The Great Debate

In the January/February 2013 issue on stands now, Nicole Jantze goes where other parents fear to tread—smack dab in the middle of the public versus private school debate.  During her personal quest, she discovered the real priorities behind our perceptions and developed this expert guide to go from undecided to unshakable in time for school-choice deadlines.

  1. Make a list.  Write down your priorities: values, goals, your own “best” and “worst” school memories and the experiences you want your child to have.
  2. Look forward.  Consider your long-term education goals, not just the immediate needs.  What kind of person do you want your child to become?  What college prospects do you want him/her to have?
  3. Get selective.  Choose schools with a proven track record in the priorities you’ve listed.  Talk to parents.  Visit the schools’ websites.  Be sure to ask about class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios.
  4. Go visiting.  Spend time at each school.  Talk to teachers.  Sit in during a class.  Talk to parents and students.  And by all means, take your child with you.
  5. Dig the digits.  Obtain the school’s test scores and other stats online at Privateschoolreview.com, Greatschools.org, Schooldigger.com and the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools System website.
  6. Certify it.  Ask what accreditations, awards and recognitions the school has received from outside agencies.  Validate the outside agencies.
  7. Set the standards.  Find out what type of curriculum and assessment model the school uses.  How were they chosen?
  8. Check the tech.  Ask what the school is doing to integrate technology into the learning environment.
  9. Grade the teachers.  How many years have they taught?  How many have advanced degrees?  What certifications do they have?
  10. Review your peers.  Find out how involved parents are in the school—and get honest with yourself about how much you can contribute.

Pictured: Greta Schroeder of Charles Ellis Montessori Academy and Sophia Carnahan of Savannah Country Day School get on the bus. 

For the whole story, pick up a copy of Savannah magazine on newsstands today or subscribe now.The 
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