschooled, I’d have turned out worse!  I wasn’t much for socializing (still don’t like it much), but if the only teacher was my mother?  I’d have died and gone to heaven, but I know that I’d be lacking for social skills.  Just depends on the child’s personality.

  10. Some in these parts think the public schools are BETTER than the private ones.  Who knows.  Often you hear about the more nurturing environment of a private school, though.  Smaller classes, more one-on-one conversations, fewer social demands, more sensitivity…thus my husband’s belief that we should toss them in the public school pool and make sure they can swim.

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