Public School vs. Private School: The Pros and Cons
Pros of Private School
A private school education might be right for some families, but it is not the optimal choice for every child. Here are benefits to a private school.
• Smaller class sizes may be less overwhelming and mean more individualized attention. The teacher can find a learning method best geared to your child.
• Many private schools provide a more challenging curriculum and students who are high achievers may thrive in this atmosphere.
• The values of the school will represent its core beliefs. You may find more traditions and expectations at a private school.
• Some private schools are religion-based, offering classes in religion as part of the curriculum.
• Private schools may have better funding, which translates to better supplies, resources, and equipment.
• Discipline is often taken seriously at private schools, which have an easy option of expelling students who do not behave.
• Private schools typically do not tolerate bullying behaviors. Your child may feel more welcome and included in the private school.
• Private school teachers have more control over their curriculum and teaching methods, and less responsibility to teach to standardized testing.
• Smaller private schools can work closely with a child who is out of school frequently due to illness or therapy. However, this is not always the case, so make certain to inquire about worse case scenarios at your initial meeting with the school. Be completely honest about your child’s situation.
• More parents tend to be active in school involvement since they are paying for their child’s education.
• Some private schools offer significant scholarships to make the education affordable for more students.
• Students who go to private high schools tend to have higher standardized test scores.
• Private schools tend to have better security and provide a safer learning environment.
Cons of Private School
• Private schools do not have to uphold the same regulations for teaching children with special needs. Your chosen school may not be able to provide your child with the services he or she requires.
• The cost can be prohibitive and put a financial strain on the family.
• The student body will often be less diverse, especially when looking at a religion-based school. There will likely be fewer students with special needs in a private school.
• You will have to apply and be selected by the school to attend – admission is not guaranteed.
• Religion-based schools often reduce secular class hours to fit in religious subjects.
• The school is not required by law to work with a child who is out sick. Discuss this in advance with the school before enrolling.
• Many students may come from wealthier backgrounds, sometimes making children from less affluent families feel “not as good” as their peers.
• Curriculum options may be limited, especially in high schools where public schools have varied offerings.
• Private schools typically do not offer services such as speech therapy. Additional therapies are believed to be the parent’s responsibility.
• Smaller private schools may not offer extensive opportunities for sports and extra-curricular activities.
• If the school does not seek certification, the teachers are not required to have a teaching degree.
• Private schools do not have to accept students with special needs.
• Your child may not be attending school with others from the neighborhood, reducing the ability to make local friends.
• Passing of an entrance exam may be required.
Pros and Cons of Charter Schools
A charter school may sound appealing due to its smaller class size and more familiar atmosphere. However, your child may not receive the same special needs programs available in a public school. Charter schools are not required by law to work with IEPs and disabilities, although many will whenever possible.
Charter schools are run by private companies but receive public funding. They tend to have fewer sports and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, not all charter schools are well-run, and many fail each year. Well-run schools offer exceptional academic opportunities to their students. Be prepared to do extensive research if this is an option.
The Bottom Line on Public vs. Private School
While public schools are required by federal and state laws to provide services for students with special needs, it does not mean they will do the job well. As a parent, you must be prepared to fight for what your child needs. Some parents seek other avenues when they feel that the public school system failed them. However, for every negative story, there are those where the student thrives in this setting.
No one knows your child better than you do. Be watchful of specific signs and behaviors after a day at school. Does your child seem calm or agitated, happy or acting out? The answers can signal that everything is going right or all wrong. Your child may also thrive in a specialized learning environment for special needs students. If you believe this is an option for your child, check with your local school board to determine what is available in your community. Ultimately, the goal is for you to find the right fit for your child. Do not hesitate to make a change if you believe the current situation is not working out well.
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