private school vs public school - FamilyEducation
private school vs public school
06/02/2007 at 00:39 AM

My son turns 5 in august and I have enrolled him in a local private  christian school, but I have also enrolled him in the public school because I am unsure about which way to go. The private school will only have 15kids max in a classroom , public class is 23 at present max 26 but I am afraid by keeping him in private next year he may have trouble adjusting to public. Private school says that the local public school has their kids reading faster in kindergarten but comprehension and phonics later on are stronger with their students. My son went to a different private school for preschool and I was not impressed and do not want to continue to pay for so-so schooling. Confused HELP.

Hey coffeymom,


It is a hard decision to try to figure out what school is best for your child.  I think you have to look at both schools and try to figure out which one fits better for your son. 


Are the schools in your system good schools?  Do you feel like your son will get his needs met there?  Do you feel that the private school is a better fit?


Anyone else have any suggestions or ideas.




I could not help but respond... I have a 6 yr old just out of Kindg. and a 3 yr old just out of prek 3 class in a private christian school. They are happy, compassionate children who have enjoyed school.  While I continue to question if the money spent is worth while... the one benefit that I continue to come back to is the reinforcement of values and morals that our family instills.  While I do not want to raise my children in a bubble, the public school environment does not do this at all.  The private school combines academics and religion which I like.   I truly believe these first few years of school are crucial in laying the foundation for their continued success in any environment.  I have friends in the public school here who are happy but have concerns about things like witchcraft (can you believe it??) and drugs in their childs first grade class... 

Good luck with your decision... it is nice to read about others struggling with this issue.



We are just finishing up kindergarten at a private Christian school. We initially decided to go there due to the need for fullday kindergarten and we thought that the installation of Christian values was a bonus. We had decided then to assess after the first year there. Now that we have reached that point, I would not consider public school for a second. Not only from the Christian perspective but due to the smaller class size (and a strong academic program), my child is nearly a year ahead of the public schools and I would be afraid of him being totally bored relearning the same stuff. Just something to consider for later on down the road.

It's a tough decision; it's not that easy.   You have to decide what's best for the child as well as yourself. Parents have the right to educate their children as they see fit.

I can tell you that private schools charge an arm and a leg for tuition. And speaking of that, the Catholic schools in the low-income/working class communities of my area have been closing over the last several years, including the one that my two brothers and sister went to, because of declining enrollment and lack of money. But yet the ones in the upper middle class communities are thriving.

I would say in the last 35-40 years, Catholic schools have been charging a lot for ttuition, and even today, there's more lay teachers in the Catholic schools than there are nuns. For example: when I went to CCD classes back in the 60's to prepare for both Holy Communion and Confirmation, there were more nuns, plus there were a few lay teacher. Now today, and like I said earlier, there are more lay teachers than there are nuns.

Try to use every option that you can for providing that best education for your children.



Choosing your child's school takes a lot of research. Talk to everyone you run across who have raised kids in your community. If you have acquaintances who are teachers in ANY school in your community, ask them. We teachers hear lots of stuff you wouldn't have heard yourself and we don't always cheer for our school. We tend to be very realistic. There will be a lot of differing opinions, but you have to choose. 

In our community,  the drug problems are greater in the private schools than the public because the legislators and parents have gotten so mad that they have demanded much stricter enforcement, including drug sniffing dogs, etc. Also, many wealthy kids have lots of pocket money, and too busy parents. Our most chi-chi private school is nicknamed "The Pharmacy", for example. (Our neighbor attended and confirmed the rumor.) But, that doesn't mean all private schools are lax in that area or all public school aggressive in that area. That's why you have to do your research.

The only univeral "truths" are:  

Public schools believe that religious education is up to the parents. By law, I am not allowed to share my religious views with my students (aren't you glad? after all I could be a nut that believes in aliens bringing the next savior) but, I am not allowed to stop them from sharing their religious views in class (which is good for healthy discussion).  In our state, however, we are mandated to teacher basic character education, like honesty, respect, etc.

Also, public school teachers have very strict education requirements (one positive thing about No Child Left Behind) Most of us have masters degrees in our subject. We have to be recertified every 5 years by continuing to take classes or other professional development education. We are highly scrutinized and do not work behind closed doors. We are also paid better than private school teachers who often are not required to have certain degrees. This helps our attitude a little, but believe me, we don't teach to make much money. Both public and private teachers teach because they enjoy it and are devoted to children.

Private schools are allowed to pick and choose their students. In a public school your child might be sitting next to a student who has learning disabilities, or behavior problems, might even have a parent in jail. We educate everyone, so you can't be sure who else will be in the room with your child. 

Public school are strongly swayed by public opinion. You have the right to open your mouth and voice your opinion as frequently as you want. Parents have tremendous power (much more than the teachers). I witness that frequently. In our community, a parent initiated petition had our superintendant fired after a specific bad incident. We teachers had been unhappy and complaining about her for years, but our opinion didn't matter. It was the parents that did it. Each private school is probably individual about how much you say you have in your child's education. 

The cost of private school means less money towards your college costs later. Public school is almost free (some material fees.) 

If your local public school is in really bad shape with little parent involvement, than you would probably be better off at a well-researched private school. But, otherwise, public schools are as good as the community makes them. Remember they are locally run by YOU and your neighbors. That is the federal law. You will also probably need all that saved money for college, which is getting outrageous in cost.

I have had the same questions for a year but add to the mix that the local public school has a 60% reading score on natl. testing for grade three. That was enough for me to enroll my daughter in private school and was resigned to the fact when my husband strongly disagreed with me due to the fact that most children in the neighborhood will attend the public school. And the population is on the rise in the area and the THREE year old school is now too small to accomodate the number entering Kindergarten!  All I can say is we will start public school in September and I will be very careful to be very involved and attentive to any problems.

By the way Home schooling was never a consideration because I don't agree with it in any sense.




I think it depends on two things:  (1) what you want your child to learn in school and, (2) how good the public and private schools are in your area.  My son attended private school from K through 2nd grade.  I think it gave him a very good start.  However, we moved to an area in which the private schools were not measurably better than the public schools (in terms of student performance) and all of our kids now attend public school.  I love the fact that the private school taught Christian values, but my kids attend Sunday School and church every week.  That, combined with the Christian example set by the parents/peers, helps fill the gap left by the public schools in this area.  Many parents send kids to private schools for status purposes and/or to help shelter them from the "bad influences."  We need to teach our kids to co-exist with all types of people and to learn to use good judgment in many types of situations.  Also, it is a falacy that kids that go to private school are necessarily better friends to have than those in public school.  I think it depends on what your personal options are and what you are seeking to get out of your child's educational process.  Good luck!


I am in the same situation as you and wondering about which choice to make as well.

My 5-year-old son is about to enter Kindergarten, and my wife and I are considering the option of sending him to private school. We make a decent combined household income, but we're not wealthy and sending him to private school will put us in debt for years to come.

From the research I've done, it appears the private school I'm considering is a step above the local public school in terms of classroom size, test scores and ratings from parents and teachers.

Was wondering how many people on this board have sent their children to private school and struggle financially but still feel like it was worth it.

Nothing is more important than my son's education, but I don't want to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy for the next 13 years either.

My decision is as much a financial one as it is an educational one.



Iam a mum from England and in this ountry we have much the same problems.  We have the private schools which are very expensive at about 900 pounds a month and can offer a better range of sport and education choices but is out of reach for most normal families.  We do have public schools and they are good but we have the  problem of where you live is where you go and some parents move or buy second homes to get their kids in the best schools. We have catholic and other faith schools and they are free but will only take kids of that faith and no other.  But i send my child to a public school and she is doing brill and is reading and writing and doing maths one or two years ahead of her age.Iam happy with public schools but if i had the money i still dont know if i would send her private there is alot of snobbery and i got this and you have not here and i feel that the child needs to meet people of diffrent backgrounds to help them in this world and as for the drug and drink problems that some of the schools have i feel that if you install moral values in your child then they should be able to make the right desicions


I don't where you are or what it's like there. I am in California and we have a third alternative: Charter Schools. They are part of the regular public school system (so no monthly payments), but are not part of the bureacracy. I applied for my eldest to go to our parish Catholic school for kindergarten and she did not get in. I had her enrolled in the local public school when a friend told me about a new (at that time, now it is in it's 7th year) charter school. I thank God every single day for this school. Charter schools have to have a plan, something that they "specialize" in. The one my kids go to is a "dual-language immersion" program. It goes from K to 8th grade (so we don't have to deal with the Middle School issues either). The class sizes are always 20 or fewer kids, the teachers are incredible, the school is run like a business (which is how it should be - don't you think the education of your kids is the product you are buying anyway? and wouldn't you want the best result for your money - whether you pay for it from your direct pocketbook or your tax dollars?) and my kids are doing SOOOO incredibly well I just could not be happier.

I am just saying that I was lucky to find a third option and perhaps you are limiting yourself by thinking you have to choose between public and private only. You would be amazed at what is out there when you go searching!

Good Luck and God Bless!!!!!


I attended a private Catholic grade school myself as a student. The school was a Grade 1-8 school, so when our class "graduated" from 8th Grade, we attended a public high school. There was a little adjustment, but nothing major. I have taught in two private schools, and I am teaching in a public school. My teaching isn't any different in the public school than it was in the private -- except I do not teach a religion class now. I still expect the same attitudes, behaviors, etc. from my public school students as I did at my parochial school. Sometimes, I think it is a little harder to deal with some of the discipline problems in the public school, but I think that's because of the mainstreaming of special education students in and out of regular classes. Private schools don't really deal with special education. And, if a child causes problems or cannot keep up with the learning pace, private schools can remove the child. They don't have to accept everyone like public schools do. One thing that really bothered me when I was teaching in a private school is that I saw too many children get "pushed out the door" if they didn't live up to the school's expectations. I always felt that we didn't take care of many of our own. The children who are usually asked to leave private schools are the ones who cause trouble or have discipline problems. Another thing one would probably need to check about a private school is to be sure the school has been accredited by the state. I was on the team of teachers who got a private school accredited back in the late 70s. Being accredited gives the private school some public school benefits. Private school students who attend an accredited school should be able to take part in special Chapter and Title programs in the public school. In our district, one of our teachers has gone to the private school to conduct special help classes in reading, or the private school will drive their students to a public school to be placed in a special reading or math group. There are a lot of considerations when deciding where to send your child to school. Private schools are usually very expensive, but they usually have smaller classes. Private schools can do what they want about a student, whereas a public school MUST keep and deal with the student. You know your son. If he doesn't have problems (ADHD, autism, etc.) he will do fine in a private school.