Private and alternative schools
There is no doubt — private schooling is a big commitment — and a liberating and exciting one. You make and support the choices about your children’s education. You become the decision maker who shapes your children’s future!
Here we provide ways to find private schools, ideas for creative alternatives, and thoughts on financing your children’s education.
Find a Private School
National Center for Education Statistics. Search for private schools on this useful database. Very good listing — many ways to search, provides stats such as grade levels of schools, student population, contact info for schools. Some info is not up-to-date (i.e., schools that have added grades are still reported at old level). Lots of other useful info on this site.
CAPE – Council for American Private Education. Find schools and information about them. Good source for the benefits of private education. Also has stats and facts about private education.
Association of Christian Schools International. Find schools and information about them.
Other Ways to Find Private Schools. Not all private schools are listed with organizations or on web sites. Ask around at local churches, public libraries, your chamber of commerce. Check your Yellow Pages, pay attention to signs outside churches, ask friends (it’s amazing what your friends often know and don’t think to tell you).
Alternative School Options
Alternatives. Not all private education has to be in a school building. You can choose on-line courses or independent learning for either all or part of your children’s education. You can pool your resources with several other families to hire a teacher or tutor (or even just someone to oversee work you provide for your child). You can also use outside resources to enrich your child’s private education. Check out Cathy Duffy’s lists of online schools and courses for some possibilities.
The Alternative Education Resources Organization. Find alternative, private schools and information about alternative schooling.
Financing Private Schooling
Creative Ways to Afford Private School
The first step toward affording the schooling you want for your children is commitment. Once you decide it’s a priority, you can get down to the business of raising the funds you’ll need. Here are some ideas to help you along that path.
- First, don’t limit yourself to only one way of paying for school. Make a list of many options and use as many as necessary.
- Let’s start simply. Pennies add up. Start a school piggy bank — a big jar somewhere in your house where everyone can throw in money for education. Keep it where guests and relatives can contribute, too.
- See if your chosen school will allow you to trade — some teaching, a talent or skill you have — for part of your tuition.
- If you can fix things, see if your school will allow you to trade work for tuition.
- Ask grandparents and other relatives to contribute to tuition for holidays (maybe part tuition and a smaller fun gift).
- Cut back everywhere you can — eat out less, buy a used car, live in a smaller house. Your child’s education and well-being are far more important than nice things.
- Encourage older children to help finance the schooling of younger siblings.
- Make summer time into a fun family fundraising project. Do car washes or bake sales, or go door-to-door selling something. Other ideas: cut grass, babysit, take a paper route, walk or care for pets, do chores for neighbors, clean houses or offices, use your imagination!
- Consider part-time private and part-time home schooling.
- Consider homeschooling for one year to save up money for private schooling.
- Ask a grandparent to finance your children’s education on a loan basis — or a trade basis (you or your children work in exchange for the money).
- Sell some stuff you don’t need or that’s not as important as your children’s education.
- Take an extra job.
- Sit down and brainstorm as a family (and even invite grandparents to the session). Have everyone come up with ways to save and to raise money. Not only will it be fruitful, it will be educational.
Can’t Afford Private School?
by Tammy Drennan
Let me tell you a true story. I’m the oldest of eleven children. My parents became convinced, when I was around 13, that they should send us to Christian schools. It was a little hit and miss until they took the plunge to full commitment. First, they sent me — in seventh grade — but all the other kids went to public school. I went back to PS for eighth and ninth grades, then back to Christian school for tenth. It was like that for the other older kids, too. Then my parents got serious — no more public school.
My youngest five siblings went exclusively to Christian schools and four of the oldest kids went exclusively for their high school years. It wasn’t easy. My father had been struck by an aggressive rheumatoid arthritis that quickly crippled him, left him in constant chronic pain, and sometimes prevented him from working (he was a painting contractor). There was no medical insurance, resulting in plenty of extra bills — besides the day-to-day expenses of feeding, clothing and housing eleven kids. There were times we literally did not know where our next meal was coming from. We lost a home to medical bills and occasionally lived in some pretty unconventional situations.
But the commitment was made. Much of the time, my parents were behind on their school bills. They often paid off one year’s bill just as the next year was about to begin. My father bargained with schools, sometimes trading work for tuition. My mother mended clothes, baked her own bread when it was cheaper to do so, sacrificed wherever possible. One year, when no way could be found, my parents kept the kids out of school. It was a long, hard struggle — but one they would not compromise on.
May I suggest that few people today face the challenges my parents did. Even with severe health problems, no insurance, eleven kids to provide for, and one setback after another, they found a way. Their children’s schooling was more important to them than an endless list of other things they could have done with their money. We didn’t eat out, rarely went on vacation, drove old cars, and made our fun instead of buying it. We didn’t go to the movies or buy name brand clothes. We wore hand-me-downs, homemade clothes, mended clothes — always clean and neat but never expensive.
We never felt deprived — how could we when our parents were so dedicated to our education and our future, when we saw them do without so we would have something far more important than the latest fad in possessions?
Do you know what kind of example this set for us? What it said about how much our parents valued and respected us as human beings? They made sacrifices and required some sacrifice from us, too. They let us know that they believed we were mature enough and principled enough to recognize the value of sacrificing material goods for a better cause. We matured in the critical areas of commitment and principle because we saw those character traits exhibited every day.
A commitment to liberty in education impacts much more than your child’s current academic achievement and spiritual, emotional, and moral maturity. It sends an eternal message to your child that you put your child above all possessions and comfort, that you will stand for what is right regardless of the sacrifice, that principled action is a choice, and that when the going gets tough, you dig in your heels and find a way to do what is right. It shows your child, above all, that principles are not just for the easy times. What better way to pass on to your child the gifts of perseverance and dedication?
Take the leap and don’t look back.
Children’s Scholarship Fund. 180,000 children from low-income families have received private school scholarships worth $837 million. Demand for this service is much higher than the ability to help. This is a worthwhile organization to support.