My daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall. We live in Detroit, and aren’t really enamored of the Detroit Public Schools, but we do have a wide array of other schools we can choose from.
We’ve done some background research, and right now have two top candidates we’ll be looking at. We have not visited either school yet, so we don’t have a complete view of either - which leads to my question. I’d like some thoughts from you-all on what questions to ask, or what to look for, when we do visit so we have an accurate view of the pros and cons of each.
Our top two school are actually fairly different. One is a public school in a neighboring district. We know a woman (whose judgement I trust) whose kids have gone/are going to this school, and she thinks it’s great. The handful of online reviews I’ve seen bear this out. The school (and district) is very diverse, and they seem to have a solid, albeit traditional, program. However, class sizes are on the large side, and I’m a little worried that, since we’re from out of district, we’ll be sort of second-class citizens (for example, the district says that if students need to be moved to balance classes between elementary schools, out-of-district students get moved first).
The second school is a private school. Their class sizes are very small, and we know a couple parents who rave about the school (again, online reviews bear this out). Learning is very holistic, with emphasis on problem-solving and tying lessons to real-world experience. They also (at least in the lower grades) emphasize social relationships and how to work through differences between peers. It’s also diverse, although probably less so than the public school. The big downside is, of course, the cost. We can certainly afford it, but spending money here means less money for other things - like a college tuition fund, for example.
So, at this point, part of me says, “hey, I went through a public school that was no great shakes, and I wound up learning something. We shouldn’t be spending money just for the satisfaction of saying we did, when the more expensive option is of marginal utility. Sock money away into a college fund instead.” The other part of me says, “the private school is of more than marginal utility - I’ve seen how my daughter learns more quickly and has more fun (in preschool) with constant attention from a good teacher. She’ll get that in the private school. And even though I learned ‘something’ in grade school, it was a long time later that the real problem-solving lessons sank in.”
Again, I’m not necessarily looking for opinions on which is the better choice (although if you have a strong opinion, by all means please let me know). I’m more looking for opinions on what questions we should ask - or what we should look for - to get a strong sense of the trade-off between pros and cons.