Don't Be Naïve

Jay wants to know if he should send his six-year-old daughter to a public or private school. Dave says there are many factors that go into making this decision.

QUESTION: Jay on Twitter wants to know if he should send his six-year-old daughter to a public or private school. Dave says there are many factors that go into making this decision.

ANSWER: There are a lot of things that go into that discussion and into that consideration. There are three main reasons that people would choose a private school potentially over some public schools. One is better academics. Two is personal safety. Three is a religious environment that you like. You pay for that. In a private school, you are not going to get perfect children around your perfect child. I know intellectually you grasp that, but some of you are so naïve that you think if you put your kid in a Christian school, everybody’s going to be acting right over there. Honestly, that’s just stupid. What you have to do is compare the public school that you can make available to your child on those three bases to the private school, then decide if you’re getting any bang for your buck.

If you live in an area where the public schools are basically prisons for juvenile delinquents and you’re going to put your kid in the middle of that, you’re asking to end up with a pregnant drug addict before you’re done. You’re asking for it when you put your kids in that environment. It’s very hard to go into that environment. In other words, that’s a safety issue. Then the question becomes, can you move to a different neighborhood?

Are all private schools better than public schools in academics? Absolutely not. That’s absurd. I know plenty of private schools that are so poorly run I wouldn’t let my dog go over there for training. I know plenty of public schools that do a great job on academics. And the inverse is true, isn’t it? I know plenty of public schools that I wouldn’t let my dog go over there for training. The people don’t care, they’re not motivated teachers, they’re horrible, their scores coming out of the place are horrendous, but that’s not true of every public school.

Then you’ve got to think about the value systems and what you get for what you pay. In our case, we happen to live in the wealthiest county in our state, which has the best public school system in our state—literally one of the best in the nation in terms of scores. It’s a very Christian community. The teachers in the public school system, while they don’t break the law, are usually people we attend church with just because that’s how the community functions. Our public schools are probably more Christian than some Christian schools. I’m very comfortable with that. It’s not perfect; there are some politically correct morons in this county. Some of them are on the school board and in the administration. That’s not to say it’s something I can’t manage as the dad. So our three kids went to public schools. The scores were good, safety was fine, and the environment from a value system standpoint was fine.

You’ve got to look at all of those factors. There are just too many variables there. You’re wrong if you paint it with a broad brush.