It is coming time for my wife and I to start making some choices about our kids' education, and we find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. To grossly over-simplify our recent conversations, we feel that while we believe in the concept and overall value of the public schooling system (we are, after all, products of that system), it is really lacking in some of the areas that have proven to be really important in our lives. There is such a factory mentality where each child in a given age group is expected to perform via arbitrary testing a certain set of tasks to a given standard. There is a total disregard for the kaleidoscope of learning abilities and maturity variations among age groups in an effort to show the world a letter grade classification of ability. Most of us know by now that this is a fairly inadequate method of skill or knowledge evaluation, and it doesn't even begin to address the application of that skill or knowledge in the real world. Conversely, there are a wide variety of alternative education methods, all the way from home schooling to private schools to subsidized independant schools. Now, we aren't considering the wild west of education here. Whatever we choose will need to conform to the prescribed learning outcomes handed down from on high because the reality we live in dictates that without a certified diploma, life can get difficult in a hurry. However, it seems like many of the schools we look at lack professionalism (clean facilities, trained teachers, etc), have a chip on their shoulder for the public system and exist almost solely to stick it to the man, or are more interested in making my kids into forest elves than critically thinking professionals. The benefit is that most of these places look at children as individuals, allowing them to accelerate learning in areas that they naturally gravitate towards, while supporting them further with areas that develop more slowly. Now, I know that these things are not the sole responsibility of a school system. We ought to be past that by now. That being said...who has gone through this? Are there education professionals on these boards that can lend some perspective? Parents?