The schools in this neighborhood that are decent are generally magnet schools and admission is via lottery, commonly referred to as Choice. You submit an application with your top three schools and then, based on where you live, if you already have a sibling at the the school, etc, you are assigned a priority. If you are lucky you get into your chosen school. Realistically the 'good' schools are oversubscribed, there are many siblings, and you are probably not going to get into your 'first' choice. So instead of going through this choice process, we chose (haha, play on words there, did you catch it?) to go private. Shock, horror, I know...wah-wuh.
Here is why:
1. Our local school is a failing school, chronically under attended due to the gentrification of the neighborhood and the choice program. Apparently people don't choose the failing schools when given a choice (news flash!). A few parents are doing their best to resurrect the school, but I am not willing to let my kids be an experiment.
2. The 'choice' that we would have made for our child is not going to happen. When we did the tour the principal basically told us we had a snowball's chance in Hell of getting in (real nice). And its not even that great of a school - I mean it scored just one point higher than our failing local school! Don't get me wrong, we wanted to be able to walk to school, we wanted our kids to be bilingual. I want to be a public school believer (full disclosure - both myself and my husband were privately educated)! We toured all the local schools, gave it fair consideration, and at the end of the day we knew our child would not thrive in any of the local public schools.
3. Denver schools, well Colorado schools as a whole, are grossly, disgustingly underfunded. I believe we are in the last 5 states for school funding (See this CPR story). Class sizes are too big, resources too small, etc, etc. A recipe for disaster. We are also not interested in being part of this disaster.
4. Our son is an introvert, he does not like new people, places, he is not a fan of parties, chaos, etc. I knew early on that Montessori was going to be our best option. When I went to the local public Montessori schools, I knew the class sizes would overwhelm him and he would fade into the background. The school we finally chose had small class sizes and a loving, nurturing environment. I knew he would not be forgotten in his class and I knew that he would be able to choose when to be social and when he wanted to be alone.
5. We send our child to Catholic school. We are not paying the big bucks for the other private schools in the Denver area. We chose a school that would nurture our child. This school has some of the highest test scores in the state. You don't have to pay a lot of money to get a good education. The parents drive the fundraising which brings in the money to have the resources and high quality teachers. Its all about the community and unifying towards a common cause.
There is no right or wrong school. I believe the most important thing is to know your child, and to then choose the best school for them from the choices you realistically have available to you. We cannot all pay for private school, and private school isn't always the best choice. it is a struggle for us, but we believe it is the right choice for our child. It is a shame that we as taxpayers do not deem our schools to be worthy of our money, while we complain that our schools are underfunded. Where do people think the money to run this free service we expect the government to provide comes from? We compare our schools to schools around the world, but again, generally, they fund their schools through higher taxes than we, as Americans, are willing to pay. Until we are willing to fund our schools, we will continue to be outperformed by schools around the world.