Why one mom took her son out of private school and how she found a better solution in an Austin public school.
There is a notion that public schools are not equipped to provide personalized instruction or cater to individual needs because of the large, eclectic body of students they serve – including students with learning disabilities.
Below is a conversation with Heather, a mother who pulled her child out of private school and enrolled him in Austin ISD. Heather’s son was diagnosed with ADHD, and eventually, Auditory Processing Disorder (ADP). Heather recounts her personal experience of moving her child to public school. The result was a happy, thriving individual with intentions of running for student council president.
What was your child’s private school experience like?
Heather: We really enjoyed the community feel, seeing parents on a regular basis, and the Christian themes. However, it was a rigid environment that required hours of homework per night, starting when he was in kindergarten.
It also was not suitable for families where both parents work. Most of the required activities were geared toward moms during work hours.
What made you want to look for a different option?
Heather: At the end of second grade, we met with the grammar school principal. We asked him for guidance on how we can all help our son succeed with ADHD. The principal said that if the situation was that bad, they probably can’t help us. Basically, they wanted our son to succeed in their environment or leave.
My son’s third grade teacher knew very little about ADHD, and from what I could tell, most of her knowledge was based on misinformation. For example, she actually thought he didn’t need repetition because he had ADHD. That’s the exact opposite of what most ADHDers do need.
She also asked me if I could observe her class to help advise her on how to best teach my son! What?! We were halfway through our third semester and she was asking me how to educate my son.
In addition, my son had three to four hours of homework per night in the third grade. He developed anxiety, depression, and began to isolate himself socially. The poor kid was at a breaking point.
Also, we had just received new information that he had Auditory Processing Disorder and would continue to struggle in a didactic curriculum unless the school made significant accommodations – which they wouldn’t do.
To top if all off, we were paying hundreds of dollars per week, in addition to tuition, on learning specialists and psychologist visits just to help him just get through the day. We had just had it.
What was attractive about enrolling your child in public school?
Heather: After exploring other private school options, I decided upon a public school within Austin ISD. The principal was knowledgeable about ADHD and other learning differences, and she didn’t judge my son for it. They were able to accommodate him in an environment that didn’t single him out as “different.” They were able to offer services like speech therapy that we were paying for out of pocket in private school.
We also believed that going to school with his neighborhood friends, who he sees everyday anyway, and wearing his own clothes (not uniforms) would make him more comfortable.
Did you notice any performance or social improvements by switching your child to public school?
Heather: It was an incredible transformation. He’s a happy child who enjoys school and does his homework on his own, without prompting. His teachers said that he shows few signs of ADHD. According to his teachers, he doesn’t seem to have learning differences at all. He’s at the top of his class and wants to run for student council president. This was not the same child who was depressed and alone just a few months prior.
Is there anything else you would like to say to parents in a similar situation?
Heather: Public school is a fantastic option for any student with a learning difference. In private school, students are generally part of a small, uniform group, and kids who are different stick out. That makes them more self-conscious. Why not just move your kids to a place where they’ll feel more comfortable – and save money too?
Leaving private school for public when your child is struggling is not giving up or a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of courage and acknowledgement to the child that there’s nothing wrong with the child – just that private school wasn’t the best fit.
In an effort to highlight the ability of neighborhood public schools to educate special needs or disabled students, Raise Your Hand Texas wanted to find real examples of parents who have experienced public school alternatives, but then chose to enroll their child in public school. If you or someone you know fits this description, please contact us to share your story!