Public vs. Private Schools

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by guzhogi, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    Just wondering where everyone stands on the whole public versus private school debate & why. Just curious. I feel both have their pros & cons, and don't think either is 100% right for 100% of the people 100% of the time.

    For private schools, the parents have a voice what gets taught to their kids. Also, people wouldn't have to pay for another person to go to school. However, what about less fortunate people who may not be able to afford to go to school? Some more fortunate people may be willing to pay their way, but that wouldn't cover everyone from what I've seen.

    For public schools, everyone would be able to go to school. However, under this also means that someone who may or may not have children would have to pay for another person's children.

    I don't work in the curriculum department of any school system so I don't know how schools choose their curriculums. Anyone know how public school curriculums compare to private school curriculums? Just wondering.
  2. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    I came up through the public school system and did just fine. I don't have anything against public schools so long as AP/ IB/ Honors courses are available.

    However, if I have kids and the disposable income, I'll likely send them to a private school/ boarding school for the increased opportunities in college choice/ selection and thus better career choices(s) and networking abilities later in life.
  3. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    Honest, innocent question: what increased opportunities do you mean? I grew up in public schools as well and don't really know anyone who went through or works in private schools so I wouldn't know.
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I'm also a product of public schools and a big proponent of them despite the fact that I have no children. An educated society benefits all, and I'm more than happy to support the school system.
  5. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    IMO, my (at this point fictional) kids would have a better chance of getting into a competitive university if they went to a private/ boarding school and thus a better chance at obtaining and succeeding in the career field they desire.

    By 'Opportunities' I suppose I mean a more challenging and comprehensive education that will better prepare them for success in university and in life.
  6. chrmjenkins macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    They still pay taxes, don't they?
  7. MacVixen macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2009
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I definitely am a believer in Public Schools. Attended them my entire life and I think I turned out ok :)

    Now that I have children of my own, I have no problem sending them to public school as well, but will also consider private if I think it works better for my kids. My oldest for example has some emotional and behavioral delays and while he is getting help in the public school system, I'm not convinced that it's the right place for him to be. So I am considering private school where he would have smaller classroom sizes and (Hopefully) more one-on-one attention.

    On the flip side however, private schools are just that - private. *I* may think it's the best place for my son, but if they don't want to deal with him then will simply refuse him admittance. Public schools do not have that luxury, so I have a certain amount of respect and sympathy for the fact they do have to deal with kids like my son, and I do feel they are trying their best to meet his needs.
  8. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    I'm a product of private school as I attended private institutions my entire academic career from Pre-K through graduate school. There are pros and cons on both sides and it's really hard to compare the educational systems across state lines as there can be vast differences. Let's also not forget that public schools are highly dependent upon the socioeconomic factors associated with their location. Likewise, the goals of the parents and the student also play a role in determining the best educational setting. Some choose schools for academics, some for athletics, some for fine arts, some for tradition, some for reasons of faith, and some for social interaction.

    I say all of this to highlight that there are numerous factors involved that make such a discussion highly individualized. My son started kindergarten this year at the public elementary school down the street from our house. My wife did all of the research and that school is ranked second in the district. It has a great student to teacher ratio, good teachers, a good principal, and demonstrates positive test scores. However, the best elementary school in the district is only a few more miles from our home and thus we are putting in an application for transfer next year. If we had the money there is a private school in the area that we would definitely consider putting our son in, but at the moment we can't afford it.

    The most important thing in any child's education is for the parents to be actively involved. There are problems in every school, both public and private. Parents shouldn't just leave it up the school, but do everything they can to be aware of what is being taught and what is going on with their child in all areas.
  9. bobfitz14 macrumors 65816


    Oct 14, 2008
    yeah. i went to a private high school and my parents paid taxes for my town's public school as well as my private school's tuition.

    i know one awesome benefit of the school i went to is networking. my high school has a pretty awesome alumni network. i didn't necessarily enjoy my high school 100% of the time (i lost a lot of freedom) but i think it's probably the best decision of my life thus far.

    i think there are a lot of variables that factor into whether or not some one would be better off in a private school. i know for my case, private school > public school.
  10. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I went to public school from K-12, went to a state university and did just fine. Inner city public schools might not be wonderful, but I grew up in the suburbs and went to great schools.
  11. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    I'm both a product of public education and a retired public school teacher. I taught Special Ed for 22 years starting in the '70s and saw a lot of change in how curriculum came to be.

    When I started, I was given a budget and a student roster. I chose the materials and teaching methods based on how well my students were able to handle it. By the end of my career, all of this had moved over to district decision making. We were expected to use the same materials as the general ed population and prepare for the same state-wide standardized tests. These materials and tests were chosen and developed by upper level people who didn't spend their days in the classroom.

    This has had a wonderful impact on the schools in the Tacoma, Washington area where I currently live. Something like half of the public elementary and secondary schools are on the last leg of the Federal NCLB "Needs Improvement" scale. If they can't raise their test scores, drastic measures will be imposed on them including dismissal of staff and administration at each school.

    One thing that I noticed in my early years teaching in Washington was that there were no grade points required to advance from grade to grade. This is understandable for K-3, but not any grade higher. I failed fourth grade based on math skills. I needed to do it over with a little more zest on my part and it worked out fine in the long run. None of my friends seemed to care until I had a drivers permit before they did...:)

    I have a bunch to say about private school, but that will have to wait.

  12. FreeState macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    I only see one major difference between Private and Public Schools. That difference is money. Poverty takes it's biggest toll on education. You get what you pay for. Unfortunately children of poor parents pay the price.
  13. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    City of Angels
    I think the comparison totally depends on the quality of education of the local public school system. Where I'm from, with the exception of a few schools like Taft High, LAUSD is mostly crap. 25% drop out rates, senior class pictures where the entire front row has kids, students graduating who can't speak a word of English. Same goes for schools like Jordan High in Long Beach. I have a coworker who went there who told me once a day gangbangers would yell out their set in the hall. Everyone was expected to drop on the ground and those that didn't got clocked in the head. He also told me he joined the tennis team because tennis players were allowed to carry around their rackets so he was able to have a weapon to defend himself. I wouldn't want my kids at any of these schools

    That being said, I consider myself lucky to have gone to private school.
  14. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    I went to my town's excellent public school K-8 public school, then to a traditional 'name' New England prep school, followed by a private liberal arts college. I didn't have much of a choice until choosing my college, at which point I felt I'd do best at a smaller college. There are certainly good aspects of both, and I like the fact that we're free to choose.

    The main difference I feel there would have been between my local high school and my boarding school is that my school gave you little choice as to whether or not you were going to succeed. SATs were required and scheduled for you, college was not an option but instead the only option. If you fell behind in class, teachers would actively get on your case and help you, if you fell too far behind you were no longer welcome. The public high school at home was more of a get-what-you-make-of-it had a big ag-ed program, and while there was a college track, most weren't on it. Environment can have a major impact on outcomes, and certainly I felt that my private school fostered success. Same story as at elite public schools like Stuyvesant in NYC.
  15. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    Sorry, I should've explained myself better. Would you prefer to have all schools private or public? If all schools were private, none of your taxes would go to education. In that sense, parents would have to pay for their kids' & their kids' education only. If you don't have kids, you won't have to pay for anyone's education.

    I find that with private vs. public, a lot of it depends on implementation. If you have lousy teachers & kids & parents who don't care about education, of course the scores will be bad. But let's say you have good teachers and students who want an education. What does everyone feel about public vs. private and why?
  16. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2008
    If you're a fan of Jefferson, he believed that an education should be available to everyone regardless of circumstance and poor children should be educated at the expense of society.
  17. dscuber9000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2007
    Indiana, US
    I may be biased since both my parents (and step-parents) work for public schools. :D But there is a bad combination of (some) schools spending money poorly and overall schools not getting enough money. At least, that's how it is in Indiana. It very much differs from state to state.

    If there were no public schools, America would collapse. Simple as that. People would be born into whichever class their parents are and there would be absolutely no way for people to improve. We almost have that already with higher education costs being extremely high and only getting higher, but just imagine what it would be like if that were the case with high schools and down.
  18. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    I believe that. And hopefully, the poor children will be able to reimburse society in some way. Maybe not directly and maybe not immediately. As long as society gets better because of that education, I'll be happy.

    I agree. With education, there are two problems: not having enough money & resources as well as not using the resources they already have as efficiently as possible.

    I don't know if everybody born to their parents' class will necessarily stay in that class. There have been many poor or homeless people guys who've made something of themselves, even when they don't have an education. There's been a few sports stars, and that homeless guy who's made the news recently about having a great radio voice or whatever.

    Also, there have been a few rich people who squandered their money and had to file for bankruptcy. So I think staying in or changing one's class isn't totally tied to one's level of education.
  19. iBlue, Feb 11, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011

    iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    I think it depends on the available schools in the area/districts. Some are great, some aren't. The cruel irony being that the lousy areas with lousy schools often have people who can't afford to send their kids to a private and better school. Life can be like that.

    I went to public and private schools. Truth be told, as a kid, I preferred public. My biggest reason? (Generally) I could wear what I wanted.* Sometimes it's the little things. There's also this amusing theory that kids won't get into as much trouble in private school. I found that it's just better funded naughtiness.

    I lucked out with the public schools I had in my area but nevertheless I'm a believer in the public system. I'm a bigger believer in choice. Public and private both have their places.

    *in case my location confuses anyone, I wasn't raised in the UK, where I've never seen kids in school without uniforms.
  20. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I went to a private school, and didn't have to study much for my first year of Engineering classes (chem, physics, calc, english).

    Also, my friend who went through the public school system, went because her parents could get involved in the school board and to a certain degree control what was being taught.

    Going to private school, I missed out on things like marching band (would have loved to have marched in drum line), missed out on football games (my school was quaker and didn't believe in violence), but I gained knowledge, and it was a safer environment - eg. no hard drugs - than my local public school.

    my 2¢.
  21. 63dot, Feb 11, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011

    63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    I am with the OP in that they both have their pros and cons.

    In my cash strapped California county, which came under some scrutiny by the national media, a lot of money was not being spent properly in part of the local public school system. Some lack of attention was an issue with us being a small town and ignoring the what seemed to be only a big city gang problem and now our homicide rate is several times of that of a national, nearby large city (although the safest large city in America...San Jose).

    But being many times smaller, when the actual homicides is a quarter of a city 20 times it's size, there's an issue so we have five times the actual rate. And most of the homicides have involved what appear to be neglected public school kids in this largely middle class public school system. There's a lot of debate on who to blame.

    But how many people can afford private middle and high school? ... but then who can afford not to go to them in our county for the safety of their kids?

    Also for public college, we also have had our issues. Cal Berkeley, not due to their own ineptness but a lot due to former governor, has had to deal with non-PhD professors and too-large classes diminishing the quality of what was once a great school. There is no doubt that nearby, private Stanford is better but then again cost becomes an issue. When we at Cal tried to get a medical school, and we had the will and backing of many of us folk in the Bay Area, many GOP governors didn't come up with "help" and some, you know who, wanted to further cut back on Cal and other publicly funded colleges. Instead, they wanted to build more prisons!

    Also, we lost Lawrence Livermore and now our law school, which has produced many fine attorneys from low income backgrounds right here in the Bay Area (thus passing savings onto many local low income via better rates and pro bono), had to restructure and future funding is in peril.

    I understand where Californians don't want to have their taxes increased for University of California but so many I know have left that or Cal State system to go private. And because most students and/or parents are not made out of money, they go into debt going to a private university and many go to private secondary school to even get "seen" by said private colleges.

    I am a product of both public and private schools and colleges but of late, the public schools in California has gone to the dogs, with no help from the stupid "govenator".

    For far too many students and parents in California, they have to choose between low cost (public) and increasingly lower quality/safety, and high cost (private) and debt. Just like Macs vs. Dells I guess you get what you pay for. But with education, it shouldn't have to be this way.
  22. Gelfin macrumors 68020


    Sep 18, 2001
    Denver, CO
    I guess I don't see why it's a "debate." Both options exist. Either can be good or bad. When I was growing up, the public schools in the area were terrible. No advanced courses, basically just a holding pen for redneck kids until they could legally go to work in the mills. My mother taught in the private school, and we ate a lot of beans and skipped vacations so my sister and I could go there. I owe a lot to that school and particular teachers.

    Now, though, the mills are closed, the public schools have improved because they can't afford not to, and the new headmaster at the private school is trying to turn it into a stereotypical evangelical southern Christian academy, and driving out the teachers who did me the most good because they don't fit the new vision. I am sad to say I wouldn't send a child there now.

    Either way, you make the best choice you can to do right by your kids.
  23. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    I went through the state school system (confusingly, private schools are called public schools here in the UK!), but my daughter goes to private school.

    I earn a good salary (in the top 5% of the UK) but wouldn't describe myself as rich and we have had to make sacrifices in order to pay for her schooling (which works out at around £10,000 per year), but these are sacrifices that are, IMO, worth making because you only get one shot at an education so why not make it the best possible one you can afford?

    It's not ideal, because there should be the opportunity for a decent education for everyone irrespective of wealth but we live in the real world and money does make a difference.

    On the subject of should all education be state funded or private, I don't think you could ever make an education all privately funded because you really would end up with an uneducated class where their parents couldn't afford to pay for any education at all
  24. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    That sounds incredibly condescending.
  25. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    In NYC, most of the public schools here are utterly useless and if you sent your child to one they'd have to overcome numerous disadvantages to get into college -- if they even wanted to. Most of the teachers and staff at the public schools just assume that all their students will become dental assistants and security guards and so they set the "curriculum" accordingly. This is because the teachers union is so powerful here, its basically impossible to fire a teacher for incompetence. There are a few shining exceptions, but they are just that. Upcoming budget cuts are pending and most of the new teachers hired in the last 5 years will likely be laid off due to seniority rules. What should happen are the incompetent teachers should be canned -- but of course the union is against that. The union doesn't care at all about the students--only itself. On the other hand, a well run, well funded public school can be superior to a private school in other areas.

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