Friday, February 15, 2013

Private Schools or Public Schools?

In deciding the type of school to send your child to, the choices come down to either private schools or public schools. While the consensus on whether one is better than the other is mixed at best, there are differences in the two choices that you should consider. For starters public schools are part of a larger political structure that resides in Washington D.C. and is part of the American wish to offer all children in this country the opportunity to enjoy an education, at least through the end of high school. Because of this political agenda schools in America are, to some extent, standardized with similar curriculum throughout the country. So it doesn't matter where you live, the education you receive in a public school in Detroit, Michigan is going to be very similar to the education you would receive in Austin, Texas. Another factor that is standardized in the public arena is teacher certification. All teachers employed in public schools are certified and credentialed to teach according to the rules and regulations of this gigantic federal scheme. This isn't always a bad thing; it's just the way it is in the system.

There are variations to this of course, with the incorporation of magnet schools and schools for the handicapped. On the other hand, private schools are under none of the curriculum hindrances of public schools. Private schools are free to choose and offer a wide choice of class options. Teachers on the private side are also not restricted in the credentials. Many private school teachers are chosen for the mastery of a particular subject rather than having a teaching certificate and background more in keeping with the requirements of a public school. Is this better or worse? There are many opinions on this question but nothing definitive as far as a clear-cut answer.

Of course the biggest difference in the two is differences in cost and the enrollment process. Public schools are forbidden to charge tuition as the tax base covers the fees for a public education. Enrollment is usually as simple as visiting the school and filing out a few forms. With private schools the fees for tuition can range from a few thousand dollars a semester to tens of thousands of dollars. However there are alternatives. Some of the least expensive, and some would say best, private schools are parochial schools like those of the Jesuit order. Admission to any of these schools can be a time consuming process involving testing and interviews. This process is mainly due to the fact that, unlike their public counter-parts, private schools do not have to take everyone that submits an application.

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