When we were looking for a house -- long before the girls were born -- I was big into making sure we lived in a good public school district. Some people think competitive private schools give their children an advantage in life. I've had people scoff at the idea of sending their children to the public schools -- and these people live in good school districts. They feel like private schools provide a better foundation.
Me? I think either you have it or you don't. I scored well on the college and graduate school entrance exams coming out of a middle-of-the-road high school. I went to two respected public universities -- the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois at Chicago. I've been invited to the White House for a women's health forum, published in highly-respected academic journals and quoted in major daily newspapers. Not bad for a lowly public school student.
Here's a study (from my alma mater, I might add) that backs up the theory that private schools aren't always better. U of I researchers found that public school students do better than private school students on standardized math tests. There are a lot of reasons for it, but the bottom line is private schools are not always better than public schools.
Suze Orman was recently on Oprah talking about how crazy it is that parents will mortgage their futures to send their children to private colleges. She said something to the effect of "I worked three jobs and went to the University of Illinois in Urbana. I received a great education. And now I'm much richer than my friends who went to private schools."
I realize that people have a choice in where to send their students and that's fine. In the end, though, I think in the end it all comes down to the student. Either you have the passion, motivation and desire to succeed (however you define success) or you don't. No amount of private school tuition can teach you to be successful. What I hope we do is help the girls find their passion in life so they are motivated to succeed because to me that's the most important measure of success.