School variety meets needs of community

Published 11:34 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

Last week, the News-Herald reported on a drug sweep at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy that resulted in the arrest of one student.

The story generated dozens of comments on our Web site. The discussion quickly devolved from a commentary on the situation to a debate between supporters of public schools and supporters of private schools.

When I signed up for this career, I made an agreement to keep my opinion on stories I cover to myself; therefore, this column is not about the situation at NSA. It’s about the hopeless debate about whether public schools or private schools are better.

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I attended a very small private school from kindergarten through 12th grade. There were 17 in my graduating class, and 57 in the entire high school that year. It was so small, in fact, that it closed two years ago, because the tuition wasn’t enough to pay the bills.

I feel that I got a great education at my little school. I learned how to read, write and do all the necessary things in life. But more important, I learned about my religion, the difference between right and wrong, respect for others, respect for my country and numerous other values that it has become politically incorrect to teach the masses in public school.

However, small religious schools aren’t for everybody. That’s why there are numerous schooling options — public schools, religious schools, secular private schools and home schooling are some of the more popular options.

Throughout my life, I have known people from all four of the above-mentioned schooling backgrounds. Many of them are very intelligent, well rounded, and responsible — but some are not — and the ones who are not have not come predominantly from any one form of schooling.

The point is this: No method of schooling is inherently better than another. The value a student gets out of his education is equal to the effort he puts forth.

There are pros and cons to each type of school system. At a public school, students can choose from many different clubs, programs and opportunities that most private schools don’t have the means or demand to offer. Many private schools, however, can offer smaller class sizes and freedom from restrictive government mandates. Religious schools can supplement the family and the church in faith-based education. Home schooling offers the ultimate freedom to instruct one’s children in the manner a parent feels best.

There are different types of schools for the different needs of families and individual students. Once we all understand this, we can all get along better, can’t we?