This could be a one-sentence post.
Beginning, middle, and end. Complet, as the French say. But while it would be technically true, it wouldn't begin to cover the complexity of the choice, and it certainly wouldn't explain how we've been from private school to home school to private school to public school, all in eight years.
So here we go. I'll try to explain and you'll try to understand what passes for reasoning in my tortured brain. You will then (a) wonder how on earth I got through law school, and (b) have great pity on my husband, who lives with this kind of "logic" every day.
Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes, now I remember. Public school: reasons for. I've found them; here they are:
After sampling the great offering of schooling out there - two very different private ones, a public one, and a year of home school - it has become painfully obvious that we are blessed with a ridiculously good public elementary school just a mile from our house. Teachers in one of the largest urban districts in the country wait years to get an interview at this school, never mind a job. Parents make home-buying choices based on our school zone. Other parents battle the magnet school lottery, hoping for the award of one of the few spots. Seriously, when I look at this public school in comparison to the private schools I've encountered, the only difference is the uniforms: they wear them and we don't. Oh, and in the price: did I mention that our school is free?
That's the basic reasoning, and it holds true most of all for our particular elementary school. A sheltered place, a good curriculum, a fine arts and music magnet, children from over 40 birth-countries, mothers with more post-graduate degrees than me - all in all, a rare and precious find.
But public school overall? Public school for middle and high school? That choice is another ball of wax altogether. We think we're committed to public school all the way through graduation. We've learned through experience that God isn't very interested in our "commitments", though, so we're open to being turned in a different direction, should He decide that's what's going on. But assuming we've got it right, and the boys are in public school for the long haul: why?
First of all, the options for middle and high school look good. There are two options for middle school other than the one to which we're zoned. We'll be checking both of them out this fall, although if I had to choose today I already have a heavy favorite. We'll also look at where we're zoned; it has a patchy reputation, but it's getting better every year. By the time Two is ready, it may be the easiest choice. For high school, the situation is similar. Our zoned high school has an IB program to apply to, and there is a magnet high school with very high marks that we're very interested in investigating. It may be a better choice than the IB program, especially if the boys aren't interested in playing high school team sports. Basically it guarantees they will be surrounded by more than the average number of what most people would call "dorks", but what I call "good friend material".
All of our public middle and high school options have a varied mix of kids from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and that is one of the points in their favor. The private schools here tend to be very, very uniform in their composition - and since that's not the environment in which the boys will live when they're grown, I see no reason for them to spend their "formative years" there. To me, one of the big reasons to stick with public school for middle and high school - especially in our large, city district - is that it looks like the city itself. To be perfectly blunt: if my upper-middle class Anglo kids stay in private school for the entire childhoods, they'll be surrounded by other children just. like. them. And they will therefore learn to work with and be friends only with children just. like. them. They will see people of other races and backgrounds - especially people with less than them economically - as different, puzzling, and (perhaps) uncomfortable to be around.
It's entirely my opinion, I know, but I don't think that is much of an education to give them. And as long as the pen-and-paper education at public school meets our expectations, it's not going to be the education they get.