Private and Public Schools Comparison

The debate on public versus private schools has no clear cut rights or wrongs. Parents, students, teachers and other education stakeholders value different aspects in schools and one ought to give precedence to those factors that make their experience more enriched.

Comparison of Private Versus Public Schools

The most distinct difference between public and private schools is funding. No tuition exists in public schools yet this is the primary source of funding in private schools. Consequently, the cost of joining such a private institution would be much higher than a public one. The independent schools national association estimated that on average, ninth to twelfth grade students will spend approximately twenty eight thousand dollars on tuition. The latter apply to boarding schools; day schools on the other hand pay approximately fifteen thousand per year. (Mc Meekin, 13) Clearly, these are figures that may be problematic to low income households. Furthermore, parents in private institutions have to adjust their work calendars in response to the many fundraisers set by private institutions and this may be problematic to their careers. Conversely, public schools tend to depend on the state for funds and this makes them vulnerable to changes in the political landscape.

The type of education offered in these institutions differs substantially. More often than not, private schools have the capacity to offer specialized programs. The latter arise out of their independence from state initiated regulations. (Levin 25) For instance boarding, single sex and military programs are exclusive to private institutions. Since public schools are dependent on tax revenues for funding, this makes them bound by state processes. To this end, they are all required to cater for special needs especially of the mentally and academically challenged. Private schools have the option of not offering these initiatives unless they specialize in those areas. Parents with special needs concerns may have to do a lot of ‘homework’ to locate private schools that can meet those needs. On the other hand, they can place their special needs child in any public institution since they are guaranteed of their ability to cater to such individuals; no personal research will be needed here.

Quality of teachers enrolled in private schools differs substantially from public schools and this therefore reflects the quality of education to be found in these institutions. The state has preset standards for enrolling teachers into public institutions. All teachers are expected to have a degree and a license. Dismissal can only be done after a probation period of one year. This can increase retention rates but compromises on the level of competence if a teacher is guilty of misconduct. Conversely, private schools place more emphasis on certification for subjects or areas of specialty rather than general college degrees. This promotes a high level of specialty. Their ability to deal with personnel matters immediately also makes them flexible to their surrounding. It may however minimize retention rates. (Chen, 14)

In terms of output, it has been found that children from private schools report better performance in national assessment proficiency tests. Average scores in subjects such as science, math and languages are higher in private than public institutions. Many have asserted that this could be due to the high graduation requirements set by the former institutions which expect more input and time in various subjects. This great performance does not automatically make private institutions plausible at all times because they have been know to send away students who do not perform to their preferred academic standards.


As has been seen, no school type ought to be placed over and above another because inefficiencies in one area are compensated for in another. For instance, the high performance rates reported in private schools are neutralized by their dismissal of underperforming schools. Conversely the low costs of taking children to public schools are undermined by their vulnerability to political elements.

Works cited

Chen Grace 2007 Public school vs private school. Public school review, Web.

Mc Meekin, Robert. Networks of schools education policy analysis archives. Tempe: Arizona state university, 2003. Print

Levin, Hillary. The private public nexus in education. Rosenau: MIT press, 2000. Print