Public Shool or Private School ?

Updated on September 12, 2011
U.L. asks from Beaverton, OR
11 answers

My son just turned 4 and next year he will be going to kinder. I am puzzled as to the school choices and can't decide if I should enroll him in a public school or a private school?
What are your pros and cons regarding private school and public school?
What are the top 5 things I should consider when making this decision?
Thanks for your help and suggestions!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

My biggest reason for choosing a Private school was the class sizes. My daughter has been in private school since 3 yr old preschool. Her class size was 10 kids w/ two teachers. My daughter has alot of social skills to improve on and i feel her one on one time with the teachers is substantial. Many of the schools in our neighborhood are at capacity of about 30 kids and have huge waiting lists. I feel like the cost increases each year, which has not made it easy, but we make it work because we beleive its the best for our daughter.
Good Luck!

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answers from Tulsa on

Make sure you understand the time that will be spent on homework as the child gets older. We switched to a private school that uses ABEKA and are getting HOURS of homework NIGHTLY. It is insane.

Can you afford it? If you get behind, they do kick you out. If your budget is tight, it will be stressful.

Public school can meet any learning disabilities with trained staff. Private schools are better for students who can learn faster.

Safety and their policy on bullying. Kids are mean. Parents can tell you if the school deters it or ignores it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

Okay, I went to private schools K thru 12, and I taught 3 years at a public middle school. I will try to go through pros and cons of both, although my public school info only reflects what I saw and experienced at a middle school level, not elementary.

Pros: Generally larger population, therefore (in theory) more children for your child to have a chance to bond with; Exceptional Child programs (Special Education as well as "Gifted & Talented"); More teachers, so more chance to do something about a personality issue with a teacher; HOMEwork is generally discouraged (or was at the school I taught at) giving kids with other responsibilities a bit of a reprieve
Cons: Generally larger population, therefore more possibility of "middle of the road" kids (not trouble, not academically outstanding) getting lost in the fray; teachers are more likely to teach to the end of the year exam, which has a tendency to dull the passion of teaching and learning; HOMEwork is generally discouraged which leaves most practice limited to in-class (not good for classes like math, which I taught)

Pros: Generally have high levels of achievement for majority of students; smaller setting, so (in theory) more members of staff/faculty will know you and your family; almost all will have some sort of accelerated programs for advanced children; fewer changes in your kids classes from year-to-year (I graduated 8th grade with 25 of the same kids I had started kindergarten with and we were all in the same class every year) so you can get to know the kids and parents of those kids better; generally fewer major discipline issues; UNIFORMS (or at least a nice dress code; also many public schools have started making a move to uniforms); if they have teacher tenure, it is a more rigorous process than that at public schools
Cons: COST; many are parochial (associated with a particular religion, like Catholicism); there ARE kids who will be at those schools who come from money and ARE snobs (although there are just as many if not more whose parents are middle-class and make a lot of sacrifices to send their kids there); smaller populations, potentially making it harder for your child to find "kindred spirits"

Personally, I favor the private school setting. Academically, I see more opportunities at private schools than at public (obviously, there are exceptions, but as a general rule....). Socially, many will argue that a private school setting is too limited, although I don't feel like I came out of my K-12 years any less exposed to social constructs than anyone else. I DID come out with almost no experience with drugs or alcohol, but not for lack of availability. That just wasn't the group of people I hung out with. (I was a nerd, not a cool kid... :) ) Private schools ARE expensive. But if cost is an issue for you, TALK to them. See if there's any kind of payment plan arrangement that you can set up. I know a friend of mine whose mom sent all four of her kids to our gradeschool was on a payment plan with the school. Sometimes, she had to talk with them and make adjustments to the payments, but they were willing to work with her.

HTH, and best of luck with your decision!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Check the schools ratings... just b/c it is private doesn't make it better then public. It is about how they teach and how well they teach. Also check out a Charter school - it may be another option.

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answers from Kansas City on

Just recently there was a very similar question. Below is my answer then, copied here.

We live in an area where our public schools are some of the best in the country. But for a variety of reasons, moved our kids to private and never looked back.

Here's a little different perspective. When we put our children in a private school our son was starting 6th grade and our daughter 1st. I wish over and over, we would have done it sooner so he would have had the same foundation she's had. One of the other posters pointed out how generally, private schools teach 1-2 grade levels above public. That is true in our case as well. Our son did have a little catching up to do, but did fine. When we met with his English teacher that first year and asked about getting a tutor, she said he was catching up just fine. And that she was teaching this 6th grade class what she used to each in 8th grade in one of the local public systems. That was English.
When our daughter hit 6th grade several years later, we found out the science was advanced as well. She had a little boy in her class who's mother taught 8th grade science in a different local public system. She was teaching her 8th grade students the same thing her 6th grader was learning.

Yes, my husband and I did just fine in the public schools. But I will tell you that I wish now I would have had the education they are getting. And yes, we are very fortunate that we are able to provide the private education.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My child goes to a good private school. The school is outstanding in the rankings. The public schools rank below average.

Pros of private school: the teachers are great, and their time is not being taken away from teaching and nurturing children by dealing with a lot of discipline problems found in some public schools. It has been a fantastic start to my child's schooling, and his whole being has been fostered including academic, social and physical. It has been outstanding. The facilities are far better at this school than the local public schools. The kindies have foreign language classes, and an excellent music program. My child is happy and involved.

Cons of private school: It's expensive! Very expensive. If you don't have a lot of money there might be some social 'differences' between your child and other children. For instance, we have a small, modest house, while most of the other children in my child's class have large houses, pools, trips overseas etc. Maybe it's just me that feels the difference.

On the other hand, I attended only public schools, and I am successful in my career, and have post-graduate degrees. It didn't do me any harm!



answers from Augusta on

it totally depends on the child and the schools.
For example we have a great public school system in our county. And our school happens to be one of the best ( even if I don't like some of their policies we have great teachers). The local private school has on their website , that rock and roll music is evil. And we can't afford private school, so this was a decision for us.



answers from New York on

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I suggest you make a list and then decide what's best for your child and your family.

Some things to consider...
cost - can you afford it, not just for this year but for 8 more, is it worth it to you?
homework - not much to consider at this point, but as they get older, private schools tend to load up the kids
fund raising - it public school it's optional, private required
your school district - our school district doesn't have good test scores and higher class sizes, but we've got some great teachers and my kids are getting a good education - my girlfriend lives in a "good" school district but has had lots of problems with her school
extras - does the private school your looking into offer the types of clubs, arts, and sports your child is interested in - we ruled out one private school because they had a very limited music program
diversity - in many cases private schools have snobby students and parents, however we considered a private school because our high school has a reputation of being "ghetto"
public school - my kids can walk, easy to stay after for programs/make up work, etc - private school - need to spend an hour a day on a bus



answers from Seattle on

I have seen tremendous successes in every form of schooling. I have seen tremendous failures in every form of schooling. There is no form of schooling that is "best" for all kids. There is no teacher that is "best" for all kids.

The only real question is: what is the best match for your child? That requires a lot of research, observing your child carefully, figuring out your own values around education, talking to other parents, and doing some classroom observations.

Do not put too much emphasis on school ratings. Those ratings can be gamed dishonestly in so many different ways it's not even funny. A school with low ratings may be the one that is the most committed to educating all the kids. The school with high ratings may be the one that kicks out anyone who doesn't score well and doesn't give a rip about anyone's education.

Remember that you can change your mind if your first plan doesn't work out well.

Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I was k-8 public, 9 - college private catholic. I loved the public schools and had great experiences meeting people of different faiths, ethnic back ground, etc. all that being said - we have made the decision to send our children to private (catholic) school. Some of the things I've heard from the neighbors re: what's happening in the public schools (we live in a 'good' town and pay a ton of taxes too....) just made the decision easier for us.

Also - uniforms - huge plus! The school being able to discipline the kids - huge plus! The children being able to talk about morals/values/god/say Christmas - huge plus! My aunt worked at a really nice public school in MA and it got so bad that they weren't even allowed to wear holiday sweaters (w/ a Christmas tree on it). Fashion wise who would want to... but you get what I mean!!!



answers from Portland on

One other thing to consider, which might be the best of both worlds and your taxes pay for it: Charter Schools within the district. Check the district web page and look at the list of schools. Any Charter schools should be listed. They have a waiting list and it is based on a lottery system, usually. You should be able to find out info. if you click on the charter school link.

Charter schools tend toward a private school setting to some degree and are a public school. I know Tigard has one charter school and it looks pretty good. They get to teach a curriculum that they choose, rather than what the rest of the district is using. Discipline tends to be less of an issue (though, as a public middle school teacher, a good teacher has good discipline practices and less issues).

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