Considering Private Education as an alternative to Public Schooling?
by Andrea Rose
Dec 27, 2022
For many families, a public school seems like the natural choice for a child’s education. But what if a public education isn’t the right fit?  Perhaps a private education is the way to go!

Doing the math:

According to the California Department of Education, there are 49 private schools (those with six or more students) in Kern County, and more than 470,000 students enrolled in private schools statewide.

While the CDE doesn’t have the authority to license, evaluate, recognize, approve or endorse any private school or course, nor does it oversee private school operations, the CDE does oversee aspects of some programs and services offered to private schools.

The CDE does require private schools to ensure their staff and faculty go through background checks, however private school teachers are not required to hold a state teaching credential.

Private schools may seek accreditation through an accrediting body—and that may be an important distinction when making a decision on a private education.

“Parents will want to make sure the school is accredited and should review the graduation requirements, courses offered and extra-curricular activities to ensure their student will have a great overall high school experience,” said Lou Ann Durrett, of Graces Memorial High School in Bakersfield. “Along with the coursework, parents should look at academic standards, graduation rates, student-teacher ratios, technology and college matriculation rates.”

Finding common denominators:

Families who search for private schools may notice some offer a particular focus such as faith or religion, while others may focus on the arts or science and technology.

For example, Graces is a Catholic high school, which brings faith to the forefront.

“We believe on focusing on more than just academics,” Durrett said. “We nurture the mind, body, and soul of our students while developing the whole child. As a private school, we can pray together and pray for each other.”

While a focus on faith may not be for every family, many private schools do try to encourage a sense of community within the school by encouraging parents to play a larger role in their child’s education than in public school.

“Private schools typically offer a safe learning environment with a high degree of parental involvement and a strong sense of community,” Durrett said. “Because private schools are usually smaller than public schools, there is more individualized attention from teachers and increased access to co-curricular opportunities.”

Summing up:

There are many factors to consider when choosing a private school.

If you’re thinking about a private school education for your child, here are some basic questions to ask:

•    Is there a waiting list?

•    What is the application process like? Is testing required?

•    What is the cost? Is financial aid available?

•    How far will you/your child have to travel? Does the

school offer transportation?

•    What is the class size and teacher-student ratio?

•    What grades does the school offer and will your child

need to find another school at any point?

•    What, if any, unique focus does the school have? Mili-

tary? Religion? College Prep? Arts?

•    How does the school handle extracurricular activities,

including sports/music?

•    What is the school’s discipline process?

•    How will the school communicate with parents?

•    What is the graduation rate (if appropriate)?

•    What is the curriculum like? (Foreign language, AP

courses, etc.?)

•    Are there parents of children in that school you can talk


Ultimately, it’s up to each parent to decide what makes a private school the right choice for their student.

“Parents should ask themselves is this school a good fit for their child,” Durrett suggested. “Parents should find a school where their child will grow and thrive and graduate ready for the next step in their lives. A private education requires sacrifice for many families, so parents should want to make sure that their child will get individualized attention when needed and opportunities for growth spiritually, academically and socially.”

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