Public versus Private Schools

Your tax dollars help support public schools, but do these schools provide your child with the best education? It appears that ninety percent of American parents think so, since that figure represents the number of children enrolled in the public school system. In a 2002 survey, it was found that only 24 percent of US schools are fee-based, private schools.

If you're wondering if your child might be better off in a private school, there are certain factors you'll want to take into consideration. The major issues to examine include:

Academic reputation



Religious or moral instruction

Reputation as a safe environment for children

School and class size

College preparation

Special programs of particular interest


Academic reputation can vary in great measure from school to school. The zoning district in which you live determines the public school your child must attend. If that school is performing under the bar, this is a significant reason for parents to consider an alternative system of education for their child. There may be a specific issue associated with this public school that gives cause for concern, such as the prevalence of drug use or violence among students. Such reasons are often the precursor for a parental decision to pay for their child's education in a private school.

You may also want to consider how many children in a given public school go on to a university education. If college preparation is a focus in your local public school, this may be reason enough to stick with the system.

Small Classes, More Attention

When the student population in a public school grows unwieldy, some kids can fall through the cracks. On the other hand, small schools don't always have the funds to support special programs. Still, the smaller the classroom, the more attention each student receives.

Private schools can pick and choose students and this can have a positive effect on school safety.

Public schools need to serve a general population rather than those with special gifts or deficits. As a result, funds are not often diverted to programs that benefit specific or unusual children. Private schools, on the other hand, often have a specific focus, for instance, programs for gifted children, or an emphasis on the arts. Private schools can also offer a specific moral or religious slant, offer single-sexed classes, or military training. Sometimes private schools offer boarding which may be an advantage for certain students and their families.

Of course, cost is an important factor and a major reason most parents choose public schools.

If the public school in your zoning district is not your cup of tea, you may want to consider which option is more cost effective: moving to a different zone, or paying out the nose for private schooling.

Elitist Attitude?

When cost is not an issue, some parents still choose public school out of a sense that such schooling teaches an elitist attitude or out of a sense that public school is an American institution that has earned our respect and support.

Login to comment

Post a comment