My children will go to an independent coed school. Meeting people from all backgrounds is important, but not as important to me as being held to an extremely high academic standard in an environment with lots of choices and fewer distractions.
Single sex ed here is restricted primarily to Catholic schools (with notable exceptions). I had kind of a romanticized notion of it until I went to Oxford, where I can safely say at least half, and probably more like 75%, of the students in my college had been at single sex independent schools. They were light years behind in terms of social development (not in charming bumbling ways, in terrifying ways, like borderline assault) I quickly decided no way.
I went to a private parochial school for my elementary/middle-school education (it was also co-ed). It's made high school so much easier for me and it looks good on college applications, too. I think it's definitely an option worth considering for any parent.
My older 3 attend a Sudbury/Democratic model private school. It is working well and all three are thriving. My husband and I both attended public school and went on to college (I have my BA from a private college, him his BS from a state university, his Masters of Ed from the same state university and his is almost 2 semesters into his MBA from a private university). We feel strongly in the school that we have chosen for our children and that it will serve their needsneeds not only in learning what they need to learn in order to be self sufficient, productive adults, but emotionally as well.
Pros for us are many, the only cons are tuituion and needing to drive them to and from each day.
I have attended coed private school all my life and definitely would not consider anything else for my child. Private schools do, generally and though my own experiences, have a better academic standing and much more available resources and opportunities for their students. Most private school in my area have bus systems, but I'm not sure if it is the same for other places. And if you care about this sort of thing, I really like how much history there is in many independent schools. Many of them, though not all, go back a hundred years or more (I always found it interesting that some of them have been around since before Canada was even a country). There was even a former student at my school who died on the Titanic!
Choosing a coed school eliminates the limitations that come from attending a single-sex school. There are several single single-sex school near mine that we frequently interact with, and the students are quite emotionally immature and, as blade put it, socially underdeveloped, about interacting with the opposite gender and even any other people. My mom once told me that the only way she would send me to an all-girls school was if I was guy-crazy to the point of it affecting my academic progress. I would love to go to boarding school, though.
Now, I am going to go on a bit of a rant here. I have heard many people in many places say that private school kids are sheltered and naive and don't know anything about the real world. That is simply not true. If by that, they mean we don't understand about poverty and those less fortunate, that is false because private schools, at least where I am (Canada) put a huge emphasis on volunteering and doing good in the world. At my school, there are service trips available every year to some of the most povertized countries in the the world, where the students live and breathe the dismal conditions that no human being should ever have to endure, and those trips are immensely popular, with up to 100 students going each year (it's a small school). There is a program that works with recent youth refugees from war-torn countries. Some of those kids can't read, or write, and have seen family members murdered, or have almost starved to death in some refugee camp in the Middle East.
If by that they mean that we have never experienced the hardships that other Canadian children face, that is also false. There are kids in private school who are addicted to and deal drugs, and who are physically and emotionally abused by their parents. Friends and relatives of private school students still get terminal illnesses, or are disfigured or killed in car accidents or fires. We still have to get jobs in high school, and our parents still work their behinds off every day so that we can get this education (though there are admittedly some exceptions). We know about the horrible things that are shown on the news, we know about politics and world issues. We know how to work for something we want and we understand that there is a good chance we may not get it. In short, we don't all live in ivory towers. We can still attend a private school and have plenty of time and opportunity to interact with people of all social classes and backgrounds. If there are children who don't, that is because of the parents, not their schooling.
Private school kids are not conceited. Kids at my school hang out with public school kids all the time and we get along perfectly well. I have never, ever seen a private school student be stuck-up or snobbish towards anyone. In fact, in all the times when there have been disrespect and hostility between the two groups, it has been the kids from public school, not us. When I play sports outside of school, I always dread the moment when someone asks, "so what school does everybody go to?" Because everyone else goes to public school. I always try my best not to be present for those discussions because I don't feel like being shunned or made fun of, not the other way around. Even my teachers have told us about being ostracized by other teachers, at conferences and such, because they teach at a private school. (I always thought that was kind of funny)
Phew, that was long. :) I've never written such a long post in my life! Anyway, I know I can't speak for everybody; there are awful people in every social class. But from my lifelong experiences (although it has only been fourteen years) private school attendees are perfectly normal people, and get a great education, both inside and outside of the classroom. I didn't mean to offend anyone by writing this post and hope it provided some useful insight into this discussion.
Right now, I'm in a public middle school in California (The SF Bay Area, to be specific), that I really enjoy. However, the school in my area is quite good and the high school it leads into is a California Distinguished School, so it's really a very good public school.
I, as a student, would recommend co-ed schools (I find that being around a bunch of adolescent boys seems to give the girls at my school a better understanding of others that a friend of mine attending an all-girls school doesn't have [Girls and boys are, obviously, very different, and she and her other friends seem to lack a certain amount of empathy and understanding that others at my school have] and also is a bit more fun than just girls [Girls, in general, have a lot of drama amongst themselves, and having boys around makes sure there isn't TOO much drama, even though that's the opposite of what you think], but if you don't have a good quality public school near you I would recommend private school.
I don't have kids, as I still am a kid, so I'm really not sure. That's just my opinion as a student.
I attended public school all my life. HOWEVER, the schools I went to were in the higher rankings and had a lot more opportunities (sports, band, orchestra, choir, theater, etc...)
I definitely plan on sending my future children to a public school, however, it will be a higher ranking one and they'll also go into a Chinese Immersion program (I live in an area that has really good public schools).
For the Chinese program, we will have to pay for kindergarten since it's full day instead of half day, but after that the education is "free."
So not sure if I'm any help, but overall I enjoyed public school. I was able to meet tons of different people from different backgrounds.
I went to public schools my entire life. They weren't great. Many kids were very disruptive and not interested in learning. If I had the money, I'd probably send my kids to private school. I'd definitely consider a top-notch charter school as well.
I live in the U.S., but I went to private school from grades Kindergarten to 12th grade (the end of high school) I lived growing up in an atmosphere like that. I actually went to Catholic school and all of my teachers actually cared. If you needed help with anything, they would help you. I strongly recommend private school, I am not saying everyone is sweet and kind (people just aren't like that!) but it was fun to go to a school where everyone wore to same thing and were disciplined, but we still had tons of fun. (just a note---I went to a co-Ed private school all my life because I hated all-girls atmospheres)
This is a question that is already causing me stress, and my child isn't even born yet.
I grew up in Wisconsin when my state averaged 2nd in the nation for public education. There was not really any school choice in my tiny town of 8,000 people. You went to the elementary school on your side of town. Then you went to the 1 middle school, followed by the 1 high school. The only other option was private Christian school. They were way behind academically, but it was Christian-based teaching.
Anyway, I think I received a good public education. I am not saying that my education was extraordinary, but it was as challenging as I wanted to make it. I always loved school and learning. I do well with the standard education model. I am great at memorizing and great at test taking. I thought school was fun. I was a weird kid. I took the accelerated classes and chose AP classes in high school. In college, I did well at UW-Madison and had no problem competing with all of the other students from all types of schooling backgrounds. I would have LOVED to be from a wealthier town or part of the state with more modernized schools and more class selection, though.
With that said, I would have been THRILLED to have gone to a private school had my family had the financial means to send me. My impression of private schools is that class sizes are smaller, attention is more one on one, and a gifted child has so much more at his or her finger tips to encourage growth and academic success. I loved school and learning as a child, and I always wanted to be challenged more and more. I think I would have excelled in a private school environment.
Now I am in San Diego, and the public education system here terrifies me. I can't afford to send my child to private school, but I feel like I will be vastly disappointed in the public schools here. I am looking into finding a way to fund either a Waldorf or Montessori education for my kid. I know there are ways to get financial aid if I want it badly enough.
Education is a non-negotiable for me. I will find a way to give this kid the best education I can provide. If my child is like I was, s/he will be a sponge for information and will absolutely love school. I want to give him/her more than I was given. I want a very diverse, co-ed school that fosters creativity, independent thinking, and kindness and compassion while ALSO striving for academic excellence. Finding a way to provide a great education for my child is one of my greatest responsibilities.
In the end, I am a supporter of public education, in theory. I wish our country valued it more. Ideally, that is the road I'd love to take with my kid, but the reality is that we are allowing public education to absolutely tank in this country. Some areas of the country do better than others. Unfortunately, to really give your child a head up in the world, you usually need to look at other education models before public schools.
I'm in a America, work in public schools and think they're pretty great, (although quality of public schools can vary greatly depending on where you live.) I don't have a lot of experience with private school, but will tell you this: I attended public school k-12 in a fairly rural community. My friend attended private catholic school in the city. We now have the same exact job with offices right next to each other.... We make the same, had the same experiences in college, and work and collaborate well together. We were just talking about how, in high school, I took blow off classes my senior year because I had taken all my required courses early on. She was not allowed to do this at her private school, and ended up taking tons of college prep, physics, etc as her "electives." I'm not knocking that, only saying that our experiences were very different, but ultimately yielded the same result.