Public vs. private: Why public schools are the better option

In a society where education is strongly emphasized, two types of schools were designed to provide students with quality education: public and private schools. Public schools are free for students and are funded through taxes, while private schools come with a costly tuition. Though private schools claim to be superior because they have more resources, public schools are significantly better for students.

First of all, public schools are more ethnically and racially diverse than private schools. According to “The overwhelming whiteness of U.S. private schools, in six maps and charts” by Emma Brown of the Washington Post, private schools are far more likely to be “virtually all-white,” or over 90-percent Caucasian.  43-percent of private-school students in the U.S. attended virtually-all white schools, while only 27-percent of public-school students went to school in such a white-dominated setting.

Since public schools are more diverse, they imitate the real-world setting more effectively and teach students to appreciate cultural diversity. Freshman Rose Lee noted that in private schools, students “won’t be exposed to as many different cultures and as many different people.” Surrounding students with diversity at an early age helps eliminate prejudices and promote intercultural cooperation.

Additionally, private schools require a hefty tuition, allowing only wealthier students who can afford it to enroll. The students are only exposed to people of the same upper-socioeconomic class, and do not interact with lower-income students on a daily basis.  Due to this isolated environment, it is harder for private-school students to understand and sympathize with the hardships of poverty.

Also, since private schools are significantly less populated than their public school counterparts, their school events are smaller, which may have less appeal to students. School events are meant to be opportunities to meet new people, which is difficult when the community is so tiny. “Private schools, being much smaller, wouldn’t be as social,” freshman Valerie Wang agreed.

Another drawback of private schools is that they lack a standardized curriculum. Since there is no standard to compare to, the students in private schools could be under-performing or learning at a slower rate than public school students, which makes it difficult for them if they switch schools. “If one day [private school students] decide to go to public schools, the staff won’t know what classes to place them in or how they compare to other students,” freshman Angela Mu said.

Also, all public schools require teachers to either be certified or working towards certification in order to be authorized to teach in the public school system. However, not all private schools require that certification. Since they do not have to meet a certain standard, the teachers at private schools may not be as qualified as those at public schools.

In addition, all public schools are required by law to accommodate students with disabilities. However, not all private schools have special education programs. This may result in students being disadvantaged at private schools because they do not have accommodations to suit their needs.

Some proponents of private schools claim that public schools are more limited in economic resources and thus are unable to suit the students’ educational needs. However, many public school systems, including Montgomery County Public Schools, offer Magnet Programs for gifted students, so they can reach their full potential in a positive, diverse, and tuition-free environment.

Though public schools may have less funding than private schools, the benefits of diversity, a standardized curriculum, teacher certification, and special programs greatly outweigh the negatives.  After graduating from high school, a public-school student would be more prepared to face the challenges of the real world.

One thought on “Public vs. private: Why public schools are the better option

  • February 1, 2018 at 5:49 am

    Dear writer, you make some excellent points. However I too graduated from a public school and although you are correct about the benefits of diversity and creating sympathy for social issues, there is diversity in private schools too. In fact, many of the points you mention, standardized curriculum, certified teachers, and so on are correct. However you don’t mention the lack of options. As a parent, I can carefully vet private schools to obtain these standards and in many cases exceed public school standards. You are right, there are some mediocre private schools out there, but see here is the thing, for good or for bad, like anything else your money entitles one to an opinion on how you want your child’s education to look like. I can hem and haw at a public school, even at a “good one” but at the end of the day, I just have to roll the dice that I get a good teacher or a good cohort. In public schools, the diversity can also create an unwelcomed distraction. I was bullied. Got into many fights. I self define myself as an average student. I can’t blame my school for all this whereas I recall it had all the AP courses and gifted programs but they failed to guide me. The onus was on my parents and to a great extent to me. I guess you can argue, all of this prepared me for later in life, to be self sufficient and not live in a socio economic bubble. I am not sure about that. All I can say is that I live in a “good school district” (MCPS) whereas all my local schools are 8,9, and 10 and the over crowded classrooms, many bitter and older teachers that are exhausted from 2.0, and a system that promotes management for medioacre performance I remain unconvinced that I can’t do better looking for alternative options.


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