There's nothing better than seeing non-average teenagers, students, etc.
As the parent of 3 very non-average teens, I totally agree with what you're saying, Scott. The average public school sucks. If you are not an average kid, you will never quite fit in either academically or socially. If you question the teachers (especially when you're really young) you will be pegged as a trouble-maker.
My kids have had a mixture of public school and private school education, mostly because we were so disgusted by the public schools. They take smart, creative little kids who have high self-esteem and basically beat it out of them until they're ready to follow along with the crowd.
Yeah...we need more kids/grown-ups like that.
Sending my kids to Montessori school when they were younger was the best thing that we could have ever done, imo. It quickly served to put their broken self-esteem back in order, and encouraged them to be creative, independent thinkers. Not robot sheep.
Unfortunately, there were not a lot of options where I live for good middle schools. My oldest went into public middle school and after a rocky start, she did fine finishing up the rest of her education in the public school. But the high self esteem she had acquired earlier, as well as her intelligence and general sociability got her through.
My middle girl didn't fair as well when she went to the public middle school. She is more of a loner, doesn't wear the "right" clothes, and also has some language learning disabilities. For her, 7th and 8th grade was a nightmare. Thankfully, we found an excellent private high school for kids with LLD and that has restored her self-esteem. She's a senior now and has been a leader to many of the other kids which is something we never expected!
My son hasn't had to deal with public school as he went to the Montessori like his sisters through 6th grade, and like magic when we were trying to figure out what to do with him for middle school, we learned of a new charter school a few towns away that was perfect for him as it was an "Advanced Math and Science Academy." He's been a math "genius" since he was a baby, so this school was an amazing blessing for us -- and because it's a charter school -- free! I'm so glad he didn't have to go to the public school because he has low vision and I would be afraid it could be problematic at a traditional school.
I learn so much from my kids each and every day, even when they were very little. Who knew?