The Battle Between Private and Public Schools

Invariably, the issue of private versus public exists, whether your town is large or small. Who’s to say which school is the best? If you ask the private school supporters, you’ll hear all sorts of argument. Private schools incorporate smaller student/teacher ratios. Private schools do away with segregation and clichÃ?©s. Private schools have better behaved students because their parents actually pay tuition, so these children are expected to be better behaved.

All of these points may be true to an extent, but what about the advantages of public schools? Generally, public schools have a more varied curriculum than private schools can offer. Advanced placement classes, cooperative employment, and technology classes may be more prevalent at public schools. Although private schools charge tuition, they aren’t receiving as much federally funded money per student like public schools are, and therefore, much of their funding is through tuition, fund raisers, and donations.

Which student gets the better education? Can we really line these schools up side by side and come up with a definite answer to that question? So many variables are involved that it really is hard to say. If you look at the statistics, private schools may do better than public schools on scholastic achievement tests, but again, how true are these statistics? Until economics are factored in, there really isn’t any way to show the true picture.

Typically, private schools are patronized by those families who can afford to pay for their children to go to school. Because of this, most of these families can be considered middle to upper-middle class. There will be a very small number of minority students, and typically, those minority students have parents who are college educated. Simply put, lower middle class families cannot afford and will not pay to send their children to private schools. Does this mean that privately schooled children will have an advantage, however?

Who teaches at these private schools? Granted, they may be educated and qualified teachers, but unless they are teaching simply because they feel called to teach at a private academy, they are generally taking a job because they need one. On the average, public school teachers make quite a bit more money than private school teachers, and a teacher that teaches at a private school may jump at the chance to make more money when a public school position opens. However, some teachers choose to teach at a private institution because they may not have to deal with larger classes and more difficult behavior problems. They will also, generally, have more parental support.

We mustn’t forget, though, that there is another possible advantage of sending a child to a private school over a public school, and that is exposure. A child that is educated at a private school is generally shielded and protected from many of the diverse behaviors that can be found in a public school. Is this good for the child, though?

Depending on whom you talk to, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. While privately schooled children may avoid the influence of bad language, drugs, and negative peer pressure, they do not live in a bubble, cut off from society. At some point, they will need to know how to deal with the unsavory temptations of the real world, and will they be able to cope if they’ve been shielded most of their lives? How will they handle the real world, where co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances won’t always be their socio-economic equals?

Most likely, there will always be the debate between public versus private schooling, and both have valid arguments to support their superiority. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If a parent really wants to take their child’s education seriously, however, the key is involvement and communication with whatever school they choose.

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