Public education is often looked down upon, but the quality varies from school to school. While I have no experience with Mexican public education, my understanding is that students are placed at schools based on academic ability, not on location. So, if a child scores very high on their exam but the school for high scoring children is on the other side of the city, the child must travel back and forth across the city each day.
The quality of private schools varies as much as that of public schools, but they often put forth a good image and can transfer their status to the students and their families. At times, the image may be all that you are paying for. My recommendation would be to tour the school looking for things such as resources (classroom libraries and supplies), technology (computer labs and smart boards or suitable alternatives), classroom size (ideal is less than 20 students, anything more than that would worry me if it is a bilingual school or there is no assistant), and condition of the buildings (well maintained, functional, safe). See if they will let you sit in on a class, ask to see student work samples,and find out if you could speak with a student ambassador. Ask about things such as standardized test scores, accreditation, and teacher turnover rate. Find out what they offer beyond the classroom, such as auditoriums, festivals, field trips, cafeteria, doctor/nurse, counselors, library, extra-curricular activities, etc. Private schools will do their best to make themselves look better than others because they need tuition in order to operate; it is important that you try to dig beyond the information and image that they present to you. If there is anything special you need for your child–or if something not all that special is really important to you–I would try to get it put in the contract so that you have recourse if they do not follow through on their promises.
There are a growing number of homeschooling families in Mexico. I am highly unfamiliar with what rules Mexico has regarding homeschooling. I do know that if you select this option, there are many online resources available to you. I recommend looking into packaged curriculum and joining teacher forums to obtain free resources/ideas. Pinterest has a large community of teachers and home-schooling parents, so it is something to keep in mind.
Both public and private schools require uniforms. You can usually buy these from the school, but oftentimes they are cheaper at stores specializing in uniforms. In general, uniform stores carry the uniforms of the schools nearest to them. In general, schools do not provide transportation, but this can be hired out on an individual or group basis. Most schools, even private schools, follow the SEP calendar; this is usually not posted until late July.
Questions for my Readers
Do you have school-aged children in Mexico? What did you choose for their schooling? Why?
Have you ever taught at a school in Mexico? What advice would you give to parents selecting a school for their children?
Are there many bi-lingual options where you live?