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Don't Believe the Private School Hype

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It's the age old question: Should you send your kids to private school or public school? We set the record straight.

teenagers studying

Thanks to school uniforms, supplies, meals, transportation fees and tuition, there's no doubt sending your kid to private school is costly.

But for many parents, the expense of private education is worth the sacrifice, so much in fact that most private schools have maintained their enrollment, while others enrolled more students than the year before.

So what's the big deal about private schools anyway?

• Families have the choice to live where they want: Since kids are assigned to public school districts by the location of their homes, sometimes it's cheaper to pay for a private school for a few years, than to pay a high mortgage in an expensive area with a good public school.

• You have a say in your kid's curriculum: Public schools have approved core subjects, but private schools can teach additional topics like religion or specialty math and science programs.

• Your child gets individual attention, thanks to smaller class sizes.

• More resources are available. In general, private schools have more funding per student than large public schools. That means more tables, sinks, and sports equipment.

But in terms of quality education, some attest that public school is just as good -- if not better -- than private school.

In fact, a study based on 10,000 students conducted by the University of Illinois found:

Students in public schools learn as much or more math between kindergarten and fifth grade as similar students in private schools.

"This is important, according to lead author Christopher Lubienski, College of Education at the University of Illinois, "because many current reforms, such as No Child Left Behind, charter schools and vouchers for private schools, are based on that assumption."

And a classic Money survey of public and private schools around the U.S. found:

• Students who attend the best public schools outperform most private school students.
• The average public school teacher has stronger academic qualifications than the average private school teacher.
• The best public schools offer a more challenging curriculum than most private schools.

If you do opt for a public school, how can you ensure your kid gets the best education? Turn to page two for Lubienski's best tips:

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 25, 2008, 12:12 PM

Whether it’s private or public school they all have their hands out asking for money. Every school does fundraising, you can’t get way from it.

triumph110 September 25, 2008, 1:52 PM

Great article on the differences between private and public schools. The problem is some innner city schools lag way behind. For more stories concerning teachers and schools see

Karl Priest September 26, 2008, 7:18 PM

All public schools are harming (morally, spiritually, and academically) children to one degree or another.

Most statistics show private and homeschooled students out perform public school students.

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