The debate of whether a private education is a cut above public schooling has sparked many a heated discussion. Reputation has cemented the status of private schools in the academic community, but public school advocates argue that private schools lack diversity. Dialogues concerning public versus private schooling explore issues like cost, quality of education and admissions. In the end, every parent wants to provide their child with the best possible learning environment, but economic constraints are forcing parents to reconsider expensive private educations.
Cost ranks among the top reasons parents today dismiss the idea of a private education. The economy is unpredictable, and families have to create manageable budgets. A free public education includes benefits like transportation for students, but public schools are becoming underfunded. Specialized programs that once set public schools apart from private institutions are being cut from the budget as elected officials find ways to trim costs.
In contrast, private schools generate their own funding giving them independence from the whims of politicians and regulations imposed by the government. Two potential downsides of this freedom, high tuition and uncertified teachers both result from, well, the privacy of private schools. More often than not, instructors at private institutions are overqualified for their positions boasting graduate degrees and prestigious awards, but there have been a few instances of private schools hiring unqualified teachers.
Arguably, the overall quality of education at public institutions is on par with that of private schools. Both public and private school educators invest in their students and make efforts to assure student success. On average, private school students test slightly higher than public school students, a direct result of better funding and selective admissions processes, however there are public schools that have excellent test scores as well.
As a product of the public school system, at the end of the day I think a public school education is sufficient, but it cannot afford children the same opportunities as private schooling. Children, especially in the kindergarten thru 12th grade age range, need personal attention only possible in smaller classes. With public schools suffering classroom overcrowding, parents must consider whether smaller class sizes will give their children an edge over comparable public school students and if that edge warrants paying private tuition prices.
Each individual has their own opinion about the private versus public schools argument, and though I sometimes wonder if a private education would have made all the difference in my life, I know my parents did right by me when deciding to enroll me in public schools. The bottom line is that a student with good work ethic and supportive parents will succeed regardless of the schools they attend.
National Assessment of Educational Progress, “Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling”. National Center for Education Statistics.
Paul E. Peterson and Elena Llaudet, “On the Public-Private School Achievement Debate”. Harvard University.