The controversy related to private schools vs public schools has developed over the years. Several arguments have been forwarded from the proponents of both view points and have eulogized the one stream of schools over the other. Private schools are generally regarded a better option for educating the children if one has the resources. Private schools are able to execute more effective and efficient educational policies and programs and can take on better teachers owing to strong financial backup that itself is generated through heavy students tuitions. In contrast to private schools, public schools are funded by government treasury and have little sources to finance the more modern and effective education policies and methodologies. This paper will analyze the pros and cons of both streams of schools systems.
The most important aspects of private school as compared with public schools is the strength of the students at class and school level. Private schools have smaller number of students as mainstream students attend the local public schools. National Center for Education Statistics says in this regards; “As reported by teachers in 1999-2000, average class size for self-contained classes tended to be somewhat larger in traditional public and public charter elementary schools than in private elementary schools.” (NCES)
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” (publicschoolreview). So public schools are more crowded as compared with private schools. This strength ratio clearly manifests that in private schools more attentions and concentration can be given to individual students. This one to one attention remains a hallmark of the private schools.
Higher education Focused Courses and Programs:
The second most important strength of the private schools is that it offers supplementary enhanced and higher education focused lessons and courses and their objective remains to polish their students to join an institute of higher education. NCES’ study shows in this regard;
At least 40 percent of elementary schools in all sectors reported offering students extended, before-school, or after-school daycare programs. Private and public charter elementary schools were the most likely to offer such programs. An estimated 65.1 percent of private schools and 62.9 percent of public charter schools offered such programs, compared with 46.5 percent of traditional public elementary schools. (NCES)
In comparison with private schools, public schools seem working on the conventional philosophy that each student is unique and college education does not suit everyone and hence no one should be forced to go ahead with higher education and they should be allowed and encouraged to choose and carve their own future paths.
Public schools offer general programs whereas private schools offer specialized programs for students that can enable them to take specialized courses at college and university level. In public schools the education of the students is pre-decided by the state what they have to learn and parents and/or students have no say in this regard. Private schools provides flexible programs and students and their parents can opt from variety of options. Great school staff website highlight and analyze the impotence of these flexible courses and says;
Private schools have the flexibility to create a specialized program for students. For example, private schools may use art or science in all classes, or take children on extended outdoor trips that blend lessons across the curriculum. Private schools can create their own curriculum and assessment systems, although many also choose to use standardized tests. (Great School Staff, 2008).
Another indirect advantage that contributes toward the overall efficiency of the private schools is the minimum role of state bureaucracy. Less time is spent on formalities including following unnecessary state policies and paperwork and thus more time is available to concentrate the quality of education, syllabus and methodologies. Teachers are more independent in their classrooms and they work out certain creative strategies to teach their students in an innovative way. The efficiency and usefulness of public schools is marred because they have to go after all national, state and local policies pertaining to education as well as finances.
Higher Academic Excellence:
Quality of education is the most important tool to measure the excellence of either a private school or a public school. The study “The 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)” conducted by National Center for Education Statistics reveals that private schools produce more excellence academically than public schools. This comparison in academic excellence was conducted at various levels and in various subjects.
The results of a grade 4 “Reading” discloses that; “In the first set of analyses, all private schools were compared to all public schools. The average private school mean reading score was 14.7 points higher than the average public school mean reading score….” (NCES) Same was the case with Grade 4Mathamirtics where private school’s students scored 7.8 higher than the public schools’ students. Same results were shown for Grade 8. This study is a clear manifestation of higher academic superiority and quality of education they offer.
Safety at Campus:
General school environment related to safety and conflict among students is another factor that parents keep in mind while opting for a schools. This is an important factor as Schools are not only a home to impart quality education but they are also concerned with the personal grooming of the children. Safe and sound environment reflects itself in the development of a good and healthy personality whereas conflict-ridden environment does not produce high-quality characters. Studies show that Private schools’ campuses are less prone to conflict as compared with Public schools. NCES reports manifests;
Private school teachers were also less likely than teachers in other sectors to report physical conflicts among students as a serious problem in their school. Just 1.0 percent of private school teachers reported that physical conflicts among students were a serious problem in their school, compared with 4.8 percent of both traditional public school and public charter school teachers. (NCES)
Proponents of the public schools forward certain arguments and supported evidence in favor of academic excellence at public schools. They further quote various studies in favor of their prepositions. The most important arguments forwarded by advocates of Public schools are as under;
Enhanced Extra and co-curricular activities:
This does not suggest that public schools have no advantages over private schools. Public schools can offer more on co-curricular activities and can fund more activities in this realm than private schools. Maureen Boland says in this regard;
Most public schools are simply bigger than private schools, and have enough students to pull off a science fair or power a chorus or computer club. What’s more, federal and state laws require public schools to provide diagnostic and disability services. Public schools are more likely to offer gifted and talented and remedial programs, too. (Boland)
Higher Teacher Qualification:
NCES study reveals that Public schools teacher are more qualified as compared with their private school counterparts. Furthermore, teachers form public schools attend the professional development courses more often. The study says; “Among full-time traditional public school teachers, 59.3 percent participated in such professional development activities, compared with 55.2 percent of full-time public charter school teachers and 43.1 percent of full-time private school teachers.” (NCES)
Adherents of public schools are of the view that “Private school innovations do not in every case stimulate improved practices at the public schools with which they compete.” (Rothstein et al) They further illustrate that “Private elementary school personnel are not necessarily more accountable to parents than are public elementary school personnel.” (Rothstein et al)
The above-mentioned arguments of the proponents of the public schools can easily be refuted as the primary objective of the schools remains imparting academic excellence and quality education whereas co-curricular activities and higher teacher professional development are secondary or subservient to the stated primary objective. Public schools are cost effective as compared with private school because they are hugely funded from the state treasury.
But the abovementioned arguments and supported evidence clearly manifest that this cost effective sacrifices the quality of education. Although private schools charge huge amounts as fees but there are two valid reasons for this. Firstly they are self-sponsored. Secondly they need huge amounts to spend on the quality of education they produce or wish to produce.
On the whole, private schools are more focused and thoroughly committed to the development of education with excellence. They do not believe in the mere transfer of knowledge but take into account the aptitude and mental inclination of the children and believe in charging their creative batteries. The faculty member of the private schools earn more and thus are dedicated toward their work and hanker after more excellence.
Boland, Maureen. Public vs. private: Which is right for your child? Parent Center.
Center on education Policy. Are private High Schools Better Academically Than Public High School? October 2007.
Great Schools Staff. (2007). Private vs. Public: What’s the Difference?.
National Center for Education Statistics. Schools and Staffing Survey, 1999-2000: Overview of the Data for Public, Private, Public Charter, and Bureau of Indian Affairs Elementary and Secondary Schools. Fast Facts.
Public School Review. Public Versus Private Schools. Retrieved March 23, 2008 at Web
Rothstein. Richard, Carnoy, Martin & Benveniste, Luis. Can Public Schools Learn From Private Schools? Case Studies in the Public & Private Nonprofit Sectors. Economic Policy Institute.
U.S. Department of Education. Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools. Retrieved March 23, 2008 at Web Site:nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/studies/2006461.pdf