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Private Schools vs. Public Schools


Patricia Orozco and Virgilio Anguiano had careers in Mexicali when they met and decided to come to the United States to start a new life, learn English, and take classes at Imperial Valley College to get a diploma and add more education for themselves. 

At the same time, her daughter Jazmine has been very involved in her school by participating in Southwest High School’s strong music program, as well in the programs that help the students improve in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts. All in all, the public education is given to Jazmine at the El Centro High School District is making a big difference in her future as she prepares for college life. 

“Our family emigrated to the Imperial Valley 8 years ago with a daughter of school age. At first, we were unaware of the elementary, middle, and higher educational system, but after attending the meetings offered by the School District of public schools, we got to know the variety of programs for parents,” Orosco said. “In addition to this, my daughter told me her teachers always encouraged them to prepare to attend a community college or university. The public schools that my daughter has attended have always fostered the interest of students to have a vision in university education, for example, our daughter is in the MESA and ORCHESTRA club and in both clubs they have taken the students to different universities which have been inspirational for the students.”

Virgilio and Patricia chose a public school since it has benefited her daughter to become a top student. It’s the parents’ choice to decide what type of school is the best fit for children’s educational needs that will help them in the future. 

Teachers are required to have a license in order to teach and students are sent to public schools based on where they live. Standards for each state may differ, but all public schools must adhere to certain standards. A Magnet School is a type of public school that specializes in a particular area such as science, technology, foreign language, or the arts. 

These schools are free to students and are generally operated by a particular district or group of districts. Some magnet schools are highly selective and choose students based on achievement while others use a lottery system to choose students.

Charter schools are a hybrid between a traditional public school and a private school. The school is free but parents must submit applications for their child to attend. Anyone can start a charter school and apply for state funding. However, if the school doesn’t mean certain standards within 3 to 5 years, that funding will be withdrawn and the school will close. Teachers and administrators at charter schools have more autonomy than most public schools. One of the newest options in public school education is online or virtual schools.

Online schools have developed during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. These schools follow the same educational requirements as traditional public schools but students attend classes online instead of in a school building. This type of school offers more flexibility to parents and students as well as the teachers. Until the pandemic, many families in the U.S. ruled out a private-school education because of the cost. We are seeing unprecedented interest from the public-school community seeking entrance into private schools during the pandemic period. We also have many options for private schools. Like the traditional private schools, boarding schools, Montessori schools, Language Immersion School, Private Special Education School, Religious School, Parochial School, and the Waldorf School.

Imperial County leaders have identified the need for an educated workforce as the single most important issue in the economic development of the county. For this reason, it is imperative to take a closer look at the local educational and career technical opportunities available for residents.

Imperial County is served by 16 independent school districts providing services from kindergarten to high school:

• the Imperial County Office of Education (ICOE) providing services through alternative education and special education programs;

• the Imperial Valley Regional Educational Program (IVROP) providing services in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs for youths and adults; and

• the Imperial Valley College (IVC) providing services to adults in a wide array of CTE certificates and associate degrees, as well as transfer programs to four-year colleges and universities.

San Diego State University – Imperial Valley (SDSU-IV), provides lower and upper-level courses allowing students to complete selected bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree without leaving Imperial County. The University of Phoenix is a private university with a campus in Imperial Valley also offering bachelor’s degrees.

The California Department of Education reports the 2019-2020 student enrollments were 37,375 in 16 school districts and the Office of Education in Imperial County. School districts ranged in size from 76 to 9,266 enrolled students. Student enrollment in public schools has increased 3.8 percent in the last 10 years. Imperial County has the highest concentration of Hispanic or Latino students of any county in California at 91.7 percent and the highest concentration of English Learners at 43.8 percent.

Families may opt for public or private schools based on reopening conditions during the fall of 2021. Children struggle to learn remotely during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The school you send your child to will largely depend on where you live and what options are available but if you have multiple options to choose from, it is important to learn what you can about each option.

The most important difference between private and public schools is the source of funding. Public schools are funded by local, state, or federal government while private schools are generally funded through tuition paid by the students. If private schools receive federal funds, they must also follow federal guidelines. Some of the distinct types of public schools are the traditional, magnet, charter, and online schools. Most traditional public schools are funded by the local, state, and federal government which means that they have a say in the curriculum and how the school is run.

Private schools in Imperial Valley also play a big role in developing a strong foundation for students. Those that have attended private schools tell Beyond Borders Gazette that more attention from teachers, staff, fewer crowds, fewer bullies, and a family environment is the advantage of going to private school.

Private schools, which generally have larger campuses, smaller classes, and greater autonomy, often demonstrated more flexibility when it came to reopening during the pandemic. On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act CARES Act was signed into law. It is a $2 trillion package of assistance measures, including $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA Act), was signed into law on December 27, 2020, and provides an additional $81.9 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund.

Private schools that don’t enroll at least 40 percent of their students from low-income backgrounds may miss out on getting certain funding from the coronavirus relief package enacted in March, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The requirements say that to qualify for a share of $2.75 billion in relief earmarked for private schools in the American Rescue Plan, private schools must show that the percentage of their enrollment of students from low-income families is at least 40 percent, based on certain data sources.

In addition, private school’s main focus is education and well as the emphasis on religious values, and the possibility of getting more scholarships. There are 488, 984 students in California enrolled in private schools according to the Department of Education. 

For Calexico Lorena Minor-Montes, enrolling her two daughters at St. Mary’s Catholic School in El Centro was an investment for a better education. Minor-Montes said that the teachers at the school are very hands-on with the students due to the small class size. Aside from that, teachers are strict and prepare the students for college life. 

“My daughters can freely express their faith and build a strong foundation in their education,” Minor-Montes said. She shared how her daughter was invited as an alternate in an academic decathlon in Math in which she excelled.

One of her daughters went back to public high school to the 9th grade during the last school year where she had a good academic year and was even interviewed by a local radio show. The goal is for both of her daughters to graduate from Calexico High School and continue the family tradition of graduating as Calexico Bulldogs, the mascot of Calexico High School. 

“The investment we made in private school is for the benefit so they can be better than me,” Minor-Montes said. 

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