Public vs. Education

November 23, 2008
A couple months ago, the Obama family was only hoping to make it to the White House; but now that Obama’s been elected, this household has quite an important decision to make: where will the Obama girls attend school? Over the past weeks, this matter of where the Obama girls will go to school has been covered widely across the news. As Barack and Michele Obama contend among the many options in the area, one of the dominant subjects has been their consideration between public and private schools. The Obama girls previously attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, one of the finest private schools in Chicago. However, their parents say they will consider both public and private education.
The White House household is currently at the pedestal of this issue, but the struggle between public and private schooling has been one at hand for years -- at least for those families which can afford it. Even for less fortunate families, school choice has remained a sizeable issue among families. As a parent, providing your child with the best education possible always seems like an issue of utmost importance. Whether moving to a new area or simply pursuing the best for your child, choosing between public and private school can be very difficult.
According to recent statistics, there are a total of 97,000 public schools in the United States, compared to the 29,000 private schools. Public schools clearly account for a much higher percentage of the American education system, leading to the idea that private schools provide an elite, more excellent form of education. But, according to certain critics, the overall excellence of the school lies in certain factors which must draw a parallel with the child’s specific needs. Still, public and private schools present many differences which are fundamental when making this decision.
At the pinnacle of this issue, families must first consider the financial factor of private schooling. Private schools normally charge large tuitions whereas public schools are completely free. Some families may be well-off, but private school tuitions can still be a significant investment. For high-school age students, the average tuition is close to $28,000.
Many supporters of the idea that private schools are better than public have presented the idea that private schools offer additional opportunity. Most definitely, private schools are able to offer superior resources due to their heavy financial backing. Private schools are able to push beyond necessity, but are sometimes more luxurious instead of being educationally resourceful. According to a recent study, public school graduates also tend to outperform their private counterparts (other students who are from similar economic and social backgrounds). Some attribute this to fact that public school children are forced to face real-life issues, and interact with other diverse individuals as they progress through school. Test scores may not always gauge the system’s efficiency.
Some critics have gone so far as to deem private schools as an enhanced learning environment. The common misconception is that private school teachers are better -- better trained, better people, better teachers. However, this is not always the case. While private school teachers may be especially hand-picked, they are not required to attain certification. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, as these teachers normally demonstrate expertise in the subjects they teach. Still, it is not fair to say that these teachers are “better” than those at public schools. Class size differences between the two have also been shown to be important. Private schools boast small class sizes for individual attention, while public schools often consist of larger classes. Depending on the child, the classroom learning can work well in both small and large numbers.
As a 17-year-old high school teenager, I myself have often wondered about the puzzling dilemma. Raised in public school, I feel I have received as education which is just as good, if not better than those in local private schools. By attending a public school, I was forced to face diversity with open arms, encountering wholesome issues which occur in real-world settings. While public schools may consist of certain inadequacies and disadvantages, I feel they provide better preparation for career and lifelong success. Yet, I am sure that private school students are also educated well, and with motivation and drive, possess the same capacity for success. All things considered, the distinctions of public and private cannot deem the other as lesser. The decision between public and private schools is totally dependent on the child.

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