Private School or Public School...Which One Is Better?

Updated on June 22, 2008
T.L. asks from Torrance, CA
6 answers

We have twins who will be starting school in the near future. We are debating whether public or private schooling is better. I know that Torrance Unified School District is supposed to be one of the best, but is private better? Which one provides a better education? Will they be too sheltered in private school? Are public school classrooms too overcrowded to get a good quality education? Are the english language learners in the public schools going to hold back the class academically? Are the proposed cutbacks going to effect the classes? We keep changing our minds about private vs. public and I need all the help I can get because our decision will affect our kids for the rest of their lives. Thank you!

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answers from Los Angeles on


Follow your heart on this one because you don't want to look back and think you've made a hugh mistake. I suggest you and your family sit down and list what is important to you: academics, school culture, catering to special needs, religious affiliation, cost, etc. Then, shop around, visit schools and find one that makes you feel comfortable. Really, if you are on top of things (and it sounds like you are), your children will be fine no matter where they go.

To answer your questions though:
I know that Torrance Unified School District is supposed to be one of the best, but is private better? Which one provides a better education? Both differ depending on where you live. Some private schools are wonderful and others are horrible. Same thing goes for public schools.

Will they be too sheltered in private school?
Absolutely not. Sometimes it's better that they are "sheltered" because you do not know what they may be exposed to in public schools.

Are public school classrooms too overcrowded to get a good quality education?
No. Still, it varies from school to school.

Are the english language learners in the public schools going to hold back the class academically?
No. A good teacher will know how to differentiate the teaching for his/her students' learning. English Learners do not hold the class back academically. The teachers who don't teach properly or those who have low expectations do. In fact, it's sometimes better to be in these classes because children learn to respect different cultures and languages.

Are the proposed cutbacks going to effect the classes?
Yes. The economy will too- but this is the same for both public and private.

Best of luck on your decision,



answers from Los Angeles on

I substituted and also taught in the public schools in Paramount, Lakewood, and Bellflower. I find the teachers are usually good, but the students do not have parent support at home in many cases (sometimes because of family structure and sometimes because of culture...not putting school work as high importance, sometimes because they don't know English and can't help the students). Therefore the teachers can not rely on homework and parent support for the students to learn rote items and the time limit in the classroom limits the education. I spent many an enjoyable hour helping my sons learn math facts and having them read to them. The teachers in public schools are stressed by the required tests that reflect on their jobs and they "teach to the test." There is not enough time therefore for growing in music, art, and other areas of culture. We ended up putting our three sons in a Christian school. Although they are not required to meet some standards, the private schools desire to and do really well. Academically they sometimes are harder than public school and more demanding. If a child is slow, they may have problems keeping up and one of my friends moved one of her daughters to public school because it wasn't as stressful and demanding. If a child is bright, they give them a good opportunity to develop and be prepared for college...(down the road). The student learns to do homework and that it is a requirement, not an option. They learn to really study, not just get by. I found the homework my children received harder and more demanding than public school and also feel the "High School exit exam" in CA is very poor...about a 6th grade not HS level test. Ask about the standard tests given in the private school and the scores. They do test them, but teacher's jobs don't ride on whether they have students with learning problems in the class.

If Parents are involved, teachers really concerned about children and open to making time for discussion, and it is easy for parents to participate in many school activities, the education is better. In the public school you have lots of working mom (it is sad that stay at homes are not the mainstream).

In private schools, children usually are pre-screened to make sure they are ready for school. One of my sons was kept back because they felt it would be best. In the public school many start early and are not ready for the fine hand coordination of writing and sitting and learning making it more difficult for the teachers.

Although I do not know the birthday of your children, but since your children are twins they may take a little longer to develop because they were tiny or early birth. (I had a premature son, who did). Make sure they are ready. Also, often twins often are very attached and sometimes have their own language between them. You may want to make sure they get opportunities to play with other children in prep for school.

Read a lot to them too:) It is a very good vocabulary and language builder and more parents need to read, read, read to their children...(sorry for the "band wagaon", it is the teacher in me:)

Finances do come into play, but you have to be willing to sacrifice for the best. Time with your twins is more important than extra toys and clothes. You can make do with a lot less and make it up with more time with them. You could consider homeschooling which is less expensive than private, but make sure you get hooked up with a school or good program (some private schools help out with home schoolers now too especially when they get in the older grades in science by supply opportunities for specific instruction.) Also these programs have opportunities for group outings for education, physical activities and friendships. The personality of you children will determine if this is a good thing to do. One of mine needed to have a teacher other than me:) I would not have been able to give him assignments without a lot of negative interaction.

I hope this may help in your decision. It is always a difficult choice, but can be changed if it isn't working out.



answers from Los Angeles on

(i teach at a private school)

it really depends on ALOT of things. first and foremost, wherever you place your child(ren), you must be their advocate. i would definitely start researching all the questions you have (classroom sizes/student to teacher ratio; testing scores; extra curricular activities; are the teachers highly qualified, etc.).

also, some private schools (like mine) get accredited just like public schools so we have to show and maintain some sense of stability, improvement, etc. in order to remain open. we may not be affected by state budget cuts, but we rely on enrollment for our budget. (low enrollment = low funds..potentially).

you may also want to consider charter schools. many are geared towards specific instruction (where students are in smaller groups; the day might be constructed differently from your average 8am-3pm school day; it may be geared towards something your child(ren) want to do in the future).

hopefully this helps. if you have any specific schools in mind, you may want to post your choices and get some feedback from some parents here that may have their kids at the school you are considering.




answers from Los Angeles on

I am a big supporter of public schools. I am the child of public school teachers and went to public myself. I would look into the academic record of the schools in your area. How are they ranking compared to other schools? Is there a lot of parent involvment at the school (this makes a big difference)? Remember private schools are not held to some of the same standards as public as well. But if the private schools in your area are ranking significately better and you can afford it, it doesn't hurt to try it out. If you are feeling like the kids aren't getting what they should you can always switch.



answers from Los Angeles on

Research shows that it is not the number of children in a classroom whether children succeed or fail; its the number of students attending the whole school that determines this outcome.



answers from Los Angeles on

Have you thought about homeschooling? Coming up soon, there will be a homeschooling convention in Long Beach. You can check out the website

Our youngest daughter has been homeschooled for 9 years now. She will be graduating one year early and wants to become a geneticist. Homeschooling worked for us, however, I realize it is not for everyone. Just food for thought...

Kind regards,

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