Many parents spend their time investigating public school districts and trying to decide which one would be suitable for their future or current children. The idea of sending their kids to a private school can sometimes be out of the question, whether for religious or monetary reasons. Public schooling provides many benefits that private schooling cannot.
For my parents, it was quite the opposite. I was sent to three different private schools from Kindergarten to 10th grade. They believed it was important for me to have a religious foundation, and they paid thousands of dollars each year for my education.
In 11th grade, I decided to switch to public schooling. It was the type of atmosphere I was not used to, and the education itself was more demanding. With that being said, I’m glad I switched.
Different types of private schools vary. On the website for the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), there is a list of 17 unique categories of private schools, “which collectively represent about 80 percent of the private school community nationwide.”
The website also lists the benefits of public schooling, stating that “school safety”, “savings to taxpayers”, “community service” and “high achievement” are just a few.
While I do concur that these are benefits, they have their downsides. Let’s take reduction on taxes, for example. For a portion of time, my brother and I both attended private school. However, my parents were still required to pay public school taxes. Not only were they spending money on our private education, but also on an education irrelevant to us.
For some parents, academic standards (a benefit listed on CAPE’s website) is of high priority. In an article entitled “Private Schools vs. Public Schools – Experts Weigh In” by John S. Kiernan on Wallet Hub, Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, stated, “Peer-reviewed studies repeatedly have identified modest academic benefits from these programs. Many subgroups of students who switch to private schools record higher test scores. In Milwaukee, those who persist are much more likely than their neighboring public school peers to graduate on time and even to stay out of trouble with the law. Most studies across the nation also find [that] exposure to private education moves students towards greater social tolerance, community volunteerism and participation in the political process.”
In contradiction to this, the article states, “But academic research indicates only modest differences in the achievement levels of private-school and public-school students…A subsequent study by the Center on Education Policy similarly found no statistically significant difference in the performance of students at private schools, parochial schools, public schools of choice and traditional public schools. It did, however, conclude that, ‘Family, in all of its dimensions, has a major influence on student achievement.’”
In all honesty, I’ve found that I received a more demanding and rigorous education at a public school. There were more options and opportunities for me to explore, such as taking nearly 30 AP classes and participating in numerous extracurriculars.
I submerged myself in diverse classes and became an active member of the student body. Although I cannot say for certain that the reason I did this was because of the increase in opportunities, I did take advantage of them because they were available.
To touch on DeGrow’s comment, I found that public school provided me with a more diverse atmosphere, both ethnically and politically, as it seemed that my political views did not align with a majority of my classmates. In both aspects, I was considered the minority.
The individuals in my classes were extremely passionate about their political views, which inspired me to speak out regarding my beliefs. I learned more about not only my own views, but also the views of the other side of the political spectrum. I do personally believe that if had I remained in private schooling, I would not be as well-educated in a political sense.
I also feel that, in my public school specifically, I learned a “greater social tolerance,” as DeGrow puts it. A majority of the students at my private school were of the same ethnicity. There was little diversity–quite the opposite of my public school. The white population consisted of less than 35 percent of the student body, as stated by Public School Review, versus, according to Great Schools, an almost 80 percent at my private school.
Being exposed to an environment with a large diverse population helped me better understand individuals. I worked alongside people whom I would have never gotten to know or be associated with if had I not switched schools. The individuals were from different backgrounds and each had a unique story or struggle. I felt more exposed to the world and educated in a diversity sense.
Overall, I found that attending public school exposed me to the world more than my private school did. I benefitted socially, academically and economically. However, this is just my personal experience. Everyone adapts and acts differently in divergent environments. Each experience is unique to each individual.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at Asaurman@kscequinox.com
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