Reading Freakonomics taught me that although two events may appear to be linked, they don’t necessarily share a cause and effect relationship. For example, let’s say a 17-year-old boy is forced to find a new place to live after his parents kick him out. Over the course of the next six years the young man finds himself in jail three times and on probation for the next 9 months. He is involved with alcohol and drugs and is unemployed. Some may point to the parents and say, “all of this happened because you kicked your son out.” However, this is said with the idea that the bad behavior is the effect and the expulsion is the cause. Then I add more details to the story; the son was kicked out of his house because he came home high, physically assaulted his younger sister and landed her in the hospital. Now the ‘effect’ is the cause and the ’cause’ is the effect. A similar phenomenon occurs when we take a look at private schooling.
A study released by the Center on Education Policy in 2006 questions the intrinsic idea that something that costs more yields more favorable results. The study indicates that once you control for socioeconomic status students at private schools perform about equal to those at public schools. It states that, “Instead, it appears that private schools simply have higher percentages of students who would perform well in any environment based on their previous performance and background.” This means that without accounting for student backgrounds, private schools outperform public schools simply because they attract high-performing students. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the average annual tuition for private day schools affiliated with NAIS is $17,441, whereas the tuition to public school is free unless you live outside the district. $17,000 per year is a high price to pay for an equal education.
However, when it comes down to making a decision in the real world, one cannot just call upon studies. The choice to send your child to a public or private schools depends more so on the individual needs of the child and the schools’ abilities to meet those needs.
When I was a sophomore I decided to look at a nearby private high school because I was constantly unimpressed with the classes offered at my public high school and the peers that I came into contact to. They even offered to bypass the entrance exams because of my exemplary grades! I sat down with the dean and took a tour of the facilities. To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed. I found that the classrooms and the science labs were much newer and state of the art in my public school than at this expensive private school. I even found myself feeling uncomfortable when talking with the teachers because they were incredibly stuffy.
Needless to say I chose public over private. What will you decide?