Lots of interesting answers
I work in the public school and my husband did not go to college and so works for some, not much, above minimum wage and we live in an expensive area of the country. We are also Catholic, trying hard to live devoutly and we recognize the responsibility we have in raising our son in the Faith. Not lip service to the Faith, LIVING in the Faith. And beyond that, I’ve been feeling more and more over the years that we have to protect him as best we can from the secular world, as well. And so, we’ve been thinking heavily about Catholic schools.
From my point of view as a teacher in the public schools, I can say that ANY mention of Jesus or God is frowned upon, especially in the younger grades (I was told by my principal, whom I like and respect, that this is because they can’t “decide for themselves” the “truth” of religion). So, obviously there is no mention of religion in lessons, but children are shushed even when THEY speak of God or Jesus in school. Even if the teacher personally thinks it’s great that their students know about Jesus (and many of them do), they are terrified that they will be reported as “supporting” religious dogma in their class, which carries heavy penalties. Usually, it’s a “that’s nice, dear” and quick change of topic. I’ve seen it happen and the quizzical, kind of confused looks on the kid’s faces as they sense the body language of “don’t talk about it”. It makes me more than sad and it’s something that I don’t want my son to experience. In fact, it’s something I don’t want working AGAINST what I’m teaching him at home. I don’t want him to have to “hide” what I hope will be a deep and profound love of Christ for the sake of being “good” in school.
OTOH, I think what another poster said about checking out the Catholic school you pick is critical too. You can end up in a Catholic school, and I’ve certainly heard of this, that is not much different than the local public school and you’ll be paying alot for it on top of that. Academically, from what I’ve heard and seen, I don’t know that there’s much difference. Teachers are teachers and what they have to teach doesn’t seem to vary much. A child that does well in public school is going to be just as academically sound as a child that does well in Catholic school, IMO. The difference (and, again, I’m basing it on my experience in the public school) is that, in public school, we don’t “choose” our students. We have to take every child that enrolls and they often (not just sometimes, but often) come with A LOT of baggage. The behaviors that occur in public school classrooms would curl your hair. Your child, in order to do well, has to have the strength of character and innate desire to learn, despite the challenges of behavior, drastically different levels of ability and distractions going on. My godson, who lived with us for a while, was able to do that. He’d ignore every distraction, read ahead in the book, do extra work, whatever. He just WANTED to be learning. My son, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be that way. He knows the rules, and he knows the consequences, but if Johnny and Joey are getting away with it, darnit!, he wants to goof off, too. To put my son in a public school (when he’s old enough) to compete with those distractions AND there’s no reinforcement of the religious teaching he’s getting at home, seems like a recipe for disaster to me. So, my husband and I are seriously considering Catholic school for him.
Okay, so if you’re still with me, God bless you! All of this to say…I think it depends on the school AND on the child.