Public School vs. Private School

Many controversies that exist between public and private schools today regard students’ success rates, parents decisions to send their children to private school, and the benefits that many believe are offered by private schools; however, the quality of education has the greatest impact on the amount of success a student will have.

It is commonly believed that the quality of the school determines how successful its students will be, not the label of public or private. Unite4Education defines a quality education as a learning experience where students gain the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their full potential and become contributing members of society. According to Don Pierson, dean of the Graduate School of Education at UMass Lowell, “Parents who are considering sending their children to private school need to do a thorough investigation to see how high the quality of education really is. In some cases, it may really be superior. In some cases, it might not”. Jean Merl, reporter for the Los Angeles Times stated, “A small proportion–probably no more than 5%–of the nation’s 28,000 private schools clearly are better than the average public school. They are highly selective and sharply focused, and they spend up to three times as much per pupil, often to keep classes small. But the majority of private schools do not stand out academically”. The quality of education is arguably the most important factor in choosing a school.

In general, private schools seem to be more successful than public schools, although in some cases the success rate is not significantly higher. Hillary Chabot, reporter for the Lowell Sun, claimed that in a test that was given to private and public school fourth graders, students from the private school scored on average 14.7 points higher. However, when students were compared by gender, race, and economic situations, private school scores were only 1 point higher than public schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2011, 89 percent of public school seniors graduated with a high school diploma and 91 percent of private school seniors graduated with a high school diploma. The data also includes statistics for college admissions, stating that the average for students attending a public school is 40 percent and for private school is 69 percent. However, Brookfield Central High School is a public school with an average ACT score of 25.1, and has received the ACT Red Quill Award three times for outstanding performances on the test. Statistics seem to support the belief that in general, private school students are slightly more successful than public school students.

Often, parents choose to send their children to private school because they are very involved in their child’s education and they want a school that sets high standards. According to Merl, parents find private schools appealing due to their clearly defined missions and the common goals shared by parents and teachers. Tyngsboro Superintendent of Schools David Hawkins said, “If you can get parents to become involved in a child’s education, you have 99 percent of the battle won … a parent who has the wherewithal to pay for a private education is a parent who values education”. Private schools are appealing to many parents due to their goals for success and their investment in each student’s education.

Many people believe that sending students to private schools can be more beneficial than sending them to public schools. David Gelernter, writer for the Weekly Standard, said, “We know that private schools are perfectly capable of supplying first-class educations. So the question stands: Why have public schools?” Gelernter also stated that, allowing parents to choose the private schools they send their children to would result in closings of struggling and unsuccessful public schools. However, criticisms of private schools include that there is little to no government regulation on qualifications of teachers, textbooks, or student admissions in private schools. Sending children to private school where they receive a quality education could be very beneficial for them.

The topic of public school versus private school is often debated, and supporters of each side have their strong opinions about which side is better however, it can be concluded that it is the quality of education that creates successful students not a private school.