In most private schools, there are more technology tools available too, and textbooks (and even buildings) can be more modern and update. Private schools have bigger budgets for these things because they do not have to support school lunch programs, after school programs, and programs for disadvantaged parents and such, they can dedicate more of their monies to the actual educational experience, and that means that many of these schools can offer technologies and other materials that public schools simply cannot afford.
Many parents also believe that public education has become far too focused on test scores, moving children from grade level to grade level, and meeting federal mandates, rather than focusing on the children and their different needs. Many parents send their children to private schools because they believe they are more creative, nurturing, and important in a childs all around development (Mitchell, and Salsbury 43). Many private schools allow children to progress through the grade levels at their own rate, making school far less competitive and stressful for many children.
For many families, the most compelling reason for their children to attend private schools is because of the secularity of public schools, due to the separation of church and state required in the Constitution. Laws mandate that public schools cannot educate on the basis of religion, and cannot include religion in the classroom, while private schools face no such regulations. Indeed, many private schools cater to specific religious groups, such as Catholics, Muslims, and Jews, and far beyond. Many parents believe their children should receive religious education as part of their academic experience, and that is why they choose private schools for their children. The history of American education supports these principles, as many of the first schools in the country were formed around religious principles, and so it makes sense that this is still an important issue for many American families.
Graduation requirements also differ, often greatly, between public and private schools. Public schools are mandated by federal and state regulations that indicate what students must do to graduate, while private schools are not. Private schools can set their own graduation requirements, and these can differ widely from school to school. While many private schools do become members of private school associations, which help make requirements standard from school to school, there is no guarantee that a private school participates in one of these associations (Editors). Thus, if a child in private school moves from one state to another, the requirements may be entirely different at their new school, where in most public schools, requirements will be essentially the same, and children will not be set back because of relocation.
Many people believe that private schools offer a far better standard of education than public schools, and choose to send their children there so they will gain the best education possible. Surprisingly, some studies indicate that may not be the case. A study by a husband and wife team of researchers based at the University of Illinois-Champaign, “found that when they controlled for a familys socioeconomic background, public-school kids slightly outperformed private-school kids” (Clayton).
This may be surprising to some parents, and it may send shockwaves through the educational community, but at the bottom line of these findings is that “socioeconomic” background. Poor children have fewer opportunities for a good education, period. Children in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods, who attend better schools, however, may have the opportunity for a better education without the expense of a private school, and those are important findings for Americas public schools, at least in some areas.
Finally, there is one very special difference between public and private schools, and that is the way they deal with children with special needs. Most private schools do not have the facilities or staff to deal with special needs students. In addition, unlike public schools, they are not mandated to provide for all children, regardless of their disabilities or needs. The editors of the Public School Review Web site continue, “Also, private schools are not required to provide educational programs for children with special needs. Private schools are also under no obligation to keep a student enrolled (Editors). Therefore, special needs children may not get the attention or education they require in a private school and a public school might be a much better option for most of these children.
In conclusion, it is clear why there is a debate over public vs. private education in this country. The lines are blurry, and neither side is right or wrong. For many children, depending on where they live and the schools in their area, public schools may give them an entirely satisfactory educational experience that will easily prepare them for the future. In other cases, especially in low-income and poverty-ridden areas, public schools may be dangerous places that encourage children to drop out, rather than achieve. Private schools are not always the best alternative, and their main drawback seems to be that some of the poor children that need them most cannot possibly attain their level of education or safety, and that is something that the nation needs to rectify in its educational system. The rich, powerful, and elite should not be the only families who can send their children to private school, and until that changes, millions of American children will be shortchanged in their education.
Boland, Maureen. “Public vs. Private: Which is Right for Your Child?” ParentCenter.com. 2008. 11 July 2008. http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/0_public-vs.-private-which-is-right-for-your-child_67271.pc
Clayton, Victoria. “School Debate: Public vs. Private.” MSNBC.com. 2005. 11 July 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8743221/
Editors. “Public School vs. Private School.” Public School Review. 2008. 11 July 2008. http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/5
Mitchell, Bruce M., and Robert E. Salsbury. Unequal Opportunity: A Crisis in Americas Schools? Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 2002.
Rothman, Stanley, Seymour Martin Lipset, and Neil Nevitte. “Racial Diversity Reconsidered.” Public Interest Spring 2003:.