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Private versus public

Some differences between public and private schools are obvious. But deciding what's right for your child entails shedding light on the subtle distinctions many parents ignore.

By GreatSchools Staff

Private versus public! It's a debate that rages across the playgrounds and living rooms of America. In fact, according to a 2009 GreatSchools and Harris Interactive poll, nearly one in four parents are currently considering switching their child's school either from private to public or public to private as a result of the economy.

What's better for your youngster? How can you compare private and public schools when they seem so disparate? Is it like comparing apples and oranges — two different things that can't be fairly held to the same standards? 

As any parent who has toured both kinds of school knows, it's not always easy to answer these questions. Many people have a bias one way or another. Some assume that private schools offer superior everything, justifying their tuition costs. Others contend that public schools provide more real-life experiences or, in some cases, more-developed specialty programs in athletics or science. 

While this primer won't dare takes sides, it will touch on the most fundamental differences between public and private schools — as well as a few subtle distinctions that might make all the difference for your child.

The bottom line

The most obvious discrepancy between public and private schools comes down to cold, hard cash. The good news for parents is that public schools cannot charge tuition. The bad news is that public schools are complicated, often underfunded operations influenced by political winds and shortfalls. Financed through federal, state, and local taxes, public schools are part of a larger school system, which functions as a part of the government and must follow the rules and regulations set by politicians. 

In contrast, private schools must generate their own funding, which typically comes from a variety of sources: tuition; private grants; and fundraising from parents, alumni, and other community members. (Ever wonder why private schools celebrate Grandparent's Day and public schools don't?) If the school is associated with a religious group, the local branch may provide an important source of funding as well. 

For parents this quickly translates into the bad news: high tuition costs and sometimes an exhausting work calendar of parent-sponsored fundraisers. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the median tuition for their member private day schools in 2008-2009 in the United States was $17,441. Tuition for boarding schools was close to $37,017. (Of the 28,384 private schools in the United States, about 1,050 are affiliated with the NAIS. Average tuition for nonmember schools is substantially less: Day schools charge $10,841 and boarding schools $23,448.) 

Parochial schools are even more affordable. The National Catholic Educational Association reports that the mean tuition for parish elementary schools is $2,607 and $6,906 for the freshman year of secondary school. (Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI!)

The potential benefits of private schools accrue from their independence. Private schools do not receive tax revenues, so they do not have to follow the same sorts of regulations and bureaucratic processes that govern (and sometimes hinder) public schools. This allows many private schools to be highly specialized, offering differentiated learning, advanced curriculum, or programs geared toward specific religious beliefs. There are exceptions to such generalizations — charter and magnet schools are increasingly common public schools that often have a special educational focus or theme.

The admissions game

Another obvious distinction between public and private schools results from their respective admissions procedures. By law, public schools must accept all children. In many cases, enrolling your child involves little more than filling out a few forms and providing proof of your address to the local school district office. In practice, however, getting your child into the public school of his or her choice can be much more complicated. 

Because not all public schools have resources for helping students with special needs, enrolling a child with a learning disability or other disorder may entail a more complex process. Similarly, in school districts with "school choice" policies, the procedure for finding a public school may require that parents enter a lottery to gain admission for their child into their top pick. Finally, at the high school level, many districts in larger metropolitan areas offer special schools with competitive enrollment based on students' GPAs or artistic portfolios. 

Private schools, by their very definition, are selective. They are not obligated to accept every child, so getting admitted may involve in-depth applications with multiple interviews, essays, and testing. Because private schools define the identity of their communities, they often pick and choose between candidates based not only on their scholastic achievement but also their ethnicity and religious background — as well as the special attributes (or assets) of their parents. 

Teachers, curriculum, and class size

While most people assume that teachers at private schools are as qualified as those at public ones, it's important to note that all teachers in a public school are usually state certified or, at a minimum, working toward certification. Certification ensures that a teacher has gone through the training required by the state, which includes student teaching and course work. Teachers in private schools may not be required to have certification. Instead, they often have subject-area expertise and an undergraduate or graduate degree in the subject they teach.

There's a similar discrepancy between curriculum development in private and public schools. Public schools must follow state guidelines that set out specific standards and assessment procedures. In theory, this creates a certain amount of quality control. Private schools, on the other hand, can choose whatever curriculum and assessment model they wish. This freedom to design their own curriculum or avoid standardized tests can result in higher standards for students — or lower.

Many states recognize the value of small classes and have provided funding to keep class sizes small in grades K-3. As students advance to higher grades, class size tends to get bigger in public schools, especially in large school districts and urban schools.

While many private schools provide small classes with low student-to-teacher ratios, there is no guarantee that such schools will keep their class size below a certain level. Some private schools — Catholic ones, in particular — traditionally have larger classes than public schools.

Special needs

Due to special education laws, public schools must educate all children and provide the necessary programs to meet their special needs. This means that all school districts have special education programs and teachers who are trained to work with special-needs students.

Private schools do not have to accept children with special needs, and many choose not to (although there are a small number of private schools designed for special-needs children). As a result, most private schools do not have special education programs or teachers trained to work with that student population. Some private schools will try to help all the students they admit, but extra resources may come at an additional cost. Other private schools practice something called "counseling out" — recommending that children with learning disabilities look elsewhere for a school.

How do you know what's right for your child?

Don't rely on hearsay and rumor when it comes to deciding between private and public. Visit the schools and ask the teachers lots of questions. Read school profiles on GreatSchools. At the end of the day, the best school for your child is a highly personal decision based on your family; your values; and, most important, the special needs, idiosyncrasies, and interests of your kid. Let the debate rage on, but don't forget about the one person for whom this decision is far more than sandbox banter.

Testing, testing!

Private school students typically score higher than public school students on standardized tests, but a 2006 study (pdf) by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which took into account students' backgrounds, told a different story.

Public school students in fourth and eighth grade scored almost as well or better than their private school peers in reading and math, except that private school students excelled in eighth-grade reading.

A Harvard University study (pdf) challenged the results, using the same data but different methods. Researchers found that private schools came out ahead in 11 of 12 comparisons of students.

Earlier in 2006, an analysis of math scores by two University of Illinois researchers found similar results to the NCES study. "Charter, Private, Public Schools and Academic Achievement" (pdf) states that "after accounting for the fact that private schools serve more advantaged populations, public schools perform remarkably well, often outscoring private and charter schools."

But as this dissenting view from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's Education Gadfly newsletter shows, the debate over which kind of school does a better job is far from settled.

Comments from readers

"I just pulled my child out of an expensive NAIS affiliated private school. I expected a boutique education for my child when I signed him up and paid the hefty tuition. Instead, my son spent a full year in school where the teachers (yes, two teachers for 20 children) did not know him. All they did was grade his worksheets that were geared to the private school standardized testing program. I expected more from NAIS than what my son received. NAIS should be embarrassed. **Note to public school teachers--Want an easy job where you have a low student:teacher ratio and another adult in the classroom to socialize with, instead of teach? Get a job in a private school! Parents are so type A that the teaching will happen at home! All you have to do is send home the worksheets! "
"I went to a private school for eleven years then after graduating middle school went to a public high school I got all A's my freshman year and almost never had home work it was ridiculosly easy in the private school I went to the teachers were good at their jobs with a few exeptions (my eighth grade math teacher had to be convinced 5*3=15 was correct but that was really my only complaint exept most of them were very strict and hated me) I did ok at private school I passed with a's b's and a few c's. If you want your child to have a great education private is the way to go but they will almost certainly be miserable there. "
"I know there have been debates on whether private or public schools are better, and personally, as I read somewhere too, can't remember where, I think that a lot of how well a child does in school doesn't even matter as much as to what kind of school a child goes to. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. Parents who are involved in their children and their education more than likely will have children who are more successful in school than children whose parents are not involved in their education. Of course, you don't want to be a helicopter parent either, but it is crucial that parents are involved too. In the state that I live in we do have open enrollment, so if a parent does not like the school district that his or her son or daughter is assigned to, then the parent can enroll him or her in another district through open enrollment. I did student teach at a religious school too and have worked a little in a public school. Personally, the one thing I like better about private schools are that the classes are typically smaller so it is easier to get to know teachers and students. But the private school didn't offer as many things as the public school did, such as specialists, like Spanish, media/library, music etc. There were so many more resources that the public school offered than the private school, and also, I thought the kids got exposed to a lot more diversity in the public school. In the real world, not everyone follows the Christian faith, like in the Christian school that I student taught at, not everyone has money or is white, which is what predominantly what the students were at the school I student taught at. You do see more of the real world in the public school. But back to what I said earlier on how private schools don’t seem to offer as many resources; I have to say that many don’t, b! ut there may be plenty that do. The one I student taught at was really small, and so it probably wouldn’t have had as much as opposed to a bigger private school and this is probably even true with public schools. The bigger the school, the more choices and resources it will probably have in part because there will be more kids, but this may not always be the case (there are exceptions with almost anything). But no matter what kind of school it is, I don’t think there is one school, public or private, that has enough money to pay for everything. Every school would want or need more money to pay for whatever it is that they would need. And as for the teachers in public or private, I have found teachers at both the public and private schools who have really enjoyed teaching as well as some who didn’t care for it as much. Don’t stereotype saying how all teachers are just there for the paychecks, when they don’t get paid much already, whether in a private or public setting, though at the public setting they do get many more benefits. Some teachers are like this, but most people in the education field I think really do care about their students, and I have come upon teachers in both settings that really do care about the profession they are in. "
"I attended public school until high school, and am currently at a private preparatory school. In public school, the curriculum was way too easy. The teachers simply taught for the money. Academic success was not valued as being a good thing, and sometimes I purposely did not perform to my full potential simply to fit in with my peers, who teased me for doing so well. Now at private school, I can say that I wish I had gone my entire life. I graduated as the 'valedictorian' of middle school, and I can say that I felt deprived of a good education going into private school. Public school does not teach any form of grammar and technicality when it comes to writing. They focus on 'individuality' and 'creativity'...two tools that foster themselves once the basics are taught. All I wrote in public schools was stories about my life or my imagination, and the skills I got from them I have rendered as being useless for the rest of my life. Another aspect of private school is the teache! rs. Unlike public school teachers, whom recieve a higher income, private school teachers teach for not the money, but the passion of teaching itself. The quality of the student, not the income, is the motivation for teaching at private school. Now in private school, I realize I will send my kids for a better education. "
"Semi Private/Public schools: If there were public schools that require tuition (about half of private schools), one in a school district; so that parents have choice to send children to the regular school in their area or to the one for-pay school (more teachers and resources with the tuition), the property values of the district will increase tremendously. Private schools are too expensive, and not all of them are as reliable as public schools. Public colleges require tuition. Why not elementary and secondary schools? "
"As much as we would like to be part of our local public schools - bringing together community - the student behavior often overlooked or unchallenged in the classroom is of great concern. Discipline of students was allowed in the 70s and 80s. Teachers are at the mercy of a larger group of unparented children, who seem to be parented - and poorly so - only when their child gets in trouble; these parents will not support the teachers or administration. This is disruptive to the classroom. In our own experience - 17 years of Catholic schools - discipline has not disappeared (although the rulers have been put to rest) and students know their place. Dress codes and the understanding of active discipline, together with a high percentage of involved parents (we have to be active in Catholic schools to keeps costs down and keep our schools running), have been the basis of Catholic school success. First and foremost, however, these principles are inspired by the words of the Bibl! e, and further inspired through our Pope and priests, administration and staff. This is the strength of our schools. We rely on no moral direction from an immoral government. As a member of the community where I once attended school, it is sad to witness and hear of the huge difference in public schools then and public schools now. As always, I encourage prayer for each community as the schools demand more money from taxpayers who cannot afford higher taxes and for the teachers who have to deal with parents who do not support them. "
"I am doing a debate at school and most of this information was pretty helpful but I'd reall like it if you could send me some more information about the negative traits of private schools. The topic of our debate is should there be only private schools and I am on the negative side. Thank you. :) "
"do people in private schools get better grades than people who go to a public school? "
"You should put more on the contrast than just the cost "
"sweet "
"My mom taught me until I was in third grade, at which point I was sent to a private school. Now I am a junior, and i have been at that same private Christian school with the exception of a month of my freshman year, which had to be spent at the nearest public school for financial reasons. When i came back after the brief time i was at public school, i felt like i was coming home. I do not want to make the generalization that all private schools are better than public; some public schools may be better than some private schools. But overall i think the results are pretty similar. Obviously, as my situation proves, not everybody who goes to a private school has loads of money. And those in my school who do have money don't flaunt it. I feel prepared, and my school has graduated students come back and talk about their college experience - none have come out unprepared. I am comfortable with all my teachers, and i know that all my teachers care deeply about their students gaining understanding. When it comes to being sheltered, i think that depends on the parents and the students situation outside school - i have several friends in both categories. And i agree with whoever said that you don't need to experience bad things to be able to handle them (although awareness is good). I have never had drugs, alcohol, sex, etc, but that does not mean i freak ou! t when i see homosexuals or drunks. I would like to mention that I believe a key reason my private school does not have the problems many of the pro-public schoolers have mentioned is because it is a Christian private school, not just a regular school, so obedience, respect, etc are severely enforced (not that all regular private schools ignore them). Finally, I have to admit growing tired of hearing the Bible, but that is a personal sin issue, and i find that when times get tough, I remember what I was taught. "
"I go to a small Catholic school and it is probably less disciplined than most public schools in my area. For the people saying that public schools don't address the needs of more gifted students, take a look at my school. You can turn your projects and homework in three weeks late and get the same amount of credit as everyone else who worked hard to get it completed in the small amount of time. Catholic schools are more disciplined? What a joke. You can choke someone and the only consequence you will receive is praying and holding hands with the principal. I can say that private school kids are a lot more immature than public school kids. The people in my class were so immature I had to skip 4th and 7th grade. If anything, private schools are worse for religious awakening than public schools. Gets kind of old after you hear all the lies they tell you. Don't get me wrong, I believe in Jesus, but don't most people at private schools? Telling someone something they've heard sin! ce they were born doesn't do any good. I plan on transferring to a public high school next year and retaking 10th grade. "
"this is exactly what my essay is about thanks "
"I love St. Paul School because of the enrichment programs- such as Art, Music, Spanish and French for 7 and 8 grades, free montly art workshops. Safety and ability for kids to feel good about who they are. "
"One careful thing about private(or prestigious public) schools is that they often feel a need to convince students that "since you go here, the next level will be a breeze", when that's often not the case. I graduated from a private high school convinced that UC Berkeley would be easier than high school, since I would only have to be completing with public school students. Boy was I wrong! I was at least a year behind most of my classmates in math, totally overwhelmed by the dorm social drama with the drugs and drunkenness, etc. Many of my classmates thought I must be unbelievably stupid because I did not take calculus in high school(or at least at night school in community college), something I was repeatedly discouraged by my school from doing. I graduated from private high school with a 4.1, but my 1st semester college gpa was a 1.7 and 2nd semester was a 3.0. By that point I'd screwed up my transcript and couldn't easily switch majors, so I withdrew, fixed my transcript ! in community college, then transferred to another university. Since graduating, my life has been more or less like it would have been if I'd stayed at Berkeley. My point: The courses your kid is enrolled in are far more academically important than the school they attend. The same people who are kids in school will be adults in college and the working world. Which one works for you depends on your situation, but either way, don't be overconfident. "
"this was really helpful for my essay!!!!!!!!! "
"Just depends on your area. I grew up in New Lenox, IL and the public school are known nationally for their high rank in academics and sports. I had a wonderful experience till high school when the main problem was overcrowding while they built more schools. Now, my husband and I live in a neighboring city that has a lack-luster public school system, so our children will attend the local Catholic school. I am very excited to witness the differences for myself, but I have high hopes due to the popularity of the school and their overall performance every year in academics and within the community. "
"I attended a private high school for all of my years except my senior year. I'd been asking my parents to let me attend the public high school "because that's where all my friends were going.." They let me go my senior year. On my first day of enrollment at the public school, they looked at my transcript and said, "You've already met all of our requirements. You can graduate today." Thus, now 43 with 3 kids of my own, I'll be keeping them in private school. "
"I have had experience with both Charter and private religious schools and I very much disagree that the private with more up-to date with curriculum. Charter schools are much more innovative and current while Catholic elementary and very much stuck in the past. Private schools are terrible places for children with special needs at least in the elementary level. Also, I experience a number of horrible teachers in private and when your child is not succeeding, private schools are very much unwilling to help and just want to blame the child and not look at what they might be doing wrong. "
" I love what i see here. How could you come up with this? Are you an expert in those kind of things or just so fascinated that you were able to compile this? I'm amazed. "
"I have read the above article and many parents responses to it. my husband and I grew up in Philadelphia and attended all Catholic schools from beginning to end. I even went to a catholic college. I believe in Philly, Catholic schools are the best option. Having said that, I now have three children of my own...elementary level, middle school, and high school. all attend public schools in NJ. I initially was satisfied with the education they were receiving and they would get good grades but when the N ASk (standardized test) would come back. they were below proficient in some major areas. This concerns me. How much weight should I place on these tests? I guess I am old school. when I was a kid, you had homework in every subject at night and the parents could actually see everything you were working on. Now my kids come home like 2 days a week saying they have no homework because they finished it in class or LGI(study hall). They also have work on their laptops. With all of th! is technology, the basic communication between teacher and family is lost. I know I need to change with the times but I want to know my children are receiving a good education. So lost, where do I go from here. I feel like a failure as a parent. should I have read more to my kids, place them in a more structured school, or both the older kids ae boys and they will eventually care and grow out of it. Please help, I need some guidance....good, bad or indifferent....anything will help :) "
"After reading this article i came to know well about american school system..The same problem in our indian education system is also about private versus public.Now indian government introduced right to education for every child. thanking you ravisekhar oddula "
"To the people saying that you save money for college by going to a public school, you also have to take into consideration that the majority of kids who went to a prestigious private school ended up receiving more academic scholarships than that of a public high school. I've gone to public and charter schools all of my life and the only reason i am at a higher level is because of AP courses that were offered. Next year i have to change to a private school is because all of the public high schools in my area lacking in education but i will also say that public school taught me how to be street smart. "
"I go to a Catholic High School. I've been in Catholic school my whole life. What a majority of the people here are saying is that public school is better because it's cheaper and all the benefits you receive. While that may be true, it all depends on what would help the student the most. If a public school environment would be more beneficial, send your child to public school. If catholic or private school is more beneficial, then send them to catholic or private school. One is not better than the other. It all depends on what is best for your child. "
"I am an 11th grader at a catholic high school in NJ. I had gone to public school from pre school until the 8th grade. There are a few things that I have noticed between the people that have gone to catholic grammar and middle schools vs. Public. The kids who went to catholic school are unbelievably immature, I mean it's to the point that is is hard having a conversation with them because they have the maturity of someone half their age. At my school about half of the students arefrom public and the other half private/ catholic. In my grade comparing the two would be like comparing 1st graders to 6th graders. In this case the public school kids are the kids that are into drinking and smoking pot. This does not necessarily mean that private school kids will not. Since public school kids have been slowly exposed to drinking and pot so they could ease into it. But the private school kids are suddenly exposed to all of this in a very short amount of time. I have seen first hand w! hat happens when the private school kids are suddenly exposed to the real world. They "snap". Although some will remain good kids, a majority of them will snap. And after only a few months of being exposed to the "real world" some of the private school graduate to pills and worse... That is why I recommend sending kids to public elementary and middle schools. For my area the catholic schools are pretty much the same as public high schools. It's all about exposure to the real world and in my opinion private schools shelter kids from the real world. And when you have sudden exposure there is bound to be problems. "
"Public Schools are just always gonna teach you better things!!! The public schools are just way better then Private Schools!! That is just my opinion. You also make more money if you teach at a Public School!!! You also save for your child 2 go 2 college. And private does not have a teacher that comes 2 your house when your to sick to go to school. They don't even have some special teacher that comes to your house it's called Home bound. Don't go to Private go to Public!!! "
"Private school teachers do not have to have as high of a credential as public school teachers. Private school teachers are more pressured to pass their students because their parents are paying a lot of money for them to go their! "
"I am currently attending a public high school and I am in the tenth grade. I do not see a problem with academics at my school. They are not that easy when you come down to it. I have a friend who goes to a private school and I end up teaching her a lot of things. Shouldn't it be the other way around if she is the one going to a private school? I think that says something about public schools; not all of them are underfunded, underprivileged schools like a lot of people think. However, when it comes down to it, the parents get to decide where their kids get an education. If they want to pay more for a private education, then so be it. "
"I went to private school K-8th grade and then switched to an A+ public school. I was being taught in 9th grade in public school what I had already been taught in 6th grade in private school. And, it continued the same way throughout the rest of high school. To the post 10/31/2011 - public school teachers are the ones who are more more likely to pass students who shouldn't be because their jobs and raises depend on their performance. Look at the Georgia situation. Private schools don't have that government involvement. "
"Ok this is driving me bonkers. The word is spelled 'private', not 'privet.' "
"I think there should be no such thing as private schools. In private schools, it's all about money which could make people do unpredictable things, such as passing a student although they rarely attended classes, and failed the actual course. In Toronto Collegiate Institute(TCI), the teachers passed a lot of their students even though they didn't meet the requirements that were needed to pass. Also public schools are much better because then everyone gets a fair and a equal chance of passing the course, and there won't really be teachers secretly passing students, since they're not getting additional money for teaching. "
"Private schools show more advantages than public schools. "
"we can all like different stuff Public Private or anything else it's our decision no reason to fight over a silly thing is what i'm saying!!! We can like whatever school we like!!! I like Public School most!!! But go ahead and like private better does not matter!!! "
"Private schools are not for everyone. Different families have different priorities. It does become expensive to have children in the private system, but unless it is financially impossible for a family to send their children to it; the private schools offer a better choice, both academically and socially. It is NOT about sheltering the children from the "real world" It is actually quite the opposite. It is about ensuring our children experience at school a similar social model than they do at home. Having a high or even low level of exposure to children with behavioral problems and whose families might even be dealing with some addictions and possible aggression issues, does NOT enrich their life experience. When it comes to children, it is all about setting examples. They will learn trough experience both at home and at school; and they will grow up to live and work within the same social standards than they did while growing up. "
"I have been in public school my whole entire life. Currently, I am in ninth grade. We are currently searching for a prestigious private high school for me to attend next year because the curriculum at our school is too easy, and heavily biased towards athletics, in which I am terrible. This shocked me because, our school is one of the best and richest in the state. My classes have about 31 students in each, and this will not decrease as I move up. The students are not motivated into any extra curricular, I would find myself as the only freshman at certain team meetings. I really hope I get accepting into one of the schools I apply to. "
"Public is so much better you save money!!! The teachers might be just as nice!!! you even save more money to go 2 college!!! Teachers come to peoples houses if they are 2 sick to work also but thats only in the public school system!!! Don't be fooled go to public school!!! "
"private schools r for people who want to learn learn and learn public schools give children a look into the real world and are way more relaxed and not as strict!my family have money and i got places in 2 different private schools but went to the public one and if i had the choice to move to a private one i wouldnt because i have friends and also wouldnt want to be around snobs all day!!! "
"I found this article to be "spot on" concerning it is the parents' job to assess their educational options considering their children's needs, and finances to do the best they can by their children. Public or private...where will your child have the best opportunity to succeed and receive a solid education? That answer will vary for each child and each school system. I'm a product of the public school system all the way through college. My spouse was a product of the parochial school system through college. We've both been successful in reaching our life goals so far, so no clear answer on what's best in this family. Our children are fortunate to live in a strong public school district, so going private wasn't as big a factor because it didn't present best value for our area after weighing all the variables of class size, our children's learning needs, etc. With one child now in college and one still in high school, we are very satisfied with our choice and are please with their progress. If we had lived in a different area with a weaker school system or if our children needed a different educational environment, we would have chosen differently. In the end, it all really comes down to doing what's best for your own child. For those who are struggling with this situation, I wish you the best and encourage you not to give up. "
" I think private schools are much better from public schools. Private schools provide an exceptional tutoring program for educating the students. The private academies have various education educational programs and courses for the scholars. "
"The relevant question is "which public school, which private school?". If you have a specific need - an IEP or special Ed - then most public schools offer incomparable advantages. I have two children, now both in high school, who have fared well in the public school environment. It is a huge school, so the opportunities for AP and honors classes are vast. Now I have a third child, entering fifth grade. There will be 28 kids in his class this year. He has been bullied, as has a number of his classmates. He is sailing through academically with very little effort on his part. He is not thriving. He has asked me if he can go to a private school. This particular school has 17 kids in a class. The curriculum is challenging, but not overwhelming. There is a school code that outlines the students rights as well as each students responsibility to his peers, his teachers, his community. A uniform eliminates social hierarchy based on who has the coolest (read, most expensive) cl! othes. For this child, at this time, at this school, private school offers him an opportunity to excel with confidence. For my older two, public school is the answer. Know your child, know your school. "
"Public schools are always gonna be better then private schools!!! Private schools don't have special education teachers to help out children when they need help you also save money if you go 2 a public school I promise you public is number 1 The special education teachers are teachers that go to teach students at there homes when they are 2 sick 2 work thats only in the public school setting private schools don't care!!! "
"My child has been in public then private for two years and now back in public. Want I have found is private schools are not up to standard regarding curricula. In making a decision to continue private school vs returning to public, I compared curricula and found the private school didn't have a written curricula. I didn't know what the standards or objectives were for her grade level. There was a curricula for public school which allowed me to hold the teacher accountable to teach the material but also myself to help my daughter and also "teach" her. Because of our experience with both private and public schools. We will never leave it up to schools to totally educate our children and very close to homeschooling. I feel if I'm paying money to send my child to a private school when my taxes pays for her to go to public, the least a private school can do is have a curricula I can compare with public. Show me how your curricula is more challenging and rigorous than a public sch! ool education. I'm not seeing it. "
"I work for a public school district and I am in and out of all of the schools and classrooms on a daily basis. I have two children enrolled in this same district. I have found that public school offers the bare minimum to children who are mastering subjects quickly and excel in all subjects. They are basicall ignored if they aren't falling behind. Most of the resources in a public school go to helping students who are below grade level and struggling. There are at least two paraprofessionals in each of my daughters middle school classes who are assigned to help those students who are struggling yet there is only one gifted instructor for the entire district. If you have a children who excell in school I would highly recommend private school. If your child gets A's without ever having to try, or study college will be a difficult transition no matter how gifted they are. "
"I agree, this article is favoring public schools. I have experience with both public and private. My son has autism and was in a SDC class up until kindergarten when he was main streamed. Honestly, without a IEP in a public school your child will get nothing. I requested a speech evaluations mid year for my son since it had been 6 months since he had any kind of speech or occupational therapy, and I had worked in his class and noticed that a lot of the kids where more advanced. I started to worry contacted the speech therapist which was a joke then the principal who did nothing and finally the district who also did nothing. So, I wasn't going to sit around and let my son fall through the cracks (like so many kids do now). I found a private school that was amazing my son is a total different child. He got the one on one that he needed the smaller class size so it wasn't so overwhelming for him. I'm not rich but I love my kids and I will fight and do whatever it takes to get ! them what they need. To the teacher that works at the private school you are so lucky you don't have a mother like me to deal with. I have 4 wonderful kids and they are all different. This is my 1st year dealing with a private school and I wish I would have known then what I know now. "
"The truth is that this article takes the public school side, without a question, which is fine, but I wanted to point it out. In my opinion, the first, most important issue to consider when comparing private vs public schools is not the cost but the environment in which your child will be in for most of his/her days, for about 13+ years of their formation. The education environment is a huge factor in how kids will turn out, and a private or home school gives a greater control to the parent. Kids learn by observing people around them - adults do too, but we've learned a lot by the time we are parents and I like to think we are wiser than we were years back. I could write for hours on the subject, but I think I made my point. The money is to some degree irrelevant when considering my children's education."
"At my Catholic school, we attend Mass every week. We pray three times a day, and our Catholic faith is stressed in every subject, not just in Religion. In eighth grade English, we use a tenth grade textbook. My mother attended the same school, and I, a fourteen-year-old eighth grader, can teach her religion . . . in depth! This is because of my teacher who graduated from Columbia University/Barnard College. This teacher is also a wonder singer and guitarist who teaches choir, is adviser of the National Junior Honor Society (which I am president of), and also is the music coordinator at another Church. We offer Band, French, Choir, Art, and Applied Science as electives. Band is rare in our diocese as we are one out of two schools to have it. Hardly any school in the area offers French, not to mention that by eighth grade students can translate it to English, even though it is only their second year. Graduates from my school go to Nortre Dame, Stanford, etc. The success rate is high, and most of our 2011 graduates will continue on to one of the two area Catholic high schools. Neither I nor my mother would ever consider public school. I do wish to make one point: None of us our rich, and some of us have to make several sacrifices or acquire scholarships."
" I go to a public middle school. I like it, but it's no smart farm. In my grade, there are five kids with a 4.0 GPA, myself included. I seem to be the only one with any manners in the hallway and the only one who still likes reading. The majority of my class is a bunch of immature boys who giggle at everything. I'm fine with this school, and with my future high school, but I wouldn't mind trying out private school."
"I can attest to the fact that private school was not the best option when I was a student. It did not help that the teacher took enjoyment at my expense, more than one time. The curriculum was outdated, most of the school books was mainly words, very few pictures to help along. It was the first time that I failed a grade. Thankfully, the principal allowed me to pass on probation due to my CAT scores (fifth grade to sixth grade). It was the only year that I attended a private school and I was miserable the entire time. Private school is a better option of some families, but for me, it is not financially the best option for my children."
"At the end of the day - it comes down to the results that the school achieves both academically, athletically, culturally, and all the areas that matter to you. It is high standards in these areas that make the difference. An example of a private school success story is Jesuit High School of Tampa. It's SAT scores, National Merit Finalists, numbers of scholarships etc. rank with some of the best schools in the country. It also has one of the best athletic programs in the state of Florida. And culturally - the school is rich in cultural tradition. An example of a public school success story is Bright Beginnings Charter School in Chandler, AZ. The academic standards are high - generally ahead of grade. The National Tests scores are within the top 15 - 20% in the country. All of this is achieved on a shoe-string budget with strong parental involvement. There is one thing both of these programs had in common - the ability to weed the student (plus parents) out if they did not meet the standards or expel them if they were a discipline problem. Again - results are key. Show me the results!"
"I teach at a private school. I would choose public school any day. My school is basically run by the parents. The reason the grades are better is because if a little Johnny doesn't do well on a test it is because he had a hectic schedule with football practice and his father (divorced parents) upset him or the material was not presented to him on level and he therefore needs to retake the test. Then of course the administration backs this and little Johnny is given a few more days to study and retake the test. If little Johnny forgets to turn in his homework for two weeks then he should still get full credit without penalty because the teacher is there to support him and not teach rules after all what would penalizing him teach him?"
"I think public schools are better, a middle school in my area in particular. At the end of my elementary school (end of 5th grade)my mother transfered me to go to a catholic school. i found my grades were lower, the teachers and staff were not as encouraging and helpful, and the school was not as well maintained. I know this is not for every school, but that is my argument for public schools."
"Public schools are a lot better teachers come to your house if they are 2 sick too work. Private schools just never do that!! They just stay in the classroom all the time!! The public school teachers do both!! You also save money and still learn!!! If you wanna save and go to college go to Public School!!"
"i love private schools....never been to or considering a public school education. I mean i am not dissing public schools as some of my BFF's go to them but i am just saying that a private school education is much more fulfilling and more rewarding than a public education. <3"
"truthfully i go to a private school and i am hatingit. i think im going to go public next year."
"'I attend a very highly regarded private school in the state of Ohio. We have not only some of the best grades in the state but also some of the top athletic programs. Our football team was even ranked 3rd in the nation to start the 09 season, and both our volleyball and baseball teams made state championship appearences last spring. Besides the greats sports and outstanding grades, I personally can't stand my school. I believe that private education is good for grades k-8, but not for high school. Also I blame my private/Catholic education for the lack of belief in Jesus i have lately obtained due to over exposure of the faith. In conclusion, I feel that private education is a waste of money and overrated."
"The authors basis in this article was extremely transparent. I went to K-8 public and 9-12 private. That is because my family moved from a great public school district to a horrible one. I agree with may people here - it depends on the district and the school. I would like to stress that private is not always for the privileged. My parents were blue collar workers and still put me in a private school. "
"I'm currently a junior at a public high school. I'm currently enrolled in the highest offered classes including some college level courses. I find them to be challenging enough and my teachers supportive. My teachers are able to interact with us as students while keeping a professional yet enjoyable class atmosphere. My school also offers lots of tech programs. I'm currently enrolled in an Allied Health program and will be graduating this year with my assistant nursing degree. In my opinion schooling all depends on what the kids and parents make of it. Anybody can get straight A's and enjoy learning if they try and have a positive attitude. All the problems that come with public schools don't have to do a lot with the schools themselves as much as the students in them. You could run into the same kind of kids at a private school that are in public schools. Long story short -- it all depends on your situation."
"Note how many of the advocates of private schooling can't capitalize for their life. Public schools are by far better than private schools, which are an outdated remnant of European aristocracy."
"I have had my child in both public, Catholic and private schools and the winner is ... public! Our public school system wins in every aspect that is important to my family - academically challenging (computer based learning that adjusts to a childs ability in both reading and math), character development (respect and resposibility), socially responsible (Kids whom are disruptive are given 'social training' and if this does not work they are referred out to a Special School District that is designed specifically for kids who need a different classroom environment), Plus a richer education in music and arts ... and an ethnically diverse student population. In public I found the principle and teaching staff to be highly professional and well trained, and the curriculum and teaching methods modern. Public school, in this area, is an incredibly pleasant surprise! "
"I reject the comment that just because you send your kids to private school it doesn't mean your wealthy you just want the best for your kids. Implying that sending them to public school means you dont want the best for them. It's an individual choice and different for each child and parent. People stop judging my public school rocks. "
"My daughter attended a small public school from pre-k until 8th grade and was not challenged in no way, shape, or form even though she tested with a high IQ as well as gifted and talented. The teachers would spend so much time trying to be friends with the trouble makers, so the trouble makers would leave the teachers alone, then the teachers did not have time to teach. There were times when a student would walk past my daughters desk and steal her pencil, when she would tell the teacher that Carlos took her pencil the teacher would reply that she didn't see him do it so nothing was done about it. This happened on a daily basis. She had to carry everything she had with her at all times, even just to turn her work in to keep the kids from stealing her stuff. This year she started at a private school, Vanguard College Preparatory School and it has been the best educational year of her life. She has learned so much and is being challenged in every aspect of learning. Vanguard n! ot only instills a higher level of learning in all of their students but a sense of caring about others with all of their community service projects that their students are involved in also. Their students definitely live the Rigor, Respect and Responsibility that is the schools motto. The students are the most kind, respectable, students I have ever been around. The head master and the teachers are the best in the state of Texas. And no it is not a school for just the rich kids as many seem to think. It has a diverse population of students who are all there for the same reason, to get a great education. Some of the students go on a scholarship and they are treated with as much kindness and dignity as those who pay full tuition. I know my child goes on a scholarship and she has never been happier than she is at Vanguard. So I say ALL parents if you can possibly get your child out of public schools do so as fast as you can so they have a chance at a brighter future. Public s! chools have become nothing but a baby sitting service for non-! caring parents to get their kids out of their hair for most of the day. Vanguard is a small private school that is HUGE on getting a GREAT education."
"We've done it all - public, private, gifted, homeschool, public school online (K12). There are pros and cons to each. It all depends on your kid, the school (whether public or private) and what is important to you. It is impossible to flat out say either public or private is better. One private school can be as different from another private school as it is from public school. I've seen private schools that do nothing more than public and some that have more problems than public. A school is as good as it's principal. Tour schools, sit in on classes and get a feel for the culture of the school and whether it seems to match your child and your expectations. I think it is most important for your child to be happy; they'll tend to look on education positively and get the most out it."
"The public schools in my area seem to have a lot more PTA invlovement as well as support from area residents. The private schools seem to be lacking parent involvement and are more limited in scope. I typically believed private schools to be better, but have opened my eyes after moving into our community. I do realize this does not hold true in all areas. It comes down to interviewing parents who have kids that attend those schools as well as visiting the schools and checking out their ratings and stats. I used and The websites sometime contradicted each other, but both proved to be helpful and provided parent comments that helped us to make our decision to go public."
"I removed my son from Catholic school after third gr. so that I could pay for my daughter's Catholic H.S. My son was and still is happy I took him out. He enjoyed the math & science programs in an excellent elementary school we enrolled him. The school was excellent the programs & teachers were excellent. There was structure & discipline in the school. I'm not happy with his M.S which is housed inside a building with three H.S. He is however doing really well in his school work. I now regret not taking my daughter out of Cath. school also. I have however removed her this year (11th grd) & she had many fears about going into the P.S system. I made sure I found the 'Best' school for her and thank God it is one of the best small schools. She's doing excellent, enjoying Trig and science and is very happy where she is. She is also now able to apply for many of the programs that are open to ONLY public school children and I am overjoyed. As many said earlier in depends on the val! ues and morals you instill in your children that will determine how well they will do. I'm not knocking the Catholic schools, but there are much better programs and alternatives in the P.S. system. My kids are also doing well because I am a 'helicopter mom' - making sure I'm seen and active at the schools."
"As a kid, I went to a private religious school in grades K-8 and a public high school. When I went to public high school I noticed that the courses were much easier. I was enrolled in the highest classes the school offered and still got straight A's without much effort, and I didn't really feel challenged at all. Money aside, your child will probably get a better education and be challenged more at a private school than at a public school. In a private school, there is more of a chance for the students to get to know and be challenged by their teacher, whereas in high school I found myself extremely bored in all but one class (math) because the teachers had what I considered low expectations and additionally, much of the course work I did was repeated--during freshman year especially, all but one of the nine course books I had already done in the seventh or eighth grade. Personally, I think that if you really want your child to get a good education and be in a safer school private is the way to go."
"I went to a private school K-7, then I went to a public middle school and public high school. When I got to 8th grade at the public was a joke. The day flew by. The classes were ridiculous and the students were not controlled. Of course I was somewhat sheltered at the private school...but there were students in my class and other classes that were not 'good' kids at the private school also. Highschool at the public school...not strict...lazy teachers...lazy administration..well 85% of them. After attending both...I am trying my hardest to send my children to a private school. Smaller classes, clean appearances, being disrespectful is NOT tolerated etc. Private in my opinion is the way to go. Public schools need to make HUGE changes! And for the comments about 'never experiencing real life' don't have to experience sex, drugs, fights and no supervision to survive in the world. We need our kids to be kids. They need to be safe and protected in all ways."
"I have children that go to both. First off, the writer is wrong because they do have Grandparents day in public high school. Maybe not in all but this one does. My boys are in their senior year and honestly I don't see a difference in some of there friends who have gone to public school. I think it has a lot to do with the child too. You could be given the best education and if you are a slacker it does not matter. I do think that the private schools are a bit more stricter. But the drugs and the girls getting PG is the same. I am for either because what might work for one kid does not work for another. My son is only in the 3rd grade in public school and the work is just as tough or tougher than when my older boys were going to private 3rd grade. My one son who is in private catholic school is not doing so well in math all we get is saying he can't play sports for a time period. They never offer a tutor or help for him. The public school here when they see your kid struggli! ng they put them in a special clinic. So money does not always buy everything."
"I found this article kinda strange because at the start the writer was comparing and towards the end I felt they were kind of trying to say...PRIVATE SCHOOL IS GOOD BUT SEND YOUR KID TO PUBLIC SCHOOL BECAUSE ALL THESE STUDIES SAY SO....they said nothing about catholic school studies at all. I am a student and I go to private school. Honestly, I stopped by my friends school once and the kids scared me. I didn't like it. It looked out of control. I am not saying this is all public schools, just this one."
"in my opinion, both of them are good as there are some advantages and disadvantages regarding this topic. yeah you got what u paid for. it means that when if u pay high (private), then you can get a better environment of learning and way of living as a student. but that's not mean public school is not good, public helps us to adapt ourselves in real life. surrounded by people who in bad mannered and too socialized is the real life that we should know how to handle. if not, study hard to get enter to the first class because desire on studying is aroused with the excellent people around us."
"private school is more effective in the long term....i had to deal with public for 5 years and private is way better...i got to private now :)"
"People say that public schools don't challenge children enough? I go to a public school and the curriculum there is plenty challenging. Why? That is because I take AP, Advanced Honors, and Honors whenever possible. Also, by taking these, it is easier to weed out form having to see any bad kids. I also get plenty one on one whenever I need it! I love my school, and we always score higher on our writing assessments than the private schools in the area. I would suggest looking at the public schools in the area first, and looking at the Advanced Placement (you can also receive college credit for this) courses and Honors classes if you want your child challenged. "
"I'm a freshman in high school at a public school. I was in a private school since Kindergarten. If you are a parent, I recommend a private school. The concentration and focus requirements are more necessary. At the school that I go to now, I'm frustrated by the abundance of IDIOTS and SOPHOMORIC LUNATICS. It's extremely difficult to do the daily work. If I could just sit in the class, do the work, pay attention and learn, without any distractions or confusion, I would love school. But I ****ING HATE IT. The private school was much better. I have to spend 4 years in HELL!"
"Just because you send your kids to privet school dose not mean you are welthy it just means you want the best for your children...."
"If you can afford to send your child to private school, why wouldn't you? What expense is more important than their education? "
"I found this article interesting because I believe 'you get what you pay for' when you send your child to private school. But there are good public schools out there too. I went to both and I turned out fine. Parents just have to find that balance for their particular child..."
"I agree with the posting from 2/1/10. I am sorry that you missed out on your dream. Public school can be a great place to discover hidden talents. It was there that I discovered how musically and athletically gifted I was. I was also mentally gifted and placed in High Honors classes, but I believe this would have been revealed in private school as well. I agree that parents should listen closely to what their child desires. You may be able to find a happy median and a happier, well-rounded child with a bright future ahead of them."
"I think it depends on the kid, if you have a strong kid to go to Catholic school, it can be a good choice, if he wants to go to a cut throat environment, were 100% of the students graduate and go to college. Specially if he didn't attended the feeding Catholic school for that high school. I don't know about private schools or Catholic private schools, but I know there is a big difference. Failing is not an option, a kid starts getting low grades, his counselor will assign a tutor and they will figured out how to get the kid out of the woods. Some of these schools like my son's school have 50 or more state championships in their history, they are very serious about academics and extra curricular activities and they are kind of strong in the faith too, everything is a competition and everybody is trying to excel! they will found something for everybody, so no kid has to resource to piercing, tattoos or any other weird cloths to feel special! The kid who can't run the 100 flat ! in 10 seconds, can score in lacrosse from midfield or can score a field goal from the 50 yard line or has straight A's all honors, etc! Dress code is dress shirt and tie, this to create a discipline and get them ready for the corporate world, I'm OK with that. But is not all sunshine and rainbows! ethnic epithets and hateful comments are an everyday thing and public schools, as far as I know, have made an amazing job taking down the bulling and creating an environment of acceptance for all ethnic groups. If things get ugly, my son my transfer to the public high school, but so far, things are going really good, public schools is a very good plan 'B'. I want to apologize in advance for my grammar, I'm a first generation immigrant and English is not my first language, I had the opportunity to send my kids to Catholic schools, my son in high school has a 50% scholarship and we are all struggling at home! but we think the sacrifice is well worth! we don't grill rib eyes, we grill burgers and we don't go on vacations to Disney, we go family camping, but we have a lot of fun together as a family and we do the best we can for our kids."
"I find it quite concerning that nearly every comment I've read is leaning towards Private School, and there are multiple spelling or grammar errors in them. How can you argue that Private School is the best option for your child if you yourself are unable to use basic English skills? I went to Public School for my entire life, because my parents were unable to afford Private School. I was never in a gang, never ended up pregnant, and I have yet to become addicted to any drugs. Many of these arguments anger me, since I worked hard to get the grades I have on my report card, and the person who posted on 12/22/2009 is VERY wrong: I had a 93/100 average, and a solid 3.75 GPA. I don't know what Public Schools you're talking about, but in my experience, Public School is not a sheltered environment. What happens when a student who has only ever attended Private School goes out into the world? They're only ever interacted with people who also have enough money to go to a Private Sch! ool, and not the people in the real world. Private School are expensive, they shelter their students, and they don't prepare students for real life. "
"Privet school pose a much better way of living. By avoiding the chance of getting access to drugs, sex and gang activity. With a lower amount of children the chance of your child getting into something they shouldn't is lower."
"Public schools are alot better they care about kids with special needs thats only in the public school setting they go to other peoples houses 2 teach them private schools never do that they just stay there public teachers also stay there in the school when they need 2 special needs is called Homebound when you get 2 college they call it Homestudy if a teacher teaches u at home from a public school setting!!!! You also still save money!!"
"I agree with the article and comment from 11/18/09. Are there pros and cons to both? Yes. An much of it is relative to your situation as well. As stated, parents have to do their research and make an informed decision. In my personal experiences, I wanted private school for my son because the public school system where we were living was not that good. I looked into the privates schools, but as a single mom, I just simply could not afford it. My resources were very limited and I felt strained but decided that in spite of his circumstances, he deserved a good, solid education. So I did the best thing I could think of. After researching many, many towns and public school districts around the country, I found one with higher standards, quality curriculum and an overall above average report cards on a state and national scale. I gathered up enough money and relocated to that area. It was the best move I could have made. Not only does my child get a good education, but ther! e are many free and low cost activities to supplement his education. We frequent the libraries, free museums and multicultural events and activities around us. My son has a love for reading, literature and the arts. I also volunteer to the extent that I can as a single mom. I make my time emphasize heavily on this with his math and science classes at his school. We also talk about the history and current events of the worlds around us. My son also plays an organized sport through the local YMCA since it is based on income. We have to do the best by our children whether we choose private or public "
"I agree with the article and comment from 11/18/09. Are there pros and cons to both? Yes. And much of it is relative to your situation as well. As stated, parents have to do their research and make an informed decision. In my personal experiences, I wanted private school for my son because the public school system where we were living was not that good. I looked into the privates schools, but as a single mom, I just simply could not afford it. My resources were very limited and I felt strained but decided that in spite of his circumstances, he deserved a good, solid education. So I did the best thing I could think of. After researching many, many towns and public school districts around the country, I found one with higher standards, quality curriculum and an overall above average report cards on a state and national scale. I gathered up enough money and relocated to that area. It was the best move I could have made. Not only does my child get a good education, but the! re are many free and low cost activities to supplement his education. We frequent the libraries, free museums and multicultural events and activities around us. My son has a love for reading, literature and the arts. I also volunteer to the extent that I can as a single mom. I make my time emphasize heavily on this with his math and science classes at his school. We also talk about the history and current events of the worlds around us. My son also plays an organized sport through the local YMCA since it is based on income. We have to do the best by our children whether we choose private or public "