private vs public education

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Over the years, the controversy on public and private schools has drawn many debates on their merits and demerits.

While both have their advantages, none of them is considered to be better than the others, especially in the US. The state supports public schools, which means that parents do not have to pay for their schooling. On the other hand, parents fund their programs in private schools by paying school fees. As such, parents who do not have a restriction on income typically choose private schools. According to a recent survey, about 10% of the student population in the US is enrolled in private schools (Ingersoll, Merrill & Stuckey, 2014). Some of the reasons explaining why some parents prefer to take their children to private school include religion, desire for a more student- focused learning environment characterized by small class size among others. It is within this context that the paper will explore the benefits and drawbacks of both public and private schools in the US. The paper is in support of public education, and thus it will strive to make a case in favor of public schools.

Cost of Education

As earlier indicated, the government usually finances public schools through the taxes and thus the parents do not have to pay for the tuition thus this implies that public schools are cost effective. The US government has a strong tax collection system and thus there are few loopholes that can be exploited to evade tax. This implies that almost everyone pays tax that is used to support public amenities. Through the taxes, the government has greatly invested in the public school system to ensure quality education is provided to the learners (Booker, Gilpatric, Gronberg & Jansen, 2008). As such, parents who take their children to private schools rarely benefits from government programs aimed at improving the quality of education in public schools since they end up paying for their children education yet they also pay taxes that are used to finance public schools. However, as explained by Austin & Garber (2014), whether to enroll a child in either private or public school depends on the parents' financial capacity.

Quality of Education

As pointed out further by Austin & Garber (2014), educators in both private and public schools strive to provide a suitable learning environment for the learners. This implies that in both public and private schools, the quality of education is highly prioritized by the school administrators. In the US, there are both excellent public schools as there are private schools. On numerous occasions, private schools have been ranked highly although public schools do not lag behind as they strive to provide affordable quality education. However, despite this fact, most of these top ranking private schools charge exorbitant tuition fees that can only be afforded by the affluent. As such due to the affordability of public schools, children from different background can access education.

Teachers' Certification

In public schools, teachers' certification is greatly emphasized unlike in private schools. In all public schools across the US, the teachers are required to meet certain federal and state requirements before they are enlisted in public schools. Thus this implies that teachers in public school are highly qualified than in private schools where little emphasis is placed on the teachers' certification. However, this is not the case in most prestigious private schools where quality is emphasized (Gathorne-Hardy, 2014). As such, these prestigious schools are more likely to enlist highly qualified teachers as they target the affluent parents who are more concerned with the learning environment their students are subjected to as well as the quality level of education. In short, given the few the number of such prestigious schools in the US, it is in order to presume that unlike public schools most teachers in private schools do not have to be state certified.


Most private schools across the US employ selective admission. This implies that admission to the certain private schools is usually done on the grounds of uniformity and thus not all children receive admission in some of these schools. For instance, religion-based private schools only admit students from certain religion and revokes applications from students from other religions. This is not the case in public schools, which encourage diversity regardless of the student's race, religion, cultural background or academic capability. Currently, the US population comprised of people from diverse cultures, ethnic, race, and religion (Booker, Gilpatric, Gronberg & Jansen, 2008). Thus, children that are enrolled in private schools that do not promote diversity are not usually well prepared on how to best relate with people from diverse backgrounds. However, by promoting diversity, public schools allow students to learn and interrelate with other students from diverse background thus they become well prepared socially and are able to cope better in the real world.

Special Needs

As noted by Austin & Garber (2014), all public schools are required by the government to enroll students with special needs. This implies that most public schools have programs that are instituted to cater for students with special needs (Austin & Garber, 2014). In addition, the schools have teachers trained to deal with such students. However, this is not the case in private schools, which are not under any legal obligation to accept students with special needs. As such, most private schools do not offer programs for children with special needs nor does it have teachers that are trained to deal with such a population. However, there are private schools that are exclusively designed for children with special needs. As noted by Green, Baker & Oluwole (2014), other private schools can make extra effort to help students with special needs once they are admitted, but this usually comes at an additional charge. Other private schools recommend the parent to take their children to other institutions that cater for special needs children. In short, public schools are all-rounded and thus are suitable for the entire population.


The curriculum used in both private and public school usually varies. Public schools must adhere to the curriculum provided by the State as well as the stipulated teaching procedures. Theoretically, this provides a particular level of quality control since learning in all public schools is standardized. Conversely, private schools set their own curriculum and thus are not subject to certain state guidelines. This could both be beneficial and disastrous since it set lower or higher standards for students. In addition, private schools can avoid standardization test designed by regulatory bodies to foster uniformity in the education sector.


In conclusion, it is solely the decision of the parent whether to take his/her child to a private or a public school. Some of the factors ranging from religion, financial capacity and academic ability of the child may influence this decision. However, based on the discussion provided above, the paper is in favor of public schools specifically in developed countries such as the US where the government has shown immense commitment to elevating the quality of public education.


Austin, G. R., & Garber, H. (Eds.). (2014). Research on exemplary schools. Academic Press.

Booker, K., Gilpatric, S. M., Gronberg, T., & Jansen, D. (2008). The effect of charter schools on traditional public school students in Texas: Are children who stay behind left behind?. Journal of Urban Economics, 64(1), 123-145.

Gathorne-Hardy, J. (2014). The Public School Phenomenon: 597–1977. Faber & Faber.

Green, P. C., Baker, B. D., & Oluwole, J. (2014). Having it both ways: How charter schools try to obtain funding of public schools and the autonomy of private schools.

Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & Stuckey, D. (2014). Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force. Updated April 2014. CPRE Report.# RR-80. Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Lubienski, C. A., & Lubienski, S. T. (2013). The public school advantage: Why public schools outperform private schools. University of Chicago Press.

October 13, 2022

School Political Science

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