Outside Placements: Pros and Cons

30 May

I think private school placements are right for some children, however they are not necessary for others.  In our situation, the school district had a language-based classroom that fit most of our son’s needs.  It was not a perfect match for him (his area of disability is mostly with the written language), but it fit his needs well enough that we did not feel that he needed to be bused a long distance to a private school.

When making this decision for your child, I would consider the following:

  1. Your child’s disability (severity, chances for success, etc.)
  2. Local public and private schools and their reputation for success 
  3. What programs your district offers (can they meet the needs of your child)
  4. Transportation (length of commute, will you have to provide it)
  5. Your child’s preferences/social network (do they want to go, do they have many developed friendships)
  6. Your ability to be a part of a private school community (setting up playdates, attending after-school events, etc.)

Private schools for special education students are very appealing to many parents.  After years of the public schools trying to force my “square peg” into their “round hole,” I considered a private school placement for my son.  After researching our options and weighing the pros and cons, I came to the decision that I wanted to try to get what my son needed in our public school.  Here is what I considered when making this decision:

  • Many private schools have great reputations and hold a lot of promise and offer hope for our children.  It is very easy to forget that these schools depend on our money, or our school district’s money, to operate.  They hire advertising and publicity firms to help them attract parents.  They spend a lot of money on brochures and websites designed to show them in the most positive light.  Public schools can not do this.  They must operate in the reality of state testing scores, per pupil spending amounts, and town tax dollars.
  • This is not to say that there are not wonderful things happening at private schools across our country.  There are!  Without some of the educational and instructional innovations of private schools, our public schools may look as they did 20 years ago.  Public schools have been forced to change, due in large part to SPED parents wanting alternatives for their children.  Many public school districts are offering programs that were once only available at private schools.
  • I wanted my son to be a member of our community in the same way our older child is.  If he were to be bused to a private school, he would not have that experience.  He would of started and ended each school day with a commute on a van.  I felt our child was too young to experience the delight of morning traffic.  He needs a peaceful morning routine to get his day off to the right start.
  • I thought about what would happen if the public school decided he didn’t need the private program anymore.  Would my son be able to successfully rejoin his peers at the public school after being at a private school?

Before asking, and fighting, for a private school placement for your child, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully.  Again, get the information you will need to make the correct decision for your child.

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