I have examined and compared public versus private education. Also, this collection of information should help you understand differences between public and private schools. Aspects of equality and achievement in private and public education will be dissected and evaluated. Observations I have evaluated and examined both public and private education institutional systems.
Public Education Public schools are in crisis, and not because of any shortages of public funds (more money is spent on public education than ever before, but with declining results). Many people like to think the problem with our schools is precisely that they are public: 'Government schools' are run like the rest of the government, poorly and inefficiently. Teachers are not primarily to blame, because they are also victims of bad conditions of schools and their profession. The solution is to get government out of the business of education and to run education in a more businesslike way. However, education is not a business like other businesses; it does not turn out a product whose value can be expressed adequately in terms of market price.
Education does impart business or workplace skills, of course, but the value of reading and writing well cannot be captured fully by a future salary. The love of learning and growing as a student mentally is what shapes each individual's identity in public life. Before much progress can be made, Americans will have to be persuaded that public schools are a public failure -- that they are turning out not just poorly educated students but bad or indifferent citizens. However statistics show that Americans have confidence in public education. In 1997 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was the first in which an effort was made to determine whether the public wants to place its confidence in the public schools or to start looking for an alternative system. In that poll, the public clearly indicated its preference for the public schools...
The results clearly affirm the public's belief that our national commitment to educating all our children through the public schools should be maintained. 71% of Americans indicate that the focus in education should be on reforming the existing system. This compares to 27% opting for finding an alternative system such as private schools. When presented with the specific choice of improving the existing public schools or providing vouchers for parents to use in selecting and paying for private and / or church-related schools, 70% opt for improving the existing public schools, while only 28% choose a voucher plan. The public's preference for the public schools would seem to be related to its positive assessment of those schools. Although respondents continued to desire improvement, they are generally pleased with their schools.
Forty-nine percent assigned the public schools in the community a grade of A or B. Problems facing the public schools. The general satisfaction with the public schools should not cause one to lose sight of the fact that the public wants those schools improved. It would be logical for such improvement to focus on areas in which problems exist.
Down through the years, the public has been consistent in the area which shows lack of discipline. Other points of either drug abuse, lack of financial support, or lack of discipline has topped the list. This year, lack of discipline is identified as the top problem. Fighting / violence /gangs follows at high on the list and lack of financial support / funding /money is also an issue. Teachers and classroom sizes are recognized as a ongoing problem in public education. Improvement strategies.
How would the public improve its schools? The public continues to support zero tolerance policies with regard to drugs and alcohol Many people believe that violation of these policies should lead to automatic suspension. Smaller classrooms sizes and more teachers with better training will improve public edu action. Private Education Parents of students in grades 3-12 who attended private schools were more likely than their public school counterparts to be very satisfied with their children's school overall and with its specific aspects, such as the teachers, academic standards, and discipline. Within the public sector, parents whose children attended a chosen public school were generally more satisfied than those whose children were in an assigned school. Furthermore, among those whose children attended assigned public schools, parents whose choice of residence was school related were more satisfied than those who did not choose their residence for this reason. Parents whose children attended chosen public schools and those whose choice of residence was school related were about equally likely to be very satisfied with their children's schools.
Coleman's findings have a potential weakness, however. Namely, it would be possible to have a school with comparable numbers of black and white students without those students interacting with each other in any meaningful way. In order to address this issue, Jay Greene and Nicole Mellow recently studied voluntary integration in public and private school lunchrooms. Their results: Children in private schools were more likely to voluntarily associate with members of a different racial or ethnic group than were children in public schools. Catholic Schools and the Common Good By Anthony S.
Bry k, Valerie E. Lee, and Peter B. Holland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).' The authors examine a broad range of Catholic high schools to determine whether or not students are better educated in these schools than they are in public schools. They find that the Catholic schools do have an independent effect on achievement, especially in reducing disparities between disadvantaged and other students. The Catholic school of today, they show, is informed by a vision, similar to that of John Dewey, of the school as a community committed to democratic education and the common good of all students.' -- From the book jacket. Further information on Catholic schools can be gleaned from the website of the National Catholic Education Association.
General Observation and Comparison Because of the central role teachers play in the educational process, differences between public and private school teachers are an important dimension in which to compare public and private schools. In the aggregate, public and private school teachers come from different racial / ethnic backgrounds, have different qualifications to teach, and are compensated differently. Private schools have fewer minority teachers and principals. In public schools, an average of 12 percent of the teachers and 16 percent of the principals were minorities. The percentages were lower in private schools (9 percent minority teachers and 8 percent minority principals). The benefits of having minority teachers as role models have been widely discussed.
7 Nevertheless, 42 percent of public schools and 66 percent of private schools had no minority teachers in 1993-94. 8 On certain measures, public school teachers appear to be more qualified than their private school counterparts. Although many aspects of teacher qualifications are difficult to measure, public school teachers appear to be more qualified than private school teachers in terms of their education and years of teaching experience. In the 1993-94 school year, public school teachers were more likely than private school teachers to have earned a master's degree (42 versus 30 percent). The relative merits of various school sizes have been studied extensively as researchers have searched for the ideal school size.
15 Smaller schools are generally thought to be easier to manage and to promote a greater sense of community among both students and teachers; however, larger schools (within limits) are often more equipped to offer a wider range of academic programs and support services. The advantages of larger schools are more relevant to secondary than elementary schools. Public schools tend to have larger enrollments. Small classes allow teachers to give students more individual attention and lighten the teacher's workload and therefore are generally considered desirable, 16 although research on the relationship between outcomes and class size has not been conclusive. Despite the advantages they may have, small class sizes are also expensive, and invoke trade-offs between small class size and other uses of school resources.
Average class size is larger in public schools. At both the elementary and secondary levels, private schools, on average, have smaller classes. In the 1993-94 school year, the average class size was 24 in both elementary and secondary public schools, compared to 22 in private elementary schools and 19 in private secondary schools. School climate can significantly affect the quality of the educational experience for students, teachers, and other staff as well as parents's atis faction with their child's school. Neither teachers nor students can perform at their best if their school is unsafe or disrupted by misbehaving students or if there is a lack of cooperation among teachers or between the school and parents. The National Education Goals for the year 2000 call for schools that 'will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.
'The Goals also call for increased 'parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.' 19 Exposure to crime or threats is far more common in public schools. To learn effectively, students must feel safe at school. The learning environment in schools where students have to worry about being threatened or becoming victims of crime may be seriously compromised. Crime occurs in and around both public and privateConclusionAlthough there is much variation within each sector, in the aggregate, public school students present their schools with greater challenges than do their private school counterparts. Not only do they come from more diverse racial / ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, but also public school teachers are more likely than private school teachers to perceive their students and their families as having problems that can interfere with learning. Overall, teachers in public schools are more likely than their private school counterparts to have certain attributes that are thought to contribute to effective teaching.
These include more schooling, more teaching experience, and greater participation in professional development activities. However, public and private school teachers use similar teaching strategies. On average, public school teachers earn more and receive more benefits, which provides public schools with one advantage when trying to attract and retain the best teachers. Despite poorer pay, private school teachers as a group are more satisfied than public school teachers with their jobs.
In the aggregate, private schools seem to offer a greater sense of community, greater teacher autonomy in the classroom, and more local influence over curriculum and important school policies. In addition, on average, private schools have a climate that would appear to be more conducive to learning, including greater safety and fewer problems caused by students having poor attitudes toward learning or negative interactions with teachers. Finally, private school students take more advanced courses than do public high school students. They also appear to follow a more rigorous academic program overall, but the differences may be narrowing. While some systematic differences between public and private education have been outlined here, enormous variation exists within each sector. How successful students are in school does not depend on whether they attend public or private schools, but is related in complex ways to the abilities, attitudes, and problems they bring to school; the skills and expertise of their teachers; and the quality of the learning environment, which is the joint responsibility of students, teachers, school administrators, parents, the larger communities in which the schools are located, and policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels.
You begin, the other person retorts, you interrupt, they yell, and the whole thing degenerates into a screaming match of interrupted thoughts that have no chance of changing someone else's mind. In light of this, I thought it strange and significant that, despite my biases, I managed to have a fabulous debate recently about the quality of private high schools as opposed to public ones. Before coming to Rhodes, public school was something I took for granted. There were no private schools in my district, and I always assumed that I was getting a good education at my public high school.
Thus, I never assumed that private schools were superior to public ones. When our football team played a private school, we looked at those kids as being different from us; perhaps richer and better-dressed, but not smarter or better-educated. Then, after we destroyed them on the football field, they would yell into our bleachers, 'Who cares? You " re going to be working for us someday!' Grrr... I was greatly relieved when I did some reading in my psychology textbook about studies conducted on the quality of education people receive, be it private or public.
Not to harp on the word 'assume,' but that's what a lot of the findings come down to. People assume that private schools provide better educations, because raw test scores and academic achievements tend to be higher. Upon further research, we discover that private schools do not produce high test scores. The students that attend private schools are usually wealthy, have college-educated parents and, most importantly, have parents who expect them to succeed and care more about their academic endeavors. Many students in my high school were the first generation in their families to receive a diploma. I understand the advantages of a private education.
Your probability of being in classes with people who care about your development are much better. Boarding private high schools have a college-like atmosphere, which probably encourages maturity and independence. In private high schools, you can probably read books that would have made my school's administrative board quake with fear. You " re less likely to have a gun pulled on you. These aspects are great and all, and may, for some, suffice to sell them on the virtues of a private school, but it's not all sugar and rosebuds. True, you are surrounded by individuals who are more likely to care about learning, but private schools are largely homogeneous, while public schools expose students to a greater diversity of lifestyle and academic approach.
Students at colleges like Rhodes place academia in high esteem, but other approaches are just as, if not more, valid. About 25% of my graduating class did not go to college. Some joined the military, some opened their own garages, beauty salons, and art studios, some got married, and some got very good jobs. Though college is not the pinnacle of human achievement, private schools have a certain expectancy that their graduates will attend, although their real interests may not have a practical application in a college setting, but a very practical application in the real world.
A lack of exposure to post-high school endeavors such as these leads private school students to deny their validity, and even breed a degree of elitism. Private school students believe their education to be substantially better than one received in public schooling, regardless whether this is true. As a result, they sometimes believe that they should have some sort of advantage over public school students (perhaps with better grades) when applying to college, using the argument, 'I went to a tougher school. I had to work harder.' This may be true in some cases, but certainly not all.
The biases against public schools are perhaps the biggest threat to them. The case for private school superiority may well be a self-fulfilling prophecy if parents or their children become scared off by the word 'public.' If an active interest is taken in a student's progress, be it from parents, teachers, friends, counselors, or within the student, they will have academic success regardless of whether or not they pay tuition or wear uniforms. How they differ About 46 million students are currently enrolled in the Nation's public schools in kindergarten through grade 12, and another 6 million are enrolled in private schools. 1 Because private schools are often perceived to be more successful in teaching students, with at least some empirical basis, 2 many reform proposals for public schools have looked to the private sector for models to emulate. School choice, small schools, and decentralized decision making, for example, are among the features commonly associated with private education that many have suggested might benefit public schools. Exactly how do public and private schools differ? To address this question, at least in the aggregate, national data are assembled here to compare public and private schools along a number of important dimensions.
The discussion begins with an examination of two fundamental differences between public and private schools: their sources of support and the role of choice in determining where students go to school. Next is a description of the characteristics of the key participants in the education process- students and teachers-and how they differ in the public and private sectors. Following that is a comparison of selected aspects of the organization and management of public and private schools, including school and class size and who makes policy decisions for the school and classroom. Next, the varying circumstances under which teaching and learning take place in public and private schools (the school climate) are examined.
The final sections describe differences in academic programs and support services. The data show many systematic differences between public and private schools, and provide a context in which to consider the debates about the relative merits of various aspects of public and private schooling. However, as public and private schools are compared, it is important to keep in mind the enormous variation that exists within each sector and the overlap between the two. As Baker, Han, and Keil point out in their examination of organizational differences between public and private secondary schools, 'School sector is not a simple organizational fault line running through the Nation's schools.' 3 More detail on the nature of the diversity that exists within each sector can be found in other NCES publications. 4 The defining distinction between public and private schools is their different sources of support. Public schools depend primarily on local, state, and federal government funds, while private schools are usually supported by tuition payments and sometimes by funds from other nonpublic sources such as religious organizations, endowments, grants, and charitable donations.
In some states, private schools receive public funds for certain services (e. g. , transportation). Tuition at private schools varies considerably by grade level and whether or not the school has a religious affiliation. In 1993-94, the average tuition paid by private school students was about $3, 100, but ranged from a low of about $1, 600 in The idea of school choice has traditionally been associated with private schools, but many advocate offering at least some choice within the public sector. Having public schools compete for students, the thinking goes, will provide them with a strong incentive to improve and be more responsive to the needs and concerns of students and their parents.
Private schools are attended by choice, but choice is not limited to the private sector. Private schools provide an alternative for parents who are dissatisfied with public schools or have other reasons for wanting their children to attend a private school. Within the private sector, parents can choose among a range of religiously affiliated and nonsectarian schools (as long as they can afford the tuition charged or receive financial aid). Some private schools are very selective in their admissions, while others are not.
In 1993, 9 percent of all students in grades 3-12 attended a private school. Parents of students in public schools can sometimes choose or exert influence over which schools their children attend. In 1993, 11 percent of students in grades 3-12 attended a public school chosen by their parents. In addition, parents can indirectly choose among public schools for their children to the extent that they can choose where to live. While 80 percent of public school students in grades 3-12 attended an assigned public school in 1993, the parents of 39 percent of the students in these grades indicated that their child attended an assigned school but that their choice of residence was influenced by where their children would go to school. Thus, less than half (41 percent) of the students in grades 3-12 attended assigned public schools over which their parents had exercised no direct or indirect choice.
Families with annual incomes over $50, 000 have the most choice. Higher family income facilitates both public and private school choice. Because most private schools charge tuition, only parents with the personal financial resources or financial aid to afford the tuition truly have the option of selecting a private school. Thus, the rate of private school attendance in 1993 increased with family income. Similarly, because the housing options that realistically can be considered are related to a family's income, the percentage of parents who reported that their choice of residence was influenced by where their children would go to school also generally increased with family income. Children from the lowest income families (less than $15, 000) were more likely than those from families with incomes over $30, 000 to attend a chosen public school.
However, the net result of the various types of choice was that children from families with incomes over $50, 000 were much less likely than children from families in lower income categories to attend an assigned public school over which they had not exercised any choice. Reference The Condition of Education 1997, 182, based on NCES, Schools and Staffing Survey, 1993-94, and the Teacher Follow-up Survey, 1994-95. 14/ NCES, Schools and Staffing in the United States, 1993-94, 107. 15/ V. E. Lee and J.
B. Smith, 'High School Size: Which Works Best, and for Whom? ,' paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, 1996. 16/ F. Most eller, R. Light, and J. Sachs, 'Sustained Inquiry in Education: Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size,' Harvard Educational Review 66 (4) (1996): 797-842.
17/ The Condition of Education 1997, 136, based on NCES, Schools and Staffing Survey, 1987-88, 1990-91, and 1993-94.