Joan of Arc Academy / Academie Jeanne d'Arc

Private School Vs Public School

As parents, we want to provide the best for our children. As they reach school age, we are presented with a variety of education choices including public school, private school or homeschooling. How do we choose between these options?

OurKids.net published an informative article talking about the differences between a public and private school. This is a guide for parents to weigh the characteristics of each.

Cost of Education

In North America, we already pay taxes to support the public school system. Most parents ask the question, “Why would we pay tuition as well?” In fact, many provinces offer tax breaks to parents who send their children to a private school, rather than a public school. As a parent or a family, you need to determine what is achievable in your circumstances. Can you comfortably afford to send your child to a private school? Do you view a private school that supports religious faith as invaluable?  Do you think the best things in life are free – or do you believe you get what you pay for?

Admission Process

Most private schools have a selective admission process which requires testing before admittance. This controls student enrollment to allow those who are able to meet the demands of an advanced curriculum.

On the other hand, public schools allow all students, regardless of any factors.

In a private school, students will perform near the same level, whereas public students range in academic performance.

Student Population at Private vs. Public School

In most areas, your children will attend public school with other kids from the same area. When parents choose a private school, they often do so based on their desire to give their children a specific peer group, whether that is based on discipline, cultural or religious background, or philosophical beliefs.

In most private schools, students are excluded or expelled if they do not adhere to the school’s policies or standards.

Class Size in Public vs. Private Schools

Overcrowding of public school classrooms is one of the most common complaints about the public education system, a significant problem that inspires parents to seek private school alternatives.

School Governance

Because they do not use public funds (or in some areas, less funds), private schools are not as restricted in their program development or curricula. Private schools are not subject to outside budget limitations.

This freedom allows private schools to develop their own curricula. As long as parents agree with the intellectual, philosophical or religious basis brought to the curricula, this independence from ‘outside interference’ is seen as a great advantage of private schools over public.

On the other hand, public schools use curricula designed to include all students, thus invoking in them a tolerance for others. Learning in both public and private schools is measured through standardized testing.

Public School vs. Private: Quality of Education

Private school and public school administrators and educators all do their best to create the best learning environment possible. There are excellent public schools and there are excellent private schools.

In Canada, the Fraser Institute ranks schools, often finding favour with private schools, although it does highly rank some public schools. In the USA, the situation is similar: there are good public schools, but many of the best overall schools are privately funded. A study by Harvard University found that private school students averaged higher than their public school counterparts in standardized tests in 11 of 12 comparisons of students.