Getting Schooled – The Introduction

Image: Flickr: final exam, by dcjohn, cc by 2.0

Last week I was on the twitters and I found myself bemoaning the abundance of people sending their kids anywhere other than public schools.

I am a public school teacher, after all. And I work in a district that is constantly stereotyped as less than the best because of the kids who go there. I mean, they are not all white kids from affluent families so we must be a “ghetto” school, right?  It makes me mad when I hear people say that about us…and it makes me sad when I hear our students say that about their own school.

Is this what is happening across the country? Are public schools being mistakenly black-balled by parents out of misconception? Or is my district an exception to the rule? Are good public schools really that hard to come by in some areas?

My little comment on twitter led to an all-out (almost hour-long) discussion about where people send their kids and why. I even took it to Facebook to see what people there thought.

In fact, I got so many people in on this discussion, I did a survey.

Along with the survey results and the discussions, I realized that educating our children isn’t just a hot topic, it’s one parents are super passionate about. Not one person I talked to took the decision lightly…even those who live in areas with lots of options — all seemingly really, really good options.

So instead of just doing a quicky post here on education, I am giving you a series. This is what you are in for:

  • The Intro:  Survey Results
  • Part I: Private Schools
  • Part II: Charter Schools
  • Part III: Homeschooling
  • Part IV: Public Schools and common misconceptions

Before I dive into all the interviews and facts about they types of schooling choices out there, let me disclose the results of my survey.

For most questions, respondents could check more than one option.

The type of education used (or will use):
72% public schools
15% religiously based private school
12% homeschool
9% a specialty or magnet school within the public schools
7% charter school
8% other

56% of those surveyed would consider different schooling for each of their children depending on the needs of the child.
43% say all their children will go to whatever education option that is chosen.

Regardless of their schooling choice, this is what those polled believe about their home public school district:
58% has great teachers
51% has high parental involvement
42% has a high graduation rate
42% has quality facilities
37% is affluent and well-funded

Factors parents considered when choosing a schooling option for their child(ren):
66% said the individual needs of their student
58% considered convenience (travel time, busing, etc)
54% needed to be able to be involved in the schooling
52% looked at the quality of the teaching staff
46% chose class size
43% looked at the status/reputation of the school

81% of those surveyed get their information about educational options for their children by word of mouth
64% get their info from the internet (like school web sites)
58% tour facilities
58% meeting with administration/staff

The single most important thing that matters in their children’s education is the quality of the teachers with 40% reporting.
Real world learning came in next at 13%.

Indisputably, the two things people chose as the single biggest problem with public schools are inadequate funding (52%) and too much emphasis on testing (52%).
Classroom size (29%) and not enough parental involvement (28%) came in next.

93% of those surveyed are women.

66% of those surveyed already have kids in school.

In the next installment, I will dig into the 15% who send their children to private schools.  I’ll discuss the types (religious and non) and reasons why it might be a good option for some kids.

Where do you fall in these statistics?  What are your feelings about all of the schooling options?


  1. I wonder how many worry about things like bullying, ideological or political viewpoints being pressed on kids, etc. I know that my husband wants our children homeschooled for one reason. While we have fought for gay-rights in the past, we do not want our children being taught some of the faulty statistics and stories that we see public schools teaching, not all of which being related to gays (Abe Lincoln was gay… gay penguins and other animals being misleadingly pushed without any teaching about why these behaviors happen and why it’s not applicable to human beings… it’s fine to be sexually active at 17… etc.) Oh sure, in a survey like you gave we’d pick something else. We don’t want to be labeled bigots, backwards, or anything like that. But we’ve run into many families who admit that these things were the starter for the choice. That if the schools would simply focus on education and not on trying to make people who will be ‘socially responsible citizens’ then they wouldn’t have ever thought of keeping their kids from public school.

  2. This post is really useful to everyone. I love the idea on how to promote education to everyone. thanks for sharing this post.

  3. Great stuff! Can’t wait to read more!

  4. Katie, I’m looking forward to this series. The survey results definitely reflect what I feel. I’m especially looking forward to the next installment on private schools. I switched my children from public to private school for various reasons!

  5. I am 95 percent sure we will use public schools. But, we may be school of choicing. Well I’m 95 percent sure we will be school of choicign within our given district, we may school of choice out of it for kindergarten at least. I am also a public school teacher, but I want what is best for my child, not what is best for my profession.

  6. Fran Krebser says

    Great articles! Quite relevant and timely. Hope I can get this publication on a regular basis!


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