Parenting & Family

Private Schools - Would you send your kid if you had the money?

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 8th, 2018 4:47 pm
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Nov 13, 2013
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woofster wrote:
Oct 6th, 2018 9:25 am
I've talked to numerous friends about these 2 options as well and the cost-benefit weighs on multiple factors.

For those who are already in a decent catchment, the cost to justify sending your kids to private school will likely be debatable. The decision will largely depend on the family's finances, i.e. our friends who fall in this category that still choose private school are generally well-off financially and aren't sacrificing too much elsewhere to make private school work for them.

I'd say maybe half of them who are already living in good school neighborhoods opt for the public school system while the other half choose the private route.

For those who are not in a great public school neighborhood, the debate between private school versus moving to a better neighborhood always comes up. Many of them have done the Excel calculations too to determine what the costs end up being for either options.

The biggest factor here is how much they can realize from their current property and how much more they would need to add to their current mortgage to make that move. It's a tough one as some friends have added at least $500k to their existing mortgage to do so while for others, that number would theoretically be in the $500k to $1M range to make that happen.

With a child's education being about 12 years from primary school to high school, private school certainly wins over moving if you only have 1 child. Once you have 2 kids at, say, $30k per year per child, it's almost equivalent to moving.

Then comes the subjective benefits of being able to live in a better neighborhood for at least 12 years, associating with that community and those community members...versus the subjective benefits of surrounding your kids with private school classmates, enabling them to make friends outside of your neighborhood and anticipating greater attention to your child's education via lower class ratios.
Your last point is important. There are a lot more reasons an area is nice than just the quality of the schools. Also Private schools are usually located in these better neighbourhoods. Your kid living in a poor area and having to commute to private school will be at a social disadvantage. Not to mention the time they will lose commuting they could be studying or playing or doing something else productive.
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Jul 21, 2013
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Toronto
fogetmylogin wrote:
Oct 21st, 2018 7:01 am
Your kid living in a poor area and having to commute to private school will be at a social disadvantage.
As a child who had a long commute from a middle class suburb to a private school I can confirm this is a very big issue. I was completely isolated from the friends I made at the private high school and hung on to my local friends. I didn’t really socialize with my high school friends outside of school until the end of high school, when I got my license .

Commute times should definitely be considered when looking at schools.
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Feb 27, 2011
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We just made the switch from public to private last month, and have noticed a big difference in the overall learning infrastructure provided to our son. Granted the quality of teachers and physical facilities probably hasn't gone up much, and his class size isn't any smaller than it would be in the public system, but the similarities stop there.

Our private school is significantly more proactive in ensuring my son (who has a minor learning disability) has his educational needs met. For example, at the public school, the administration waited until early November before creating an individual education plan (IEP) for him (a mandatory step), and then only after I had essentially nagged the Vice Principal for two months. At our current private school, we were contacted proactively in August about my son's IEP, and the plan document was in place by the second week of school.

Another difference, which seems minor on the surface, is the increase in overall supervision children receive (at our private school). Our son was the subject of bullying at his public school, especially during recess. While his teacher and VP were aware, and took the matter (mostly) seriously, my wife and I were shocked at the school board/union limitations they faced in actually addressing the issue. No such limitations at private school, and hence our son is MUCH happier going to school every day now.

The school we chose is not among the priciest options in the city, so it might be a different discussion at $25k+ per year. But overall, the tuition we pay, and inconvenience we face in a slightly longer commute (15 min each way), has been well worth it when we see our son doing so much better holistically.
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lestat83 wrote:
Oct 21st, 2018 10:44 am
As a child who had a long commute from a middle class suburb to a private school I can confirm this is a very big issue. I was completely isolated from the friends I made at the private high school and hung on to my local friends. I didn’t really socialize with my high school friends outside of school until the end of high school, when I got my license .

Commute times should definitely be considered when looking at schools.
Not only that, all the rich kids would come back from summer vacation talking about their nice family trip to a European villa or Aspen Colorado ski trip while you just hung around the local parking lot.
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at1212b wrote:
Oct 21st, 2018 7:39 pm
Not only that, all the rich kids would come back from summer vacation talking about their nice family trip to a European villa or Aspen Colorado ski trip while you just hung around the local parking lot.
Lots of kids from upper middle class (as opposed to super wealthy) families at private schools. Not to say that there aren’t also the super wealthy, but they’re not 100% of the population.
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Jul 21, 2013
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costaguana wrote:
Oct 21st, 2018 1:33 pm
Our private school is significantly more proactive in ensuring my son (who has a minor learning disability) has his educational needs met. For example, at the public school, the administration waited until early November before creating an individual education plan (IEP) for him (a mandatory step), and then only after I had essentially nagged the Vice Principal for two months. At our current private school, we were contacted proactively in August about my son's IEP, and the plan document was in place by the second week of school.
As a former private school kid, the biggest advantage I saw was the above. Private schools do make a big difference for children with minor learning disabilities, they have the resources and the time to bring the most out of the child and then set them down a path that will allow them to work towards their strengths. My private school was very good at identifying children who were not suited to college or academia and getting them interested in trades, many of these kids have gone on to have more successful careers than their college-bound friends.
costaguana wrote:
Oct 21st, 2018 1:33 pm
Another difference, which seems minor on the surface, is the increase in overall supervision children receive (at our private school). Our son was the subject of bullying at his public school, especially during recess. While his teacher and VP were aware, and took the matter (mostly) seriously, my wife and I were shocked at the school board/union limitations they faced in actually addressing the issue. No such limitations at private school, and hence our son is MUCH happier going to school every day now.
This wasn't the case in my situation, private school bullying is just a little different, its normally in form of omission. If your parents don't live in the right neighbourhood or don't have the desired house, some kids simply won't bother spending any time with you outside of school. It's very hard for well-intentioned teachers to address this. Ultimately, children ended up socializing with the children from similar economic backgrounds within their private school class.
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I teach at a University and see no difference in aptitude or ability from private school students vs the rest. I also don't think Canada is like the UK with the class system that's still in place for various careers so if you're spending megabucks here for your kids education it better come with some other decent perks otherwise I really don't see the point.
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JC69 wrote:
Oct 30th, 2018 2:49 pm
I teach at a University and see no difference in aptitude or ability from private school students vs the rest. I also don't think Canada is like the UK with the class system that's still in place for various careers so if you're spending megabucks here for your kids education it better come with some other decent perks otherwise I really don't see the point.
Well, there could be some survivorship bias in your sample.
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Mar 23, 2009
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My son is in junior kindergarten now and my daughter is in grade 1. We are very pleased with our public school.

However, it's an unusual one, in that it's a small school in a low density area with small class sizes and a very decent student to teacher ratio. It is also rated in the top 15%. The school admin also says they have a big problem with parents from other neighbourhoods close by trying to fake their way into this school, which I guess is a testament to the school's reputation. (We live in a middle class neighbourhood, but are bordered by lower income neighbourhoods.) Also, many of the other parents are extremely engaged, much more so than I might have expected.

In addition, since all the kids live in the same catchment area, they maintain contact and friendships outside of school too.

Thus, we will stick with this public school. My kids are happy and have no special needs, so I don't think it's worth it to go with a private school, esp. considering the mixed experiences my colleagues have had with some of the private schools. As mentioned earlier in the thread, the quality of public schools really ranges, and the quality of private schools also really ranges (even when they cost $20000+ per year), so each has to be evaluated individually.
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KennyX wrote:
Oct 31st, 2018 8:39 am
Well, there could be some survivorship bias in your sample.
There could I guess, but all things being equal the sample set of several thousand students I can compare with tells me there's no real academic advantage when it comes to post-secondary testing. Socioeconomically there may be slightly more private school kids in a particular class but that's more demographically based than academically based once I see exam results. Is there a networking advantage? Possibly, but then again who the heck networks as a high school student? There's likely infrastructure advantages and perhaps extra-curricular advantages, and bragging rights to other parents maybe. It depends on if those things are important to you. I don't see too much evidence of the students themselves bragging about which school they went to as they seem to realise university is the great leveller. Private schools in the UK used to be a fast track to the financial industry through "the old boys network" but again, that network doesn't really exist here.
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EugW wrote:
Oct 31st, 2018 11:01 am
My son is in junior kindergarten now and my daughter is in grade 1. We are very pleased with our public school.

However, it's an unusual one, in that it's a small school in a low density area with small class sizes and a very decent student to teacher ratio. It is also rated in the top 15%. The school admin also says they have a big problem with parents from other neighbourhoods close by trying to fake their way into this school, which I guess is a testament to the school's reputation. (We live in a middle class neighbourhood, but are bordered by lower income neighbourhoods.) Also, many of the other parents are extremely engaged, much more so than I might have expected.

In addition, since all the kids live in the same catchment area, they maintain contact and friendships outside of school too.

Thus, we will stick with this public school. My kids are happy and have no special needs, so I don't think it's worth it to go with a private school, esp. considering the mixed experiences my colleagues have had with some of the private schools. As mentioned earlier in the thread, the quality of public schools really ranges, and the quality of private schools also really ranges (even when they cost $20000+ per year), so each has to be evaluated individually.
Sounds like you still need to keep an eye on quality of school. A change of admin at the school due to retirement/job hopping can easily lead to kids from low income areas coming into the school, if the new admin is not diligent in weeding out the fakes.
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JC69 wrote:
Oct 31st, 2018 2:57 pm
There could I guess, but all things being equal the sample set of several thousand students I can compare with tells me there's no real academic advantage when it comes to post-secondary testing. Socioeconomically there may be slightly more private school kids in a particular class but that's more demographically based than academically based once I see exam results. Is there a networking advantage? Possibly, but then again who the heck networks as a high school student? There's likely infrastructure advantages and perhaps extra-curricular advantages, and bragging rights to other parents maybe. It depends on if those things are important to you. I don't see too much evidence of the students themselves bragging about which school they went to as they seem to realise university is the great leveller. Private schools in the UK used to be a fast track to the financial industry through "the old boys network" but again, that network doesn't really exist here.
If you actually see more private school kids than public school kids in a particular class, the private school system would be producing much, much better outcome than the public system, given that most kids go to public schools, at least in Canada.
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Oct 17, 2002
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JC69 wrote:
Oct 31st, 2018 2:57 pm
There could I guess, but all things being equal the sample set of several thousand students I can compare with tells me there's no real academic advantage when it comes to post-secondary testing. Socioeconomically there may be slightly more private school kids in a particular class but that's more demographically based than academically based once I see exam results. Is there a networking advantage? Possibly, but then again who the heck networks as a high school student? There's likely infrastructure advantages and perhaps extra-curricular advantages, and bragging rights to other parents maybe. It depends on if those things are important to you. I don't see too much evidence of the students themselves bragging about which school they went to as they seem to realise university is the great leveller. Private schools in the UK used to be a fast track to the financial industry through "the old boys network" but again, that network doesn't really exist here.
I wonder how many students you have from public/non-private secondary schools you have that have come from poorer areas (i.e., those areas/catchments with low school rankings)?
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BlueSolstice wrote:
Oct 31st, 2018 3:02 pm
If you actually see more private school kids than public school kids in a particular class, the private school system would be producing much, much better outcome than the public system, given that most kids go to public schools, at least in Canada.
Like I said, there’s a demographics issue too. Not necessarily better outcomes for entrance and definitely not better outcomes for course results once here.
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As I’ve said on these forums before:

We think its worth it. At first we debated. On the one hand, we thought we'd buy a house based on public school rankings, thinking that a great public school would be just as good as private school. We could then use that "saved" money to enrich their lives in other ways.

We also worried about the kids growing up pretentious and at the same time feeling like they need to "keep up" with the really rich kids.

But then we thought that idea of "saved" money was a little optimistic. Most of it wouldn't be saved. Plus:
-the resources at some of these private schools are phenomenal (swimming during the regular school day, robotics club etc.);
-you don't have to worry about strikes every few years;
-there seem to be greater opportunities for making lifelong friendships;
-school will not be their only environment. We will be taking them to a place of worship regularly and they will also be encouraged/expected to volunteer regularly. My wife and I are pretty grounded (then again, who doesn't think of themselves that way?!), so I'm pretty sure they will be too;
-lots of opportunity for travel, which we think is enriching;
-I think being surrounded by other children of like minded parents is conducive to learning;
-at the end of the day, the idea is to give them options and I think going to good private schools gives those to them - including a greater chance of going to an Ivy League post secondary institution if they choose.

I also wouldn’t discount the networking factor. I see LOTS of UCC and Crescent guys still connected and in touch decades after having graduated.

Is sending our kids to private schools the end all be all? No, of course not. Neither is putting them in sports, or arts camps, or robotics camps, or travelling, or doing all of the other things that we do with them. They’re all just factors that contribute to their overall makeup. Some will lead directly to better academic outcomes and some won’t, but will still enrich their lives.

Neither my wife or went to private school and we've done ok, but I want more for our children. Would we like the $60k+ per year to spend on other things? Sure, but we're fortunate that we even have this choice and if it means only going on one nice vacation a year or not always having the latest model European SUVs in our driveway, we can live with that. Why wouldn’t we give them every advantage we reasonably can?

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