Washington, DC suburbs in MarylandCalvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County
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I grew up in Montgomery Cty and know the high schools very well. You can search online and see what middle and elementary schools feed into each one to get more info. For public schools Einstein, Churchill and Wooton were thought to be some of the best but they are also located in the richest areas. By best I mean some of the safest, academically, sports teams, facilities etc. BTW churchill and wooton pick up kids from potomac and although many kids may go to private schools the public school are in no way neglected. Some other very good schools are Richard Montgomery, Paint Branch, Damascus, Magruder, Sherwood which are farther out in MoCo.
MoCo has magnet school programs where especially gifted kids can apply to and go to a school farther away that has a special curriculum. If a kid has certain grade level or shows exceptioinal talent during middle school they may be invited to attend one of these schools. Obviously, by doing this you have gathered the kids who the very best and brightest academically. The magnet programs were better because the students are allowed much more freedoms to choose classes and the classes are structured much more around group work and longer term projects rather than night to night busy work. However, due to the protests of the parents of poorer, underprivileged and underperforming kids the school boards will not allow the magnet schools to be housed separately from regular public school kids. So, if you kid is in a magnet school program their classes will be different from the regular kids but in the same building as the regular kids. The main magnet schools I know of are Richard Montgomery (in Rockville) and Montgomery Blair (silver spring). The mixture of extremely talented kids, academic focused kids, many who are bussed in from richer areas of the county with, in some cases, kids who are just looking for something to keep them off the streets can cause problems with safety. Richard Montgomery this is not a very big problem. However, at Blair, this mix causes Blair to have some the highest of levels of violence, theft etc of any school in the system (with the exception of Mark Twain Alternative School which is where the most disruptive and violent kids are sent).
Private schools are also not all created equally and draw from very different groups of kids due to cost, location etc. Georgetown Prep, Bullis, Holy Cross, Sidwell Friends, are considered to be the most expensive are sort of the stereotypical prep school attended by the children of senators, congresspeople, extremely wealthy people, Paris Hilton types. Many people consider Holy Cross to be full of Paris Hilton clones. Last I heard tuition was in the range of $20K+ per year. Hillary Clintons' daughter Chelsea attended Sidwell Friends. The other schools like Palotti, Paul VI, Good Counsel, Gonzaga, Dematha attract privileged and good mostly middle and upper middle class kids with some very deserving working class kids. I went to Good Counsel and can assure you that there were no Paris Hilton types there and the kids did not have trust funds.
BTW many of the catholic schools attract many non-catholics and don't ram it down your throats either or single out non-catholics at any stage. You are never forced to attend mass. At Good Counsel approx 15% of the kids were not catholic. I have heard that at Archbishop Carroll only about 40% of the kids are catholic.
Also, if you talk to people who attend the better public schools they will try to assure you that their school is better than a private school because they are at a better public school. I can assure you that this is completely FALSE. If I didn't go to Good Counsel I would have gone to Magruder. None of my middle school friends went to GC they all went to Magruder and I kept close with them while making new friends at GC. The big reason is discipline. At public school the teachers have very little recourse only one recourse to discipline kids. This leads to little respect for teachers, rules, authority. At private schools there is no corporal punishment but blatant disrespect will be dealt with immediately and was always done appropriately so that there was respect for teachers and rules.
Message me if you want more info about baltimore area schools
So, if you kid is in a magnet school program their classes will be different from the regular kids but in the same building as the regular kids. The main magnet schools I know of are Richard Montgomery (in Rockville) and Montgomery Blair (silver spring). The mixture of extremely talented kids, academic focused kids, many who are bussed in from richer areas of the county with, in some cases, kids who are just looking for something to keep them off the streets can cause problems with safety. Richard Montgomery this is not a very big problem. However, at Blair, this mix causes Blair to have some the highest of levels of violence, theft etc of any school in the system (with the exception of Mark Twain Alternative School which is where the most disruptive and violent kids are sent).
Just a note or two on Blair -
I went to Blair, and was in the magnet, although Blair was also my local school. The magnet at Blair stemmed from early attempts to change the demographics of the school by importing non-minority students from other areas of the county; this is no longer allowed by law, but the program was so popular that it persisted anyway.
Due to the scheduling and the types of classes (AP, honors) that magnet students are likely to take, most classes (including non-magnet) that magnet students end up in are dominated by magnet students. Exceptions to this are things like art electives and gym. So, there is very little mixing of magnet students with non-magnets - for good or for bad. I will note that the busing was very grueling, especially for students who lived in the further reaches of the county, like Damascus and Poolesville - and this was 15 years ago when traffic was not as bad as it is now.
Things may have changed, but I never felt that Blair was particularly violent or crime-ridden. There were some minor incidents and typical pranks - but upcounty schools seemed to have their share of drug use and drunk driving accidents. Blair did (and probably still does) have security guards who roam the halls and stop students who loiter around between classes. It was very crowded (I remember visiting some other midcounty school during the day and was shocked when the bell rang and the halls were almost empty, while at Blair there was a seething crush of bodies), but that was in the old building - there is now a brand new building in a new location with much better athletic fields/etc.
Blair has its good and bad points, and certainly isn't for everyone, but it can also be a really good experience.
I'm glad we chose PG county over Montgomery because there are good magnet schools, including French Immersion and Montessori at the elementary level.
Montgomery County has French Immersion magnet programs too, but it's impossible to get into them. Do you know anything about PG County's French Immersion program? I might actually move into PG County if I could get my daughters into a French Immersion program (tried and failed to get my oldest into the program here in Charlotte too). My oldest is in first grade, and my youngest is not yet school-aged.
I imagine that there's a wait list a mile long, and a lottery, and by second grade, if your kid isn't already fluent they won't let her in (that's what Montgomery County does). Does that sound about right? I think I'm just out of luck.
Does anyone know of any private schools in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area (or somewhere else really close-in) that teach through French Immersion, or at least have a really good French program, that are reasonable to get into? I've been through the whole write-three-essays-go-to-multiple-interviews-pay-waitlist-fees-and-then-
get-rejected-in-favor-of-richer/better-connected-families thing, and I don't really want to fool around too much with that anymore, but I think I'd jump through a couple hoops if someone might actually try to teach my kids a foreign language.
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