Many public school facilities are impressive others are mediocre. The same is true of private schools. In the public school system, the twin engines of political support and economic revenue base are critical. In private schools the ability to attract endowments and other forms of financial support are just as critical. Private school facilities reflect the success of the school’s development team and that of the school to continue to generate alumni support. Some private K-12 schools have facilities and amenities which surpass those found at many colleges and universities. Hotchkiss and Andover, for example, have libraries and athletic facilities on a par with those at Brown and Cornell.
They also offer academic and sports programs which make full use of all those resources. It is hard to find comparable facilities in the public sector. They are few and far between. Public schools also reflect the economic realities of their location. Wealthy suburban schools will have more amenities than inner city schools as a rule. Think Greenwich, Connecticut versus Detroit, Michigan, for example. So, who has the edge? Let’s call it a draw, all things considered. Class Size:
According to the NCES report Private Schools: A Brief Portrait private schools win out on this issue. Why? Most private schools have small class sizes. One of the key points of private education is individual attention. You need student to teacher ratios of 15:1 or better to achieve that goal of individual attention. On the other hand a public system has to take almost anyone who lives within its boundaries. In public schools you will generally find much larger class sizes, sometimes exceeding 35-40 students in some inner city schools. At that point teaching rapidly degenerates into babysitting. Teaching:
Public sector teachers are generally better paid. Naturally compensation varies widely depending on the local economic situation. Put another way, it’s cheaper living in Duluth, Minnesota than it is in San Francisco. Unfortunately low starting salaries and small annual salary increases result in low teacher retention in many public school districts. Public sector benefits have historically been excellent; however, health and pension costs have risen so dramatically since 2000 that public educators will be forced to pay or pay more for their benefits. Private school compensation tends to be somewhat lower than public. Again, much depends on the school and its financial resources.
One private school benefit found especially in boarding schools is housing and meals. Private school pension schemes vary widely. Many schools use major pension providers such as TIAA-CREF Both public and private schools require their teachers to be credentialed. This usually means a degree and a teaching certificate. Private schools tend to hire teachers with advanced degrees in their subject over teachers who have an education degree. Put another way, a private school hiring a Spanish teacher will want that teacher to have a degree in Spanish language and literature as opposed to an education degree with a minor in Spanish. Budgets:
Since local property taxes support the bulk of public education, the annual school budget exercise is a serious fiscal and political business. In poor communities or communities which have many voters living on fixed incomes, there is precious little room to respond to budget requests within the framework of projected tax revenue. Grants from foundations and the business community are essential to creative funding. Private schools on the other hand can raise tuition, and they also can raise significant amounts of money from a variety of development activities, including annual appeals, cultivation of alumni and alumnae, and solicitation of grants from foundations and corporations. The strong allegiance to private schools by their alumni makes the chances of fund-raising success a real possibility in most cases. Administrative Support:
The bigger the bureaucracy, the harder it is to get decisions made at all, much less get them made quickly. The public education system is notorious for having antiquated work rules and bloated bureaucracies. This is as a result of union contracts and host of political considerations. Private schools on the other hand generally have a lean management structure. Every dollar spent has to come from operating income and endowment income. Those resources are finite. The other difference is that private schools rarely have teacher unions to deal with.
Advantages and disadvantages:
There are many advantages and disadvantages to both public and private schools. As a parent, both options must be explored and the choice must be based on what is right for each particular child. Public schools often have a larger variety of subjects available, especially when it comes to electives. However, what is learned is somewhat decided by the state because public schools need to do well on standardized testing. Private schools, on the other hand, whether parochial or private have much more freedom of choice in curriculum and can choose to make their own assessments. Because of the individualized instruction, private schools tend to do generally better on standardized testing, that is, if they choose to use it. Private schools, many times, have more demanding curricula and have a higher rate of students who go on to attend college. Public schools are larger and also have larger class sizes. Public schools also have larger student-teacher ratios.
According to a web site called Public School Review, “Private schools average 13 students per teacher, compared with an average of 16 students per teacher in public schools” (public school review). However, public schools have certified teachers. Private schools typically have teachers who are not state-certified and who may not have expertise in their subject matter. The biggest difference between public and private schools probably is that public schools are required to educate all students. They cannot deny any student admission.
On the other hand, private schools have complete control about which they accept and can kick students out much more easily. Public schools are funded by tax revenue whereas private schools are funded privately. That means private schools cost money to attend called tuition. Taxpayers pay for public schools so the payment is included in what people pay. However in private schools, the payment is upfront for students to attend. Overall, there is no one right answer for which kind of school a student attends-public or private. The decision must be made for each individual student as there are advantages and disadvantages of both.
Private school can be more beneficial than going to a public school. Private schools focus on preparing students for the next level of education; public schools are focused on test preparations sessions. Choosing the right school system for your child has a repercussion towards their future education. In the public school system the classrooms are overcrowded with students. Each class has an average of 27 to 30 students to it, which can limit the ability of one on one interaction with the teacher. A lot of the bullying issues come from the unstructured dress codes. This can create social divide to the less fortunate kids that can’t afford all the name brand items. In public school teachers are quick to say your child needs to be on medication if they are high strung, without knowing what other forms of issues might be occurring in the home.
When parents try to discipline their child at home the school seems to always try to step in. Some things should be up to the parents to handle without haven to worry about the school stepping in. In the private school system when a child enters the school for the first time he or she will start out with a minimal class size with no more than 20 students. This allows more one on one time with the teacher, it also opens up more time for activities. The private school has a very strictly enforced dress code to eliminate animosity between the students. The schools are very family oriented with parents and students being involved with school activities. Teachers and parents are held to higher standards from the private schools. Teachers are expected to continue to grow and parents are obligated to maintain discipline of their children even in their absence. The testing that takes place at private schools is called Terra Nova, and kids are tested two or three times a year.
So, who comes out on top? Public schools or private schools As you can see, there are no clear-cut answers or conclusions. Public schools have their advantages and disadvantages. Private schools offer an alternative. Which works best for you? That’s the real question which you have to answer.
Courtney from Study Moose
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