While there are advantages and disadvantages to both private and public schools, defining them depends on your perspective. Your own educational values and background mean you will weight some factors more heavily than others. For example, if learning about particular religion is important, you may lean towards religious schools, while you might prefer a public school for the opportunity to learn with a diverse group of students.
Counting the Cost
A major disadvantage of private schools for most people is their cost. Since they are not funded by tax dollars, they have to charge tuition. The average yearly tuition costs for a private secondary school may be $10,000 or even higher. Since public schools receive their funding from property taxes or other taxes, you are already paying for your local public schools, though they may charge extra fees for extracurricular activities and supplies.
Quality of Education
Many people assume that the quality of education at private schools is better than that at public schools. However, some studies suggest this might not always be true. The quality of education depends on the school. When considering either a public or private school, it is important to tour the school and meet teachers, so you can see the facilities available and can get a feel for the school atmosphere and the faculty.
Identifying Learning Goals
What students will learn -- the educational objectives -- at public schools is easy to determine, as public schools must adhere to state requirements and directives. Private schools may create their own curriculum, which may be an advantage or a disadvantage. For example, religious schools may include specific religious teachings as a part of their curriculum. If you do not agree with these teachings, then you are likely to perceive this as a disadvantage.
Playing Educational Politics
Since public schools are regulated and funded by the state, they can be subjected to political whims and cuts. An economic downturn might force states and localities to the budgets for public secondary schools, resulting in larger class sizes and reduced resources. However, this will differ by state and locality, so check with the public schools in your area to see how they have been affected.
Tracking the Transportation
Public schools often have transportation services to and from the school for their students. Many private schools rely on parents and students to provide their own transportation to the school. This can be problematic for families unable to easily get the children to campus.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images