Schooling Yourself on Education Facts: Private Versus Public Schools

Parents everywhere are presented with a choice once their children get to begin their schooling. For many parents, the location and quality of the school are major factors that play into their education decisions, and some may even move to an area with better schools.

However, parents also have to choose between public and private schools. There are certain features of both that should be considered when choosing the type of school that’s best for your child, but to say one is undeniably better than the other might be reaching too far.

In fact, one recent study found that “the type of school has virtually no effect on academic attainment.”

While there are many who will contest that there is indeed a difference between the two, that wasn’t what the study was looking for. There are obvious differences between public and private schools — but of those differences, the children in both were relatively equal in academic ability.

Since the type of school has no effect on the level of academic achievement your child will attain, other contributing factors must be evaluated.

Private or Public

A large factor in choosing your child’s schooling is your religious beliefs, and whether or not you want the school to reflect that. Many parents choose to send their children to religiously affiliated private schools, or parochial schools, because they wish for their children to have early exposure to religion.

The desire for higher education after high school is another reason many parents consider private schools. Although the study found that there was no difference in the ability for academic attainability in both public and private school students, there is statistical evidence to support that private school grads choose are more likely to attend college than public school grads. Up to 95% of graduates from private high schools without religious affiliation choose to go on to attend a four-year institute, compared to only 49% of public school graduates.

Interaction with classmates is another facet that parents consider when choosing a school. While bullying is an unfortunate part of many schools, both private and public, private schools tend to have smaller class sizes which allow teachers to watch behavior more closely. When contemplating which type of school is better for parents worried about bullying, a private school may be able to regulate bullies more closely, but no school can promise to be 100% bully-free.

Cost is another primary reason why parents might choose public school over private school. Even though public schools have larger class sizes and a more rigid curriculum, they also don’t charge tuition. Private schools have expensive tuition fees, some of which can be as expensive as college tuition (more expensive, in some cases).

Private schools also tend to have stricter acceptance policies, whereas public schools will usually take all types of students. Most students who attend private schools have to be accepted into the program, and parents could potentially go through a few different schools before they find one that will accept their child.

Is Homeschooling a the Right Fit?

Of course, the public versus private school debate often ignores another educational option: homeschooling. While not all families will have the resources to educate their children at home, this can be an attractive option when parents are not comfortable with the public schools in their area. Whether they are worried about bullying, low academic standards, school safety, or some other issue, homeschooling allows parents to control the educational environment in a way that’s not possible at public or private schools.

Making the right choice for your child’s schooling isn’t easy, and nobody expects you to make the perfect decision. Finances change, people move, and children grow up. It’s important to consider all your options, however, and make a decision based on the facts.