Public or Private Elementary School?

Updated on January 15, 2012
K.S. asks from Canton, MI
16 answers

We are checking out schools for my daughter next year. She'll be in kindergarten. Please give me your pros and cons of both.

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answers from Chicago on

We are pro private education. Public school teachers are very left leaning, especially in my state of Obamaland. We also want the religious aspect of education along with the higher standards.

We live in a very good school district. We pay a lot in property taxes. However, we still choose private school.

I say if you can afford it, more than likely private school is the way to go.

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answers from Dallas on

You can't really say if one is better than the other. A lot of it has to do with the quality of public and private schools in your area, your family, your child, etc. There are pros and cons to both, you have to weigh out what is best for your family.

Our area has a lot of good private schools and our public school system is one of the top ranked. We went with public because we know our daughter is getting a thorough education. Her Sr. High school which is only 11-12 grades is rated in the top 1% of high schools in the nation. You can't say that for all districts.

If we were not in the Plano ISD, we would either send our daughter to private school or move to Highland Park in Dallas because Highland Park ISD is excellent. One of the primary reasons we chose Plano to live was the school system.

Secondly, another reason we chose to go and stay private is that we wanted our daughter to have a more diversified and balanced education. Private schools can be very good but it can also lead to some sheltering of the students from the "real world". I mean this as students leave the protected environment of private school to enter college, they will meet other students that are very different and they will have to learn how to get along, network, etc with ALL types of people.

I suggest you visit the schools you are considering WHILE SCHOOL IS IN SESSION and get a feel for how they are run. Also, look into the scores of students on State testing. What percentage of students go to college from the high school level.

Whatever you choose, get involved, volunteer and support your school.

That's just a couple of thought from my perspective. Good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

Aside from cost and class size, really evaluate each school. If the scores are high or low, find out why. My SD's elem. school was lower than another but she had more ESL kids. The school itself was one of the ones that did more with art and music, which she excelled in. We loved all but one teacher and the principal was great. She knew all the kids by name. Some schools are private but don't have certified teachers, or don't really prepare the kids for the next step. There's one private school I'd send DD to locally, in part because I know families who have sent their kids there, I like the values, feel the education is quality. Not that I can afford it, but if I did pick on, it would be that one. There are others that I feel are too snotty, aren't going to give DD the education she needs, etc. My own private elementary school would only have gone to 8th grade and while I feel I had a good foundation, it was very small and I was starting to feel excluded from cliques by 4th grade and with so few kids, it was hard to find new friends.

Each school is different. Even w/in a district, my SD picked a school that was not her "home" school to attend a particular art program.

Visit the schools and talk to the staff and get a feel for each one. There is no perfect school, but maybe one will feel like a better fit. And no choice has to be permanent. You can change as your child's needs change or your finances change. You can be involved and know the teachers in a public school as well as private.

Some public schools use uniforms and some private schools don't. I never wore a uniform but my nephew and sks did (public and private schools). There are pros and cons to each. My SD is certainly an individual, but she still has a dress code.

I've done both and my stepkids did both. My SS is in college now on a scholarship after a mostly public education. My DH and I have college degrees. I think we've done pretty well.

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answers from Redding on

I don't think you can just categorically say one is better than the other. There are amazing public schools and cruddy private schools and vice versa.
You will have to research and compare the specific schools you are considering.

I have a friend who, as a single mom, was working two jobs to be able to have her kids in a private school. She ultimately realized she was killing herself more for the prestige and the "reputation" and put her kids in public school. They did great and she wished she'd done it sooner.

Class size, curriculum, policies...they are things to consider with ANY school.

Just my opinion.
Best wishes.

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answers from Boston on

One of our daughters has dyslexia. While it was a lot of work to convince the public school, they did eventually give her supports for her dyslexia. We live in a smallish town with a shared school district with the next small town, class sizes are reasonable, parents are involved, teachers are caring, buildings are fairly well maintained, and principals/teachers have newsletters as well a websites to share info. Unlike the poster below said, there is a strict behavior policy in place in our public school that both the student and the parents must sign, which includes skirts and shorts at least 1" longer than where your fingers hang with your arm hanging down, straps on tanktops wider than 2", no pants for boys where the underwear shows, etc. Kids have been sent home if they are dressed inappropriately.
But if your local public school does not have a good reputation, then perhaps check out private schools. And not every private school is the same: we have ones that specialize in certain things (dyslexia, religion, adhd, general education, etc).
I would visit various schools near you, both public and private, and ask to speak to parents whose kids attend there. You will also have to consider the financial impact. The ideal school for my dyslexic daughter is not only an hour's drive away but costs $40K per year. We all do the best we can for our kids, but sometimes the very best is out of reach.

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answers from Dallas on

Depends on the child and their personality/learning style. I would always opt for public school if possible. I believe we should support and help improve the public school system. However if it fails us, then we need to go elsewhere. If you live in an area with a good school system then I would say why pay for schooling? If your child is happy in a school and you offer what you can at home, then I think public is great. If your child is unhappy...... time to move on.

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answers from Cumberland on

Private-longer days, higher standards, smaller classes

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answers from San Francisco on

It depends on so much.
We have excellent public schools here so I never even considered private, I mean why spend the extra money? That's why our house was so expensive, lol!
Private SOMEtimes means better: smaller class sizes, more personal attention, a more well rounded (art, music, etc.) education.
But sometimes private is just harder: more rigorous academic work, stricter discipline, etc.
It depends on what you are looking for, what matters to you in an education and what your child's individual needs are. A child with learning or social delays may not do as well in an overcrowded, underfunded inner city school, for example.
Start looking at the public schools first and go from there.

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answers from Chicago on

I think there are a lot of factors to consider: Do you live in a good school district? What are the class sizes at the public school? Do you know anyone in your neighborhood that you can ask specific questions to about the public school? Then weigh this information against the private schools you're interested in. For us, the decision was easy-we live in a bad school district. My children attend a Catholic school and we love it. The class sizes are smaller, the curriculum is challenging, the kids learn morals and values, the discipline is strict, and I love the uniform (it really eliminates the battles about what they can wear to school). All of my kids will attend this school through 8th grade, even if we move into a better school district.

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answers from Washington DC on


Go to:

It's hard to give you pros and cons of a school district that we don't live in. If you are looking for information and what people think of public and private schools?

Private schools - paying tuition to have more control over your child's learning and education...usually has better teachers because they are paid better. down side? you are double paying for your childs education (well, if you pay taxes, you are double paying as your state taxes pay for public schools).

Public schools - some of them are great! Really - some of them suck. it all depends upon the district and everything else....more focused on passing tests than actually educating your child...yes, they can get educated...but I'm stating a fact...they "educate towards passing tests"

Do you have the money to pay for private school?
What are you looking for in a school?
Many (not all) private schools are religious so your child is receiving a religious education as well. So much depends upon what you are looking for. If you say "the best" - well - nothing will be the "best" nothing is perfect and you will find good, great, bad and worse people there - just like you will ANYWHERE!

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answers from Chicago on

They can both be good or bad. Your kids will get out of whatever school you put them in exactly what you as a parent put into it. If you from the start make it clear that school is their job and that it comes first then they will work hard at it and do well. if you don't make that clear from the start they won't do well.

My oldest three went to private catholic school from k-8th grade. I loved it. They came out with stellar educations, good manners and a solid religious education to boot. The solid foundation made them do well in highschool and college. I knew all the teachers and staff and all my kids friends. Any and all parental help / involvement was not only appreciated it was actively sought. on the flip side because it was a private school not public they were limited in some of the activities and perks which public schools get. The sports stuff was a lot less. The extras / specials that are available in the public school were just not there/available unless I put them into extra curricular stuff and paid separately for it.

my youngest son had speech issues and was put into early bird program at the public school at 3 years old. when he was 5 we moved to a new town. the public school was literally 500 feet from our front door to the schools front door. we would have had to drive him to the next town over to do the private school. we opted to put him in public school. he was diagnosed with adhd and some learning disabilities. he would not have gotten any help with these in the private school but the public school had lots of programs / help with this type of problem. they had a lot of specials / extra curricular stuff that the kids could take advantage of right in the school district. the education while not bad is not in anyway the same as the other school. I am basing this not only on my sons education but on my grandsons education. also the public schools hands are tied in what they use as discipline policy. if little johnny wants to wear in a blood splashed / zombie shirt its ok cause its his creativity showing. if they want to bring cell phones to school ummmm ok we don't want to stifle them. that is not the case in catholic school, they wear uniforms and behave themselves or get consequences which are followed through on. public schools are usually a lot bigger also which can be a good or bad thing.

when my sons hit high school one went to a catholic prep school the other went to public high school. the oldest graduated from college last spring and has a great job, the next son will graduate this spring and already has the great job lined up. next son is a sophomore in highschool. doing well. I would have preferred him to have attended the private school but not all kids are cut out for it.

So unless your looking for the religious aspect or your public schools are not good then they will do well in either.

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answers from Williamsport on

TOTALLY depends on your school district, your public school, and the quality of your local private school. They all vary so much!

Stereotypically, a good private school would be better than an average public school because kids would get more individualized attention and more of a specialized style depending on the school-religious, Mottessori, whatever. But that's not always the case.

A good public school is a great foundation for younger grades and you can save $ for later years.

Our local public school is very bad, and the private one near us isn't much better, so I'm homeschooling for kindergarten. It took a lot of research into both schools to make that decision though. I would probably pick public over private if I had a good public one near me.

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answers from Omaha on

There are a lot of factors involved to make this kind of decision. I live in an area that has a plethora of parochial schools and private schools. I am also a former public school teacher so I have hands-on experience with the public sector as well. For my family our decision to enroll our children in the public school district we live in comes down to these factors: student/teacher ratio is excellent, resources are plentiful, and schools are clean and in excellent condition. Parents, teachers and students are very involved and motivated to do whatever it takes to make each child's educational experience successful. Bond and levy issues always pass, even if it means taxes will increase, because it is for the good of the students (which in turn keeps property values at a competitive level as well). There is a high percentage of teachers with graduate degrees while student test scores are high and dropout rate is low. Over 90% of students attend college. Yes there is a lot in the media about how broken our public education system is, and while some of that is true, it mustn't be applied as a blanket statement for all schools. My kids are 4 and 2.5, so we have a few more years before we enter into that season of life. Our school is literally minutes from our house and nearly all of the neighbor kids attend there. I grew up with that kind of continuity and think it is SO vital to a child's sense of community and security. Good luck with your decision! I am sure you will make one that suits your family wonderfully!

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answers from Austin on

Tell us about the schools and then we can tell you.

In our neighborhood, our public schools are excellent. Saved us a fortune. I was also able to be very involved on all levels.

Our daughter graduated as a National Merit Scholar, applied to 9 top level colleges and was accepted to all of them.. She will graduate this spring as a Double major with honors.

Before she started kinder I looked into all sorts of private schools and our neighborhood schools. I felt like I would be able to be very involved in our neighborhood schools. I liked the idea that her friends would all be close by and we would be a part of this community. I liked their mission statement. I liked the Kinder teachers I met. I only heard good things about the school.

I also liked a few of the private schools, but the price would have meant I would have to continue to work full time to pay fr it. I also would have to drive her out of the neighborhood. That means before school and for all of thier programs in the evenings and weekends.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think if you can easily afford private school for her entire academic years then go private. You will have smaller classes and perhaps a better education. If you cannot EASILY afford it then go public, find the best scores in your district and put them in that school.


answers from New York on

It really depends on the particular schools. Whether private or public Some schools are better than others. My neighbors go to a private school where the class size is larger than the public schools. She likes the fact that all students come from a similar, higher SES background. Other people want their children exposed to more diversity at school. It also depends on the needs of your child. Children with special needs get more support in public schools where there are more programs.

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