A Private or Public High School Baseball Career – Parents Sound Off On This Rhode Island Family Matter
A few weeks ago, I posted an article asking parents, players, coaches, faculty, and the rest of the Rhode Island Baseball Community to help me answer a question. Should I enroll my child in a private school here in Rhode Island for academics and athletics such as baseball or should I enroll my child in the public school in his/her community where they played Little League and Middle School baseball? I mentioned in the article that I wanted to hear from parents that have made the decision and those are in the process of making this decision. I am happy to report that I have received a number of outstanding emails filled with how the decision making process went and ultimately if they chose a private education vs a public education for their child. I promised no names and no emails, and I will fulfill that promise. To go a step further, I have also removed the public and private high school’s names from the emails to make the emails even more anonymous. This debate is not over and this is just a small sample of how some of our Rhode Island families worked through the issue of a private school student athlete’s career vs a public school student athlete’s career. Here are the emails and messages I have received:
Good morning, appreciate all your work with the RI Baseball Experience page. It’s fantastic. Here is my son’s story as he is going into 9th grade next year at (public high school). Last fall my wife and I were discussing with our son about applying to (private high school) for high school. He’s an Honors student who plays school & travel basketball & baseball for area teams. He’s typically one of the best players or top 2-3 on his teams. His issue in HS will most likely be size, he’s a tremendous athlete, fast & strong but most likely will top out at 5’8/5’9 in terms of height. After he was accepted into (private school), we all discussed the decision. I looked at it from an athletic point of view and I told him that knowing the kids who are at (private school) now and were applying to go there next year as 9th graders that there was a chance he may not play Varsity until Junior maybe even Senior year or at all. My wife & I are both big on academics and made the point to him that he will be challenged in the classroom like never before. After having a very successful MS (middle school) Hoops season with many of his friends from Little League & Boys Club Hoop days, he was confident in his decision to go to (public) HS. He also had a great time playing with his friends in MS Baseball so I think the friendships he’s made over the years made him choose public school. Honestly, the debate question you raised was a fantastic one that many RI families deal with as their son or daughter get ready to leave middle school. For us I also think that the fact he’s in Honors classes, does well in class, and has a core group of good kids as friends helped make the choice easier for us. Obviously, the majority of high school athletes are not going to a big-time college for sports, so for us and I think our son, who lives & breathes sports, the opportunity to play right away and with his friends was a big factor in deciding to not go to (private school).
Good evening, I’m replying to your question about private vs public schools. Both my boys went to public school until late elementary, then went to private school for the end of elementary/ middle school and now both go to private high school. We chose private as we were not happy with our town’s educational system at all. They also were not happy with their public school. Our oldest always heard about (private school) having a great baseball team. Our youngest doesn’t play sports. He would have been eaten alive in public school as he is shy and keeps to himself so that is why we chose (private school). For our oldest we chose it as he needed more academic help in a smaller classroom setting which (private school) has absolutely come through with this help. So, for our oldest there was no recruitment, he just worked extremely hard to make the baseball team. We made this decision as a family (although really it was my husband and I, lol) we all talked at length about the pros and cons. When our oldest sees his friends he grew up with on opposing teams they usually catch up and it seems fine overall. In fact he plays with them in the summer so it all works out. Academically we are very happy with our choice of (private school) as they have helped them grow into great, empathetic, caring, thoughtful men. I would absolutely recommend (private school) for anyone thinking of going. When it comes to making the baseball team though you really have to excel and stand out- coaches talk throughout the state so word gets around about the player AND ALSO the parents, so this is important to know.
Being a RI public school kid myself at one time and now have a recent (private school) grad as well as a sophomore at the school. Here are my thoughts:
- Main factor of choosing private school was academics and culture of rules. Had public middle school experience where both my children weren’t challenged and did little work while getting good grades. Public school tended to lump all in same groups. In addition, discipline is an issue in public schools. Days of weeding out troublesome and distracting kids is gone. It’s nearly impossible to get expelled from public school.
- Athletics were not a factor although the programs that (private school) runs are clearly top notch. A school like (private school) is ultra competitive in sports which also scares many athletes away. Easier route and more playing time at public school for sure. (Private school) cuts at every level- varsity/JV and freshmen teams. My son has had to work very hard to get to where he is.
- My son was certainly not recruited although I can see how high profile kids are drawn to a program.
- Although summer camps definitely provide good promotion. All high schools have summer camps though for the most part. It’s up to them to sell the program.
- Family decision- Had to work out finances.
- Kids still maintain friendships for the most part although at different schools. Have seen some resentment from local parents at times I must admit.
- Catholic values is a strong selling point. Lots of reinforcement of serving others. Above all highly competitive academically. Makes for raising the bar and ultimately preparing for the next level.
- I would recommend the school for sure but it’s not for everyone. It’s a big school and can be daunting at times.
Either is great, while we do not only go to (private school) for the Baseball, as a family we have chosen a private catholic education. With that said they are top-notch, I love (private school) if you’re looking for the best training, fields, coaches, and competition. They have 8th, 9th, Junior Varsity, and Varsity teams. (Private School) does play many out-of-state teams giving the students more competition at their age level. (Private School)’s teams are not as fluid as the public – (they do not move students from freshman to JV or JV to Varsity or Varsity to JV when they play tough teams.) The coaches encourage multiple sports players but are not all about sports, grades are important. I would share this information with anyone that asked, as I am from one of the most affluent public schools. Privates are not stealing students, they set the best atmosphere for those students to grow, public may be it for others. Why people have to accuse schools of recruiting/ drawing talent away is a mystery.
Great survey, and I’m interested to hear the results. My son is only going into 7th grade, but we’re starting to look at private High Schools. Although you may not include this data in your survey, I thought you might find some of my responses interesting, and perhaps you would do a future survey on middle school baseball.
- What was the main factor in your decision to attend a public or private school? – Education. We live in (City name removed) and the school system is horrible academically and there are too many behavior issues in the school to distract the kids.
- Were athletics a factor and what about the athletics interested you in this school? When looking at a private grammar/middle school, yes athletics played a role, as some did not offer any athletics. We wanted athletic opportunities for social reasons, and confidence building.
- When you were making the decision, how much weight did your child or you yourself have in the decision? In other words, did you want your child to attend X school and your child wanted to attend Y school? We consider decisions like this a family decision. Obviously having to drive and pay for the school are considerations that we need to weigh in on!
- When you see a player on the opposing team that plays for a public or private school that you grew up with, that was on your youth baseball teams, does it impact you – positively or negatively? Our son still plays Little league with public school friends, and on travel teams with public and private school friends. No impact I see, or that the kids see.
- Apart from baseball, what is your child receiving educationally at your school that makes you feel like you made the right decision? Advanced courses that he would not have been offered in public school.
- Would you recommend the school your child is playing baseball at now to other families and why? Unfortunately, our school did not offer baseball this year as a lingering result of Covid. But we do have several parents discussing with principal and athletic director to field a team next year. We believe we have enough kids, and parents to coach to field a team. It’s unfortunate that the kids are missing out on playing for a middle school team, when the 7th/8th graders who play Babe Ruth have not had practices since those teams assume they are all playing in middle school or on travel teams.
We chose public over private for 2 of the 3 kids thus far. At (public high school) they have a Career and Tech… we’re living in a new Era where Skill Trade is the way to go and education isn’t that important now a days. It’s done a complete 180 from the time I was growing up, unless your looking to work in medical field, become a business owner or a lawyer.
- What was the main factor in your decision to attend a public or private school? Education – Our HS (public high school) is not ranked very high in the state. I had some social considerations for my oldest as well.
- Were athletics a factor and what about the athletics interested you in this school? We thought it would be harder to make the teams at (private high school)
- When you were making the decision, how much weight did your child or you yourself have in the decision? In other words, did you want your child to attend X school and your child wanted to attend Y school? The boys both had to make the final decision but knew I preferred (private) over (public).
- When you see a player on the opposing team that plays for a public or private school that you grew up with, that was on your youth baseball teams, does it impact you – positively or negatively? I love seeing the kids that the boys played with for so long and feel sad that my kids aren’t still playing with them. I also feel that they would have gotten more playing time had they stayed in their public school – Is it worse to not play or play more with less competition? The struggle is real.
- Apart from baseball, what is your child receiving educationally at your school that makes you feel like you made the right decision? I felt that the administration at private was quicker to respond and communicate issues so that we could address grades/discipline, etc.
- Would you recommend the school your child is playing baseball at now to other families and why? I like (private high school), but I feel that I had stronger ties to (public school). I don’t know if it is because it is HS and parents are not as involved as we were in elementary and middle or if it is a mix of communities. I do think they are challenged more educationally than if they had stayed at (public high school) – especially during the pandemic – they had more resources to respond to changes, provide more education and keep the kids accountable. I believe that kids can excel whether they go to public or private school and that it is a choice that has to be made for each family and for each child – every situation is different. Had our school department been higher ranked, we may not have considered private. Sports were always a secondary conversation – I hope that my youngest will play in college, but as average players, it is unlikely it will go further than that so decisions about education and facing challenges has been the primary focus.
This often debated topic is a ultimately a personal family matter and every family has their reasons for their ultimate decision – a private school vs a public school. Of the responses in favor of a private school career, factors such as athletic fields/competition/reputation as well as advanced courses and a catholic based education were important to those who responded. Of the responses in favor of a public school career, factors such as trade school curriculums, maintaining lifelong friendships with youth sports teammates, and potentially more playing time were important to those who responded. Some mentioned financial concerns as well as travel time and other social issues that ultimately swayed their decision. I liked that many of the responses stated that they were “family” decisions and not just one parent or set of parents telling a child “you have to go to this school, or else.” Another aspect of this discussion is the “stealing” of public school players that end up attending private schools. Most of the responses I received felt those comments are not called for. However, those are some of the most common responses I hear at high school ball fields all spring long. “See that kid, he is from X but he attends Y. If we had that kid, we would be undefeated,” or something like that.
I want to thank the many parents who responded with their comments, suggestions, concerns, and rationales on this public school vs private school subject matter. I appreciate your decision and your honesty in writing back to me. And I look forward to hearing from the rest of you and yours on this debate via social media or you can message me directly at email@example.com.
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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.
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