It’s a debate that has faced parents for decades: should you send your child to private school or public school? There are definitely positives and negatives for both, but do the positives for private school truly outweigh public school in order to justify the cost? There are plenty of things to consider while making this decision. So which one do you choose?
Of course, there are some non-strictly academic reasons to choose a private school including religious schools. However, most parents choose private schools over public believing that their child is receiving a superior education at a usually smaller institution.
The reality is that these days there are so many aspects to consider beyond just cost. Mark Dynarski from the Center on Children and Families and the Brookings Institue says: “Instead of just looking at the raw data, parents should instead ask themselves what type of schooling are they looking for, for their child. What type of environment would best be suited to your child?”
When it comes to teachers, you might be surprised that teachers at private schools are newer than at public schools. They average out 16% of teachers who have less 4 years of teaching experience, versus public school teachers with the same level of experience being at 11%. Dynarski said: “Due to higher salaries and better benefits packages, teachers gravitate toward public schools. A common complaint you hear from private schools is they feel like a feeder system for the public schools.” Additionally, 48% of public school teachers have master’s degrees, versus 36% of private school teachers who have a master’s.
A dramatic difference that favors private school is when it comes to class size. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), at public schools 25 students is the average class size, while private schools have 19 kids average. Private schools win out with the student to teacher ratio, where it stands at 12.2 students, versus 16.1 students per class at public schools.
Another huge difference between the two is of course the cost. According to the NCES, the average price of private schools is $11,004 per year, but the range is from $7000 to $25,180 a year. Catholic schools average out to about $6890 per year, while nonsectarian schools average out at $21,510 per year.
Of course, there’s no blanket statement for which choice is better than the other. As stressed by Dynarski, it is important to take your child’s needs into consideration when deciding on a school for them.