The debate between private and public education will most likely go on forever. Whether your child comes out of private or public school better prepared for the rest of his/her life will never really be known. In order to find out, you would need to have the same child experience both, which simply isn’t possible.
Public schools provide statistics on how the diversity and larger class sizes teach students to be patient with (and tolerant of) others. Private schools show that smaller class sizes allow teachers to be more interactive with students, that they have better-kept facilities, and that they can fit more material into a school day when they follow their own curriculum rather than the state’s.
I don’t doubt that both schools have their advantages, but is paying for a private school education truly worth the money?
According to a census taken at the end of the school year in 2009, the average private education tuition was $17,441 per year. If you decide to send your child to private school for grades 1-12, you will be spending a total of $209,292 on your child’s pre-college education. If you choose to send them to public school, you spend nada. Is spending over $200,000 a wise investment for your family and–more importantly–for the child you are spending it on?
My answer is “no, not even close.”
Granted, there are going to be situations where the public schools located in your area are poor or downright unsafe and sending your child to a private school is an excellent decision. But for many parents, I can think of better ways to invest in your family’s future.
If you invested $17,441 a year into a high yield savings account paying 2%, when your child graduates from high school, you will have a total of $240,000 available to pay for college, cars, or anything else you think would help your children out. And if you have a financial advisor you trust, you can probably do much better than that.
Why do I feel this way? It comes down to return on investment.
- Does the $200K ensure that your son or daughter will be better educated? No.
- Does the $200K ensure that your son or daughter will be approved for a top end University? No.
Statistics show that a proportionate number of private and public school students are accepted into quality universities and that private students standardized test scores are only slightly higher than that of public schools. I would argue that private schools show better standardized test scores on average because the living conditions for privately schooled children are better than those of publicly schooled children.
So if there is no guarantee of a better education–or a better shot at college–then what do you get out of your purchase?
- More Control – Parents have little control over a school board’s curriculum in a public school because it comes from the local or state government. Private schools are funded by parents and not by taxes, so parents have a little more control in what they can change (or try to change)
- Better Facilities – There’s no doubt that a private school will have better-kept facilities, more resources and offer more opportunities for students to expand their minds. Whether or not students are receptive to these options is dependent on the student of course.
- Peace of Mind – Just as my mother doesn’t mind spending $90 each year to have her taxes done by a professional, rather than doing them herself, private educations can put a parent’s worries at ease, because they are better maintained and overall safer than public schools.
From personal experience, I can tell you that my public school education taught me a lot about life that I most certainly would not have learned had I been enrolled in private school. Students that work hard and take education seriously can do so in either setting, and who’s to say that private school will actually be the better option?
Whatever decision you choose, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and everything will work out A-OK.