Ask Abbie: How does one decide between public, private school?

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, December 11, 2012

By Abbie Long

Question: My husband and I don’t agree about our daughter staying in the public school system or if we should put her in a private school.

Her grades are suffering. She is having problems with a couple of mean kids picking on her and distracting her during class. The teacher is not disciplining students.

My husband resists private schools because he says they shelter kids from reality. I disagree.

How can we resolve our difference of opinions?

A concerned mom


Answer: Any conflict resolution process between parents will be ineffective and possibly harmful as long as differing opinions remain based on judgment rather than fact.

The first step will be to isolate the facts and issue a verdict. Until a judgment is made, you must protect your daughter from the storm of your trial.

When a child senses disagreement between mom and dad, she incorrectly assumes the problem to be her fault, a burden much too heavy for any child to bear.

At the appropriate time, you and your husband must communicate your decision to your daughter with combined confidence. If she doubts either of your beliefs, she will not proceed with unwavering determination.

Fact. Your daughter’s grades are suffering because she has become a product of her mismatched environment. To illustrate this cause-and-effect relationship, consider the following:

Rice is best grown in flooded fields while cactuses are best grown in areas with little water. Plant cactuses in a flooded field or rice in a desert for potentially life-threatening results.

Plant children in ill-appropriated learning environments for frustrating, non-productive and often harmful consequences. Unlike plants, which have no power over their environments and must become subjects there within, we as humans have the capability to alter our environment to better suit our needs or to re-locate to one more conducive to our growth.

Fact. Grades work in direct relationship with a student’s self-confidence. The lower the grades, the lower the confidence.

The higher the grades the higher the confidence. Because your daughter’s grades are lagging, her self-confidence is as well. Until her grades improve and her confidence follows, she requires extra nurturing and reinforcement within her educational environment.

You must help build your daughter’s confidence by selecting the environment in which her grades are likely to see positive results. Without confidence, a child is destined only to work a field not own it.

Fact. Private schools provide smaller class size with more one-on-one attention, making them an excellent option for students with poor grades or who need a unique approach to learning.

These students are not less smart than those who thrive within the public school environment; they are simply seeds of rice inappropriately planted in the middle of a desert.

Fact. If you decide to leave your daughter in public school, you must commit yourself to building a new and better suited environment around her. Start by hiring a tutor and taking your complaints regarding her teacher to a higher level.

In addition, submit your change-of-address form to the post office because you will need to live at the school until you get results. Prepare for a very slow and frustrating, yet not impossible task. Her future growth is in your hands.

Be alert. As your daughter’s grades improve, she may begin to reject too much sheltering and attention because she wants to prove herself to herself and to others. At this point, reassess her individual interests, strengths and passions to determine if a change to her current environment, or if a move to one better suited to her developing needs is in order.

As your daughter grows, make sure her roots have room to expand. If not, she will become root bound.

Fact. A decision to prioritize your daughter’s needs over those of your own is the right thing to do.

Render your verdict based upon the facts, not circumstantial evidence.

Abbie Long is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to