“What school should I send my kids to?”
Translation for some: “Should I take out a second mortgage, move in with my in-laws and find a second job to pay for private school tuition?”
Parents — and potential parents, like me — have strong opinions about where they’re going to send their kids.
Most private school graduates will tout the benefits of their pricey education, pointing at smaller classrooms, more challenging curriculum, better facilities, more support and opportunities, and a strong network of alumni that will undoubtedly help their children well after they graduate from high school.
But talk to public school graduates — or survivors — and they’ll have different opinions about education. They’ll talk about an environment that fosters individuality and socialization, less pressure to keep up with uber-rich classmates, dedicated teachers, and the belief in the concept of, “You get out what you put in.”
There are no guarantees that a private school education will lead to a more successful person. And vice versa. Sure, I have friends who went to Punahou and Iolani and are now lawyers, doctors and business owners. But I know public school graduates who are those, too, and went from, say, Roosevelt High School to Ivy League schools.
So what’s the problem?
Tuition for Punahou, for example, is $18,450 for the 2011-2012 school year. That’s more than most colleges. And if you start paying that tuition for a child in Kindergarden and, assuming that tuition never goes up, you’ll pay $239,850 in just tuition by graduation. (Iolani’s tuition is $16,900.)
It’s more at boarding schools like Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island. Tuition for high school is $20,800 — it’s less for other grade levels — with an additional $41,200 for boarding costs.
Those costs add up.
But to be fair, most Hawaii’s independent schools charge less than $9,000 per year for tuition. But that’s still more than some folks can afford — and a public school education is the only option they have.
But when you do have an option, what do you do?
What would you do?