Should I send my children to a well established public school or a not so well established Islamic school? I am constantly being told by family members to send my son to a state school as the level education is better, I would prefer to send him to an Islamic school because of the environment, because I don’t like the godlessness and immoral environment in state schools.
I’m not really able to comment on the U.K situation since my experience is in the USA. However, I have found that most of the kids who attend excellent public schools, combined with good parenting, seem to turn our much better than those who attend Islamic Schools who are sub par in their education religious and otherwise. This is my experience and it is not something that is written in stone. However, as an educator, I’m inclining towards sending my own kids to public schools for a number of reasons:
1. Preparation instead of incubation:
I’ve seen many kids come out of Islamic schools incubated and unable to deal with the drama that awaits them in High School and the Campus. Thus, and I’ve put this question to Islamic educators before, we need to move from an incubation psychology to one that prepares, empowers and strengthens our young people. By sending children to education reservoirs we are failing to prepare them for what awaits them. Thus, indirectly, we might be creating inverted personalities who fail to connect with the fact that they are part and parcel to the society at large. This effort to “protect them” as I’ve seen, only increases their hunger to break away from the pride lands and kick it with Beyonce. The most difficult youth I’ve dealt with were all graduates from such reservoirs. On the other hand, youth who went to public schools, had non-Muslim friends and engaged were far more comfortable with themselves. The others, to put it bluntly were walking Freudian slips.
2. Education standards and Ethics:
So far, and I’ve taught in Islamic schools for a number of year and have a degree in elementary education, I’ve not seen, at least in the States, any Islamic school that can educate a child the way public schools do. The latter have issues, but the former have not, in most cases I’ve seen, lived up to the visions associated with them. When it comes to testing your kids, addressing learning issues and cognitive development, many public schools are setting some amazing trends. Islamic schools are not able to offer the same resources for a simple reason: money.
Unfortunately Islamic Schools have become the focus of many a political battle in communities. Wives, who are unqualified, of mosque board presidents get hired and some boards have no clue about education. In fact, I remember, during a job interview being asked, “Does one really need a degree to be a good teacher?”
4. At the end of the day, WE must raise our kids:
No Islamic school, nor any other institute is going to do the job that good parents can do. It is a simple fact that schools, and in recent years, the internet are closing in on parents as the most important factors in a child’s life. However, religion, morals and faith should be looked at like a grammar that is acquired, not preached, or uploaded. Organic and robust religious experiences come through a set of sociological constructs that are formed, shaped, nurtured and lived in one’s home.
Most of us, if we are holding down good jobs, are unable to pay the high costs of Islamic schools. Once you get past two children it becomes next to impossible to afford tuition, books and uniforms.
Allah knows best but I would:
1. Make Istikhara.
2. Talk with other parents in the community.
3. Make a decision based on the above.
4. Visit both schools and look at the philosophy of each school/ask to see test scores as well.
6. Proven Wrong by the Best Islamic School in America
If there is one school that I would fully endorse with no reservations it would be Granada School in Santa Clara California. This school proved me wrong and put my contentions, mentioend above to the test. By Allah I sent my daughter there and it was one of the best experiences of her life. In the beginning, because of my own experiences, I was a little worried, however her teacher was amazing and the school setting was awesome. Because of that experience I’m an avid supporter of Granada and have always complemented and supported it. If one can find a school comparable to Granada, then by all means I would encourage one to send his/her child there.
We ask Allah to bless you both, protect your children and raise your status. Please don’t take these words and write them in stone. They are mere opinions. They might be right or they might be wrong.