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Sharing What The Curriculum is Like In Private (Catholic ) and Public

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My son went to a private catholic school for two years (1st and 2nd grade). There were 600 students (grade preschool through 8th grade). Tuition was higher compared to a private catholic school on the east coast ($8,000 per year).


Every inclass assignment including homework was graded in private school. In first grade there was math homework (Everyday Math) four days a week and practice your spelling words. In third grade the teacher stressed how it was important for my son to head his spelling assignment correctly. All that was learned in class was reinforced at home through the homework. There was ALOT of homework. Spelling four days a week, English four days a week, including math with occasionally a Science, and Social Studies test to study for. The teachers provided study guides in second grade for Science and Social Studies although inclass lessons were graded leading up to the tests. Science seemed advanced. Spelling and English was one year in advanced. Near the end of the year Reading was advanced up one level. He also practiced his cursive handwriting in class at times. Constantly working with repetitive activity increased your child chances of doing well. The grading system was tough. 93-100 was considered an A, 92-86 was considered a B, 85-78 is considered a C. Any grade below 86 was considered poor. As a parent you really had to afterschool your child when the teacher did not spend too much time in a particular area because they moved pretty fast.


My son had his own books for each subject!! All parents had to pay $375 a year (not included in the tuition) for renting books.


Anyway this system worked for my son, but I believe he was mentally exhausted and stressed due to teachers screaming at other students. There were 26 to 28 students in the classroom with teachers who may have been in their early to late 50s to early 60s.


Now we are in public with YOUNG teachers with barely any experience barely out of college. The school is only 3 years old.


Two homerooms of 40 students share textbooks. There is barely or no practice in class through homework or inclass assignments on concepts the Reading teacher is introducing in class. She lectures and writes and expects the kids to just listen. Social studies involves looking at a movie (cartoon) on a computer about for example, Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman and taking notes while watching the movie. There aren't any study guides or materials to help your student study for a test. I had to file a complaint with the principal to actually get a study guide because there was no information on how to help my son study. The Reading homework he received twice a week the first semester before I complained was busy work. It did not help him at all with preparing for a test. Now that I complained I see perhaps one or two homework assignments that will help him prepare for the test. The public school teachers have this attitude that the students study in class and the teacher goes over what they are expected to know in class in regards to the test.


I couldn't believe that parents were basically cut off from helping their child without notes, books or homework to reinforce what they were taught. I had to do supplement and go on the internet to reinforce what my child was learning in school. I believe the teachers do not want to spend the time looking at work outside the classroom. They cannot be bothered. They sent a letter and had parents sign I believe that teachers would check homework for accuracy. The homework is not checked for example, the Reading teacher just stamps a smiley face on it to acknowledge it is there. 50% of the time the Reading and Math teachers don't check the homework yet parents are told if the student does not do the homework they will face detention.


They don't require the students to use cursive handwriting or head their papers properly. They don't hold the students to high standards at all. Handwriting is 5% of a student's grade yet the students don't work on it, but they are graded on it.


Advanced work that is given is preparing him for the writing TAKS my son will need to take when he is in 4th grade.


It is very frustrating and difficult to work within this system for now. I am looking for the day to come where I encounter educators that care and are not yelling and screaming from the top of their lungs. I don't want to infer anything by the ethnic makeup of the school that there may be parents, who don't care. This is why the system is set up like this. The student population is 38% African American, 24% Hispanic, 22% white, and 16% Asian with 28% of students being economically disadvantaged. I live in fairly new community (master planned community) and I feel that students aren't receiving a quality education. The entire focus is raising money for the school and maintaining discipline.

Edited by Concerned Mom
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Be careful not to blame the PS teachers for things out of their control. They do not set the budgets and often cannot choose curriculum. If the school does not provide SS and science materials then maybe videos are the best they can do. Some schools don't invest money in subjects that they aren't being tested on which is wrong, but how can you blame them when they have to teach to the tests to avoid sanctions?


Around here, teachers are only given a tiny bit of time to prep/grade (45 min, I think). This cuts down on the amount of work they can assign. My SIL teaches 5/6 and when her class size increased by 8 she had to cut down the amount of work she would have to grade for each student in order to keep up.


It is a shame that parents are shut out. In my experience, the only way to know what is going on is to volunteer in the classroom. Even when my son received speech therapy at school, he was never sent home with ANYTHING so how could I possibly reinforce his speech lessons?

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In the elementary PS I have experience with, there were some good teachers who would have loved a system with more parental involvement. The overwhelming majority of parents in my son's class were completely uninvolved; they treated it like daycare. I don't think the average PS parent gives quite so much thought as you (OP) to reinforcing or supplementing in-class lessons. Sometimes teachers are lucky just to get to meet a kid's parents face-to-face, nevermind getting them to help with homework, and thus, they have to design the curriculum to fit inside classroom hours only. From what you describe, it sounds like you've gone from one extreme where your dc was stressed out to the other, where they expect parents to be very hands-off.


Currently, in my dd's school, if I do not PUSH for info. regarding her classes/lessons/grades, I don't get it. I think they *want* us to drop the kids at the door and not mess with their system (or, this is what I think when I'm irritated w/ it). I have to make it clear that my dd WANTS to actually learn something new, that she WANTS to get the highest GPA possible because she WANTS to go to college. Then they take the earplugs out. :)

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In the private school that your son attended, the teachers may not have been able to handle teaching 28 second graders in 1 classroom. Your son may have been mentally exhausted and stressed due to the class size. How big was the classroom? Was the insulation and carpeting adequate enough to minimize distractions from noise (too much echoing may be a distraction)?


It could be the teachers, but it could be the environment also.


In the public school, are you able to network with involved parents so that your child can interact with their children? Also, it may be that the parents of that school are too busy with work and responsibilities to be able to involve themselves in school.


Both my parents worked minimum-wage hourly jobs while trying to raise 4 kids. They worked 6 days a week from 11a-10p everyday. It was hard for them to find the time to be involved with their type of work hours and the fact that they were paid hourly. Any missed workday meant that there was no income. They also had to worry about taking care of my grandparents who lived with us.


My involvement in my son's school life is entirely different from my experience growing up. I'm thankful that I have wonderful bosses who trust me to make my own schedule. When I volunteer at school or when I take my son to the state parks and museums, I make sure to have the day off by making sure that other employees are making things run smoothly at work.


I'm also thankful to be making a salary that is decent so that my husband can stay home and help with afterschooling and household responsibilities.


My parents may not have had the time to be involved in school but they loved us unconditionally and they cared. I was self-motivated enough to obtain an associates degree. I used to study in my parent's car because our small house was too noisy.


I also feel that my standards are very high when it comes to my son's education. He goes to a grade school that is not well funded. This is the reason why I'm afterschooling. I also make sure that he interacts with a group of homeschoolers, which is 1 hour away from us.

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There is a BIG difference between private and public school.

Many parents are not involved or try not to involve themselves in the ps system because , well its free education. They don't pay for it so its not a main priority. Its almost in a way a " You get what you pay for type of situation." Those who send their children to private school have more of a tendency to be involved because they are paying their hard earned money for their children to go. So its important that they perform. Not all parents will be involved mind you. I have noticed some parents just pay and send, but I've found that the parents at our little private school are VERY involved in one way or another.


On to the next thing, the private school you sent your son to sounds HUGE! That would be just way to much. Don't categorize all private schools like the one your son attended. It sounds to me like a place that is way to crowded with overworked teachers, especially if they are screaming at kids. Not at all a school I would want my child to attend.


My daughters attend a small Catholic school, with a total of 70 children from PreK4- to 8th grade. The 8th grade class consists of 4 girls. Anyways the classes are blended and the school encourages parental help always.

This little school has some of the best teachers I've ever encountered. They truely care about the children they teach and they want to see them succeed as much as the parents do. There is no one screaming at children. I find the smaller the school the better the teachers and the better the education.


As for public school teachers I feel bad for them. They are slaves to what is given to them. They no longer have the creativity to teach children anymore. They are slaves to teach children to take tests. They have no say over what curriculum they use in the school or how things are taught anymore. In the end if your not happy with the school , you have every right to chose another school.

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There were plenty of teachers in my son's school with maximum class sizes of no more than about 20 students. Even the "good" teachers did not grade work, especially if it involved writing, however....


We're working with a very talented gifted math teacher now (past two years). She does not grade work. She gives us blank stares whenever we try to suggest it. It's not taught in the teaching colleges and it's not done any more. Anywhere....

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My dc are in public school for the first time this year and your experience with the ps does not match mine - our school is more in line with how you describe the private school.


It's really making me nervous as we plan out move back to NC - the only schools that seem to be like the ones they attend here are in the expensive places to live.:tongue_smilie:

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Many parents are not involved or try not to involve themselves in the ps system because , well its free education. They don't pay for it so its not a main priority. Its almost in a way a " You get what you pay for type of situation."


Well, even in public school you get what you pay for. It's how yo pay for it that is different, i.e., real estate prices versus private school tuition. We could have moved to an area where we would have paid over a hundred thousand dollars less for the same house but the schools would not have been as good. Parents in our area schools are heavily involved, regardless of whether they are one income or dual income families, although the nature of their involvement may vary.

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Tracy R.


My son attended a St. Thomas Catholic school too and it is huge. It was a cash cow. There was a big issue with bullying and harassment of kids who were easy targets. Students could get away with it because there were no real consequences. The administrators wanted to keep the money coming in, so they didn't do much about it. They didn't want to get rid of any students. It was a very unchristian like environment. Very shocking. We had to move. I realized that there wasn't much teaching happening in the classroom that is why students were given so much homework. Every homework assignment was what was presented in class and would be on the test. So basically parents were responsible for reinforcing what was covered or not covered. And this information would be on the test. Study guides were also provided. This is how I became a home afterschooler. Homework assignments, lessons for the day, and tests were all graded and entered into the report card, so it was not difficult for your child to not do well unless you were not involved.


This was not a good environment for my son. He was exhausted and stressed out. Now we are at a public school where there are no issues with bullying, no yelling or screaming, but the teachers provide very little homework with no resources to reinforce what is going on in the class. The teachers were brushing me off when I ask about this, so I met with the principal to complain. Now I am seeing study guides here or there trickling in and actually a little bit of homework that is actually reinforcing some of the concepts he is learning in class. It seems like these teachers don't really care if the students get it or not. I feel like I am fighting a war here to make sure my child is getting a good education.


It would be great if I could have found a very small private school in my community, but with the building of mastered planned community it seems private schools are popping up with an interest in money and not concerned about providing a quality education. This is what I am up against. As for the public schools they are only interested in the students being able to pass the TAKS.

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It looks like neither private nor public school can provide a good education for your son.


If you are looking for recommendations, I would suggest you consider homeschooling. With homeschooling, you can invert the equation. You can spend all day "afterschooling", instead of trying to squeeze his real education into a few hours after school when he is already tired and ready to do other things.


You will be able to control the pace so he receives the educational benefits of the private school without the stress of an excessive workload or of the teachers' yelling.


Many of us came to homeschooling after trying to afterschool to make up for the deficiencies of the local schools.


Just something to consider...

Edited by plimsoll
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