private or public schoolPrivate or public, that’s the million-dollar question! And one that has raged between parents for decades. Every parent is forced to make hard decisions to ensure their children have the best possible chance to achieve success in adulthood.

Comparing public vs private schools can be a little overwhelming and it’s not always easy to come to a final decision. In fact, according to Great Schools and Harris Interactive’s study, nearly 25% of all parents are considering moving their children to private from public or vice versa. While the choice is a highly personal decision, we would like to highlight a few of the variations between the two that could make all the difference to your child.

Cost

Cost is one of the most obvious differences between private and public schools. It’s no secret that private schools come with a significant price tag, while public schools are free. For some, the cost of tuition is a deal breaker, but along with that cost comes freedom from state bureaucracy. Private schools are not government funded so they are not bound by state regulations, standardized tests and mandated paperwork.

Admissions

Public schools are required to accept all children, by law. Enrollment procedures often require just a few forms and proof of residency. Districts with “school choice” policies however, may force students into a lottery to gain admission into their first choice. While some school districts at the high school level offer specialized schools with competitive enrollment based on GPAs, participation in extra-curricular activities or artistic portfolios.

By definition, private schools can be very selective in who they accept and commonly require a variety of essays, tests, and interviews. Private schools often accept students based on their academic achievements. However, the admission process is not a one sided process, it is important that you find a school that is a good fit for you. Here are some questions you should ask while researching and touring private schools.

Teacher Qualifications

Public school teachers are required to hold a college degree and hold a teaching license issued by the state in which they teach. Private school teachers are not necessarily required to meet the same standards, however most private schools are selective in the who they hire, knowing that their reputation is on the line.

Public school teachers are also granted tenure after completing a short probationary period. Once tenure is achieved, teachers in public schools can only be terminated after a 12-month rehabilitation period and a public hearing has proven misconduct or incompetence. Private schools, on the other hand, are free to handle personnel issues as they see fit.

Class size

For many parents, class size is one of the main attractions of private school. Private school classes tend to be about half the size of public school classes, with private schools averaging a student to teacher ratio of 9:1, compared to 17:1 at public schools. Students who struggle in the public school setting are often more successful in smaller classes because they are able to receive more individualized attention and are less likely to slip through the cracks.

Parental involvement

Parental involvement is usually stronger in private schools they tend to encourage and sometimes rely on parent’s volunteer efforts to execute school activities. Likewise, parents of private school students are often more willing to provide support and influence over their children’s education. At Brook Road Academy, we encourage parental involvement in everything from fundraisers to dinners. See all our opportunities for parent participation here.

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