February 08, 2004
I am a recent convert to public school. I spent the last four years at a private school in Annapolis. Having gone to public school myself, I had become disillusioned by the limited resources, the lack of real open communication between student, teacher, parent and private school administrators and the rising cost of tuition for the status quo. I set about looking at public vs. private not only as a parent but as a consumer and a citizen. I spent all of last year visiting Rolling Knolls Elementary School (RKE), Bates Jr. High School (BJRH) and Annapolis High School (AH). This is what I found: 1.The resources at Annapolis area public schools, the arts, music, computer labs, extra curriculum activities, parent and teacher after school involvement with students are superior to the private school we were attending. 2. Even though test scores appeared dismal at first glance, I saw a huge difference between the two, private vs. public, for above average performing students in the public schools. They offered Gifted and Talented, accelerated math and English programs as early as 6th grade, AP classes in Algebra as early as 8th grade, small classroom sizes, enrichment programs (such as the Chessie Book Club at Rolling Knolls Elementary School) within the school day run by librarians, parent volunteers and general school staff and college prep and college credited courses at Annapolis High School. In the private school we were attending it asserts that the student body as a whole are accelerated therefore it didn't need to offer any programs outside the standard curriculum. Maybe? 3. As a citizen I saw the needs of every child sincerely and genuinely trying to be met at RKE, BJRH, AH. The diversity is truly a blessing for my children. They left an extremely homogenous environment and are thriving under that auspices of a true reflection of their own society not only now as children but as adults. 4. Yet the number one reason I was able to transfer schools with confidence and felt so strongly that I had made the right decision is because I had been able to experience first hand the teachers at Rolling Knolls Elementary School. My youngest was accepted into the Preschool program at RKE. I was overwhelmed by his teacher's intelligence, dedication, professionalism and talent. I was able to walk the halls and see for myself that she was not an anomaly but that the staff as a whole reflected her professionalism and dedication. These teachers take on a great challenge everyday. They do not have the luxury as the private schools do to filter out undesirable and hard to teach students. They also must attend to the needs of accelerated students while making sure that every child learns the basics. These teachers come to work each day friendly and ready to teach. My family is grateful for Rolling Knolls Elementary School.
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