Opting for Private Elementary School: My Decision Over L.A. Public School

As one of the co-authors of a book aimed at parents seeking admission to private schools in Los Angeles and an active blogger on the same subject, it’s only natural for parents to wonder why I opted for private school education for my own kids. Coming from a background of attending public schools in the LAUSD system, with both my parents serving as LAUSD teachers, one might expect that I would continue the strong family tradition of advocating for and pursuing public school education. So, why did I deviate from this path when it was time to select a school for my daughter’s kindergarten education?

Private schools in Los Angeles

When the time came to search for a kindergarten for my daughter, I approached the process with an open mind. We resided in a Los Angeles neighborhood with a highly regarded public elementary school located merely three blocks away from our home. This school boasted exceptional student test scores and seemed like a viable option for my daughter. Our preschool director spoke highly of it, and I knew parents from outside the district who were eagerly seeking permits to enroll their children there. Nonetheless, I had reservations based on my own experiences in public school, including instances of bullying and overcrowding.

A fellow mom from our preschool and I arranged an appointment to meet the principal and tour the school. On the designated day, we arrived punctually, only to discover that the principal was unexpectedly “unavailable.” So, we patiently waited in the reception area, maintaining our polite composure. After approximately 20 minutes, the receptionist informed us that the principal wouldn’t be able to meet with us. We then inquired if a teacher could show us around the school. Fortunately, a kind-hearted kindergarten teacher agreed to give us a brief tour and later informed us that the principal was now ready to see us in her office. We introduced ourselves and took our seats, but the principal displayed disinterest and boredom during the conversation. When we asked about class sizes, lunch options, and homework policies, the principal dismissed our questions by waving her hands and almost shouting at us. To my surprise, she directed a pointed question solely at me, demanding to know if my daughter was “smart.” The same question was not posed to the other mother. In response, I simply stated, “I live in your district.” In other words, my child has a right to enroll here, regardless of her intelligence. I refused to dignify her question with a direct answer, finding it offensive. We then requested to observe a first-grade class, but the principal refused. As we prepared to leave, the kindergarten teacher discreetly told us, “Just be quiet, and I’ll show you the first-grade class.” We briefly peeked into the room and instantly understood why the principal didn’t want us to see it. It turned out to be a Korean-language immersion class, where none of the students spoke English in a school predominantly composed of Korean and Korean-American students. Coincidentally, the principal herself was of Korean descent. Could it be possible that she was subtly discouraging me from enrolling my daughter in the school?

A few months later, I visited the public school again during a community fair. Despite my efforts to appreciate it, the sheer number of nearly 1000 elementary students made me fear that my reserved daughter would get lost in the crowd. Additionally, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the principal’s abrasive personality. The mother who had toured the school with me decided to enroll her child there. Her perception of the school vastly differed from mine. Notably, the principal never questioned whether her white daughter was “smart.” That question was exclusively reserved for me, an African American mother.

Despite residing in a supposedly “good” public school district, my husband and I concluded that private school would offer the best option for our children. This decision set us on a grueling and highly competitive journey to secure a place for our daughter in a top-rated private elementary school in Los Angeles.

Ultimately, the choice between public and private school for your child is a deeply personal decision shaped by your own educational experiences, financial circumstances, and geographical location. In my case, I firmly believe that I made the right decision for my children. However, it’s important to acknowledge that private schools are not without flaws. Instances of bullying and elitism exist within them, and genuine diversity can be challenging to find in many private schools in Los Angeles. These institutions are not local neighborhood schools, so commuting can become tiresome. Nevertheless, the unique advantages our school provides my children include a close-knit community where everyone knows each other by name. They are inspired by a progressive educational philosophy and taught by exceptional teachers in a captivating urban campus that nurtures their creativity and imagination. Furthermore, the state-of-the-art technology program seamlessly integrates with the overall curriculum.

Ironically, one of my longtime friends happens to be a board member of the LAUSD. My husband and I took pride in supporting her first campaign and subsequent re-election efforts. I commend her for her unwavering dedication to the children within the LAUSD system. Despite our differing perspectives, we both understand that, as mothers, our ultimate goal is to secure the best possible education for our children, whether that means choosing a public or private school.

Christina Simon, the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles,” maintains a blog on the same subject, titled “Beyond the Brochure.” As a mother of an 8-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter attending The Willows Community School in Culver City, she has also had her work published on various platforms such as Salon.com, BlogHer Syndication, Mamapedia, The Mother Company, Offbeat Mama, Macaroni Kids, and others.

Hello, and welcome to my travel website! My name is Jennifer E. Sheahan, and I'm a passionate travel enthusiast who loves to explore new places and experience different cultures. I believe that travel is not just a way to escape from the daily grind, but also a way to learn and grow as a person.

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