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Mom 'would scrub floors' to keep kids in private school

Posted February 12, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Many people are pinching pennies these days, but many, like Janine James, also say there is one thing they are not willing to give up: private school for their children.

“I really would do whatever I had to do. I would scrub floors if necessary,” said James, whose son Clarence attends Cardinal Gibbons High School.

While 120,000 students dropped from private schools nationwide this school year, officials at several Triangle institutions reported that their open houses have been full of interested families.

That doesn't mean local families aren't struggling to pay, however.

Parents making private school a priority Parents making private school a priority

Tuition at Cardinal Gibbons is $8,100 a year for Catholic students and $11,440 for non-Catholics. Principal Jason Curtis said he gets about four money-related calls a week.

“We get them ... from parents who have unfortunately either lost jobs or their employment situation may be a tenuous,” Curtis said. "Their first thought is about their family and their children and they want to know what possibilities there are to make sure that their children stay here.”

As money dries up for families, many private schools are stepping in to keep students from walking out the schoolhouse doors.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of stretching out the payments or a matter of a grant that they might need immediately,” Curtis said.

The Duke School in Durham, where tuition is about $13,500, increased its financial aid budget about 25 percent and created a six-figure recession grant.

“(The grant is) for families who had material changes in their economic situation to write to the school, explain those situations and then we work with them to try to make an arrangement,” said Dave Michelman, head of the Duke School.

Nearly 20 parents have called about the grant, and about 50 have sought financial aid, he said.

Many parents say private school is an expense they are willing to pay, regardless of the economy.

“To me, providing them an environment where they learn spirituality and get comfortable with it, as well as getting a good academic foundation, is important,” James said.


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  • animated245 Feb 13, 2009

    How about those of us who work in a public school just to help fund our daughters' private school education? Yep, there are lots of my colleagues who do everything we can do and try to be quality professionals. However, the situations and guidelines we are presented with would make me scrub floors, too, just to see them somewhere else.

  • didisaythat Feb 13, 2009

    I hope the good folks of the state and nation know that Barack Obama is against giving vouchers to go to private school.

  • danaybanks2 Feb 13, 2009

    I went to Catholic school for 12 years and in BROOKLYN NEW YORK, at that time, no one from the neighborhood who went to public school graduated from high school. It was a fact at that time. During that time, my friends who went to public school played hookie, brought guns to school, smoked pot, etc., while we wore our little uniforms and graduated from high school on time and went on to college. My mom worked 2 jobs (and paid her own way through college) to keep me and my brother in private school and I feel that it was the best decision and education you could get AT THAT TIME IN BROOKLYN NEW YORK! She said "I had a choice between spending my money on education or bullet proof vests, and um it really was a no brainer!" But, really, this article had nothing to do with which is better, it was about making choices about your child's education. And, I'm glad about the choice my mom made at THAT TIME.

  • Foxtrot Delta Tango Feb 13, 2009

    Where you go makes no difference, it's what you do with your time there. I've been to both public and private schools. Parent involvment makes a big difference too.

  • The Neutralizer Feb 13, 2009

    I feel so awful that I put my poor children through the public school system just so they could graduate from college and get a job at SAS and in the financial market!! Darn what a poor mother I am! Forgive me children for not scrubbing floors and holding 4 jobs to put you through private school......

    What financial market? SAS? wow that's impresive, I think I am going to drop out of private school and get into the Wake County Public School System to get a job in SAS. I heard there math and science program is just unmatchable. I am sure your children already forgave you since you played russian roulette with their future. Great experiment, I am glad it worked out okay. Listen if you can't afford private school that is alright, but if you can that is alright too no need to get all sarcastic and offended.

  • ridemtb Feb 13, 2009

    I think it is funny that all these people are making fun of each other. Is it really that important whether or not someone sends their children to public or private schools. I would thank the private school parents for paying taxes for education and choosing not to use it. So its really like paying double for their education. It sounds to me like there is too many hard feelings for those that choose the private education. I am sure that many of these parents sacrifice a lot for their kids education. $6,000 dollars a year per kid is no walk in the park for most Americans. So instead of trashing maybe you should thank them for giving extra money to your child's education.

  • Here kitty kitty Feb 13, 2009

    I feel so awful that I put my poor children through the public school system just so they could graduate from college and get a job at SAS and in the financial market!! Darn what a poor mother I am! Forgive me children for not scrubbing floors and holding 4 jobs to put you through private school......

  • Justin T. Feb 13, 2009

    I don't know if any more comments are being taken on this story but here goes:

    I like to over-scrutinize public school and plan to put my kids in private school for a few reasons. 1. America uses public school to babysit kids whether they want an education or not. There aren't many "bad kids"... just generations of parents who don't care about anything and push their problems off on the government. There should be more types of public schools to address the needs of kids who perform on different levels and we need to stop lumping them together. 2. Public schools need to quit having such fatcat, arrogant administrators and redouble the focus on learning... not just creating a system that gives cronies high paying, useless jobs. 3. Private schools are great competition and hopefully if enrollment drops enough in publik skule they will raise the bar. 4. Public school should adequately prepare students for public college. It just makes sense that K-16 is one cohesive environment.

  • rednek Feb 13, 2009


    It would not be such a bad deal to pay taxes for public education IF the "education" was worth even half what it cost. The students RUN the schools, teachers have a difficult time TRYING to maintain a learning environment. If the disruptive students (they are not there to learn anyway)were EXPELLED, PERMENTALLY, maybe things would change and I would not resent my taxes being spent on public "education"!

  • JAT Feb 13, 2009

    howdid - with all due respect, you have to know what that 100% acceptance rate really is about. I used to work at a private school that boasted that. And, yeah, they did have 100% acceptance, but it was because they would find some school that would let you in, and you would apply there. It doesn't mean that 100% actually went to college. However, I suppose it is admirable that your school would go to whatever lengths needed to get you in somewhere, even if it was just to keep their "tradition" going.