Private vs. Public School

Private vs. Public School



Wouldn’t it be nice if public schools could provide everything we needed for our child’s education? It would certainly make life a lot easier. Unfortunately, the public schools in our district may not be ideal. If you are thinking about private vs. public school for your child, here are some points to consider.

What learning experience do I ultimately want for my child?

You need to decide what you think is the best learning environment for your child. Would they thrive in a more unique, individualized, student-led learning environment, such as what you would find at a private school? Or do you feel like a public school would give them more “real-life” experiences? If your child has a learning disability or special need, there are additional considerations. Depending on their needs, either school could be better for them. For example, public school districts are required to employ teachers trained in special needs, while private schools are not. However, many public schools lack the resources, so you may face a complex process while trying to find the right program for your child. Private schools, with their smaller class sizes, may be better equipped to cater to your child’s individualized needs. Depending on the type of care needed, this may involve an extra cost.
Can I afford a private school?

I know the first thing you’re thinking is “how expensive is private school? Can I afford it?” Private schools can be more affordable than you think, if you do your homework. They cost a median of $17,000 a year, but many offer payment plans and scholarships. What tuition provides is independence from state regulation. This means they can be highly specialized or offer advanced curriculums. Because they are funded by federal, state and local taxes, public schools have to follow rules, regulations, and a bureaucratic process that can sometimes get in the way of a child’s education.
Other advantages of both

Public schools: The biggest advantage of public schools is, of course, cost. Public schools are tax-funded and cannot charge tuition. Public school teachers are required to have state certification, which means the teacher has gone through training required by the state. They may be better educated than teachers in private schools, while teachers in private schools may have more “life skills”. Because public schools are generally larger, and have more funding, they are often able to offer more extracurricular activities, such as a science fair or a chorus club. Public schools also tend to have more racially and ethnically diverse student populations.
Private schools: Private schools usually have a low student to teacher ratio (an average of 9:1), allowing teachers to give more individualized attention to students. They can be better able to adapt to what a child needs, and tailor their education to the student. In public schools, class size is usually larger (an average of 17:1), especially in large school districts or urban schools. Parents are often required to volunteer, or become more involved in the school community, which helps foster a family atmosphere within the school and creates a better learning environment for the child. Private school teachers are not required to have the same certification as public school teachers, but they often have more real-world life experiences they can draw on in their teachings or may have higher degrees in their particular subject area. In many studies, students who attended private schools scored higher on standardized tests.
You certainly have a lot to think about, and I’m here to answer any questions you may have as you contemplate this difficult decision. Please feel free to contact me at with any questions, or to schedule a visit of Shady Oak Primary School.


Debbie Elder