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Letter from the Editor – Embracing ‘one size doesn’t fit all’


Hollywood, MD -
Someone in the office mentioned that National Catholic Schools Week is coming up toward the end of the month. As someone who spent most of my K through 12 education in Catholic schools—capped off by one very long, dramatic year under the scrutiny of Jesuit priests—I must confess I have mixed feelings about those times. Still, I look back on my experiences in both public and private schools as a good thing—a part of life’s journey. Environment is crucial to anyone’s quality of life, it can be a game-changer. Education is arguably the biggest of life’s stages that proves “one size does not fit all.” 

The web site Education Bug listed the pros and cons of public school vs private school. In making the case for private schools, the Bug points out that these institutes have smaller class sizes, focus on specific topics (most private schools for grades 9 to 12 strictly prepare students for college) and a challenging curriculum. On the down side, private education costs money and mom and dad still have to pay local taxes that fund public education. There is less choice in subjects (the array of electives public schools offer likely isn’t there), there is an entrance exam to pass in order to get accepted and, in most cases, there is heavy religious indoctrination (of course, with many people that is THE main reason for opting for a private school). 

Home-schooling is another option with its up and down sides. The web site publicschools.org points out that home-schooled children often excel in standardized testing, and enjoy much liberty and freedom due to a very flexible schedule. Home-schooled children can also be provided with a religious education that is unhindered by civil law and church protocol. Still, homeschooling has a ton of financial constraints, is time-consuming and provides limited access to sports.

No child asks to be born. Parents are charged with the responsibility of charting their child’s course, education-wise. Maybe the best road map is to have no road map at all.  “If your child says they hate school, listen to them,” wrote Jerry Mintz, director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization, in his essay “The 10 signs you need to find a different kind of education for your child.” (Advisory – Mintz is not very impressed with today’s public schools). Some of the other red flags Mintz lists include inability of the child to interact with those outside his or her peer group, complaints about conflicts at school, loss of interest in creative expression, homework procrastination and (you) being told by a school nurse or guidance counselor that your child needs a behavior-regulating drug.

Education is a challenge for everyone—student, parent, teacher and administrator. Finding the right size can be frustrating and many times the only option is to make it fit. By enduring the challenge everybody learns more about themselves than they do from all curriculum subjects combined. Have a safe journey!
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of TheBayNet.com’s management.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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