Transition from Private School to Oakland Tech

My daughter is in 8th grade at an Oakland private school and we are now thinking about high school. Her current school does have a high school. She has received a wonderful private school education thus far but the costs of another four years at this school or any private school are a bit steep for us. If the past is any predictor of the future, we will not get much in the way of financial aid (maybe a couple thousand dollars). This money would be better utilized saving for spiraling college costs.  She is zoned for Oakland Tech but I don't know much about the school. My husband and I will visit, she'll shadow, we'll look at review sites like GreatSchools but that does not tell the whole story about a school's culture, administration, and educational programs. I am also concerned with OUSD's future fiscal situation and what that means in the next four years in its ability to get good teachers and not cutting programs. Because most our friends have kids in private school we have been in sort of a bubble.  I don't think any of her friends will be attending Tech so it would be restart on the friendship front. It's much larger than her current school and I don't want her to get lost. She is shy and slow to warm up around people but when given the opportunity is a leader.  In terms of grades, she is an A student.

I would like to hear from parents who made the transition from private to public after 8 years of private.  Particularly if your child attends or attended Oakland Tech. How was the transition for you and your child? What was the biggest hurdle for them/you? How can we help our child with this transition? Are there any other Oakland schools we should look at?

My husband and I both attended public schools in NYC where choosing a high school was a real choice depending on your interests, grades, etc.  So no need say "you went to public school so you know what its like"... It's a different time and place and I don't want to confuse my experience with with hers. I am also not dissing Oakland schools.  Just want some concrete perspectives from the parents that have traveled this path.  Thanks in advance.

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My oldest son went from 8 years at a private elementary and middle school to a public school in WCCSD. So not Oakland Tech, but perhaps a similar change in demographics, school size, resources and so forth. He's been there 2 years.

We have absolutely no regrets with our decision. Yes, some of the classes are bigger than at a private, and perhaps resources are slightly less fancy. (The physics text was showing its age during Back-to-School night.) But my student has been able to get into all the AP classes he wants, he has joined some amazing kids in extra-curricular activities and most important from a learning perspective, he actually has a much more realistic picture of the world. Average US household income is $60K, and his school has people far below and far above that. In his private school, I once overhead a parent complain that you were 'barely making it' earning $100K in the Bay area. On the financial side, the difference between the public school and a private high school is *no where* in the range of $40K per year. Certainly keep it for college. (College counselling is the one area that the public school has been disappointing. So you'll have to stay on top of that. But in my son's school, top students regularly get into UCLA, UC-Berkeley, Brown, Reed College, etc.)

My son attended Oakland Tech after spending 9 years at a private school. Although this was several years ago (he is 25 now), I think it was one of the best decisions we have made and it saved us a lot of money. He thrived there and was involved in sports and the Engineering Academy. The programs and demographics have changed since then, but still, it's a large urban public school where one can get a great education. They have different academies, which make the school seem not so large. There are great teachers, average teachers, and bad teachers in the mix, but that is true of any school - public or private. Kids who can navigate through a school like Tech learn many other things about life that are not just classroom related. Also, the parent body was very refreshing and down to earth - unlike some of the families at the private school. It will give your kid a real-world experience outside the bubble of private school privilege. If she can find the right friends to hang out with, she will be fine. You should visit the school and talk to parents, who are there currently. Walk around at Back-to-school night (that's what I did), attend a monthly PTSA meeting, and get as much information as you can.

I would say that the downsides are the fiscal situation and general bureaucracy of OUSD. The PTSA raises money each year to supplement programs at the school. More funding is always needed, but at least it's something. Also, I think that too much homework (busy work) is assigned in some of the classes, but that is a whole other issue common at most high schools. Good luck!

Our daughter left her private school after 8th grade for Berkeley high and is now a sophomore in college. Our son just did the same. For our daughter it was a great experience. Not in terms of academics (I think it would be hard to compare small classes with non-harried teachers at the private high school to public school) but in terms of life. There's more to adolescence and growing up than academics. At BHS, Our daughter learned about gratefulness, empathy, working with people very different from you, about challenges other people face, about speaking up, advocating for herself and how to stay away from trouble. Those skills wouldn't have been as needed in private school and maybe not possible there. We hope our son- a very different kid- learns these skills too.

 We made the same move you are pondering about 3 years ago (likely from the same school). My child went for 9th grade and by November decided to return to the private school (stayed the full year at Tech and returned to the old school in the fall). There were some good experiences, but unfortunately plenty of negative experiences. The overall quality just wasn't there and my child starting getting depressed and disengaging (getting straight As mind you, without putting in much effort). All of that changed once we returned to the private school. I had been told that 9th grade can be tough and to hang in there. I was sad to leave Tech because there is so much good there (and like you I find the rising costs of private school depressing, though when you see the difference in quality in some of the teaching you start to understand...). However, it was a no-brainer in our case and we never looked back - basically, I think I would have eventually suggested the move back to the private school if my child hadn't (this is very particular to my child, could be different with a different child). HOWEVER, we know several students at Tech who have overwhelmingly positive feelings about the school.  I honestly think that it can be hit or miss there, if you hit it it's great, if you miss it, it's not, but you won't know unless you try. And you and your daughter may find yourselves so glad to have made the change. Although, one last thought - you may want to look into parochial high schools for comparison if the religion thing doesn't bother you.