During Finals week, I had an hour-long conversation with my friends at dinner. (When I should have been studying!) We were talking about religion mainly, as most of my friends were observing the conversation that was happening on my blog. My friends were all from a variety of religious backgrounds, and I was the only practicing Catholic at our table. I remember suggesting that sending your child to a religious school for their elementary years was immensely beneficial to the child, especially if you were raising your family in that faith. I used myself as an example because my Parents sent both myself and my brother to a parochial school a town over because the public school options were rather slim when I was 5. I suggested to my friends that what I learned in the house about morality was reinforced at school and what I learned about my faith at school was reinforced at home (and by going to Mass every week)
I didn’t realize that there are other reasons why a family might prefer a parochial education for their young children until I stumbled across an OP-ED column on the Boston Globe’s website last night/this morning. The author, who is a freelance writer living in Cambridge MA, needs to pick schools for his children for next school year. The Cambridge School district allows parents to choose 3 elementary schools out of the dozen in the city. If the child doesn’t get into those three, then what are the parents to do? A plan B for private schools usually comes with a $20,000 a year price tag, but the parochial schools offer education for less, sometimes a fourth of the cost of regular private schools.
There have been studies that determined that students in elementary parochial schools have a leg up on public school kids. Also students from economically disadvantaged areas/families tend to excel when they are in parochial schools. The benefits seem to go beyond just the (possible) religion reinforcement.
I don’t feel that my personal experience really falls into either of the above examples. While I know going to St. Anthony’s for seven years (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) was beneficial to my upbringing, I have trouble seeing how it was beneficial to my education. I seemed to grasp concepts quicker than my class and sat at top of my class all six years they kept track. (At the end of every year, I had the highest average) Looking back, I wasn’t very challenged at all. It was only when I tested into Boston Latin School for seventh grade that school became a (mostly fun) challenge for me.