Parents always want to deliver the best things to their children, be it the best school or the most comfortable bed in their bedroom. When it comes to choosing a school, parents almost get worried. They too often find themselves in the question, whether to put their child in a private school or a public school. Or maybe, “Are private schools worth the money?”
The spacious ground, luxurious classrooms, the solid feeling of generations of history, are all these worth the money? Does any of it make private schools better?
Private schools definitely provide more personalized experience. They can be accelerated, they can get extra help, and there is this air of individualization that surrounds every student.
But for each of these good experiences, there are an equal number of people who are disappointed by their experience. The increasing annual fee only aggravates the experience.
Are all those things worth the money?
Don’t let them spoil, and you can take the credit
How do you decide whether a school is good or not just from outside? You will probably look at the academic results. Superficially, private schools tend to achieve higher outcomes.
But you cannot judge so early because it is easier for private schools to get rid of students who don’t fall in line, they are autonomous. While in public schools, it is easier for a student to be left behind.
One may also note that private schools lure the high performing students and offer them scholarship. Harvard reportedly made to a private audience of overseas educators, in explaining the secret of university for its success. “It’s simple. We choose the best people, we don’t fuck them up, and we take all the credit.” Same goes for private schools.
Considering only academic achievement, the results from many Australian studies since 2000 suggest that state schools are at the same level at progressing students, once you have controlled the socioeconomic background. The difference in performance is not significant and certainly not worth the entire extra fee.
A rational decision
Looking at education as an investment, sending your child to a private school is not an economically rational decision. Private schools show no real benefit once you consider that they skim best kids and screen out the worst kids, they have all the power.
The four main reasons for students to yet choose a private school are:
First reason could be ethics and values.
Second would be the individualization of experience.
Third is the ability to influence policies and practice at a local level.
Fourth would be the aspirations for academic and social engagement.
What about the teachers?
In public schools, it is harder to get rid of the under performing teachers. The state is a mass recruiter and thus there is a lot of bureaucracy involved. Private schools have all the power in their hands. However, remember that it is the connection between the students and teachers that is more responsible for your child’s success.
Principals and researchers find it meaningless to argue which type of school is better. They are way too diverse than each other and every culture is different.
Parents should ask whether their kid is making professional development. Unless there’s a continuous improvement, it’s time to change the school.