Public vs. Private Elementary Schools
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Public vs. private elementary schools. Public schools are schools that are provided by state and federal funding. Ninety percent of the children today in America attend public school. Private schools include both parochial schools and non-parochial schools. According to a special report published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2002, in 1999–2000, approximately 27,000 private schools accounted for 24 percent of all schools in the US and 12 percent of all full-time-equivalent teachers. Clearly, there are many more public schools that provide education to American students than their private counterparts.
Usually when considering private versus public school, parents will have one or more factors that concern them. When looking at public or private schools, the following factors come into play:
- Academic reputation and college preparation
- Safety reputation
- School size and Class size
- Special programs
- Religious and Moral instruction
Academic reputation plays a big role when considering private versus public schools. School systems vary greatly in their academic reputation. For as many wonderful public schools that exist, there are also those that perform under the bar. Unfortunately for most families, children must go to the public school that their home is zoned in. Usually there is a perceived or statistically supported issue with a public school’s academic record that flags a parent’s concern and willingness to move their child into a private school.
Private schools usually have a more rigorous academic reputation. But within the public school system, Charter Schools and Magnet schools both blur the distinction between public and private schools. Related to the academic reputation is the focus of the school on college preparation. Within the public school system, the percent of children that go on to college differs depending on the location of the school. You can’t lump all the schools together. However, you can look at the school’s overall focus and whether it is on college preparation or not (and whether that is your shared focus).
Special programs impact parents in two different ways when considering private versus public schooling. Because public schools have a responsibility to teach all students, public schools often have in place special programs for children with special needs (whether it is academically or mentally). Private schools, while they may have special programs for gifted students, will rarely have programs for children with special needs unless that is what the private school specializes in. There are also other kinds of special programs, for example, ones that specialize in the arts. Military, boarding, and single-sex programs are usually only found in a private setting.
A factor that plays a large role in parents deciding whether to send their children to public or private school is whether or not they want religious and or moral instruction to play a part of their children’s academic setting. Overall, religious and moral instruction does not play a part of public schooling.