Why I’m Considering Private School

EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite record growth for the city of Huntsville in the past decade, the public school enrollment levels are static largely due to parents choosing alternative options. For the next couple of weeks, some of those parents will share their stories and advice for those considering making a change.
I’m one of those people. You know the people I’m talking about. The ones who just look plain tired when you bring up the current state of the Huntsville City School system. The ones who have pretty much given up. The ones so desperate to create a good educational foundation for their children that they are willing to give up vacations and dinners out and drive 15-year-old minivans in order to afford private school. The ones lucky enough that if they make those sacrifices, they can afford private school.

I am one of those people. My daughter is only three but we are zoned for Providence and I have literally heard NOTHING good about that school. This fall she’ll be attending a preschool that has students up through 8th grade. If things don’t get better, we might just stay.

Here’s why I want to:
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  • I have worked at two very different independent schools as both a teacher and administrator and had wonderful experiences at both. The faculty and administration worked in partnership with each other for the better success of each individual student.
  • Independent schools are by their very nature intentional communities. All parents (and children) are at least somewhat invested in the success of the school, which is integral to the success of any school.
  • Student Teacher Ratios are significantly lower at independent schools.
  • There is no concern about schools “teaching to the test” as there is no “test” to teach to.
  • Teachers have much more freedom to develop curriculum and thus to use teaching methods that are geared towards student’s strengths (and weaknesses).
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Here’s why I don’t want to:
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  • There is a dearth of diversity in private schools nationwide but especially in the south. Many private schools in the south were created during the decades of desegregation and a combination of that history with still very real economic inequalities among races has led to schools with abhorrent diversity statistics (see below).
  • It costs a lot.
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Local School Directory.com
Whitesburg Academy-95% White
Randolph – 93% White
Westminster Christian – 93% White
Catholic High School – 89% White
Grace Lutheran – 89% White

That’s about it. The truth is, that first one (no diversity) is a very important one to us. My husband and I want our daughter to be able to function in the real world and that world isn’t white. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly less so. Plus, one of our absolute favorite things about living in Huntsville has been the fact that our daughter’s playgroup is actually diverse. There are as many non-White children in the group as there are White. Her current world is color-blind. That matters to us and to send her to what is basically an all-White school feels like failure.

So we’re still debating and we’ve got some time. We cross our fingers and hope some real change will come to HCS. We also talk about moving to Madison. I guess for now we’re hoping for a miracle.

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