What’s Better: Public Or Private Education For Children?

Commentary By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

When you have a child, the one thing that everyone wants for them is to have an excellent education. Whether we like to admit it or not, having a good education can get you far in life and shape you as a person depending on where you go to school. 

A large debate is whether or not a child should go to public or private school and what would be best for them. Some factors parents should think about are if they want their child to attend a religious school, if the school district where they live has a good public education, what opportunities are available at each school, the money aspect of paying for a private school, and overall what would be the best fit for the child. 

A main reason why a family would send their children to private school would be if a family lives in a low-income town or city. This could ensure the children a good education because it is likely that the low-income schooling has low funding and can be even dangerous for a child to attend.. Moving on, another reason why a family could reason with sending their child to a private school is because the family wants their child to receive an education while learning about their specific religion. 

However, this is only if the family can afford the absurd cost of the private school. The cost of private school can be a reason why a lot of families decide not to send their children there. According to Private School Review, the average cost of private school in New Jersey is $14,698 per year per child just for the tuition. Correspondingly, this does not factor in the cost of gas getting to and from school since the school can be far from where the child lives, sport materials, uniform cost, etc. 

Public schools are free and ensure that every student can get an education even if it may not be the best. However, in some cases, some public schools in middle and high- income areas have some of the best education in all of New Jersey. As a matter of fact, Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies is listed as the best public school in New Jersey and 23rd in the country. 

Some ultimate pros of private schools are that the parents can be more involved. Most private schools allow open channels of communication with regular parent-teacher contact, a strong sense of community, ensure religious classes within teaching, more one-on -one time with teachers because of small class sizes, and higher academic standards. Additionally, if a child has special needs such as ADHD, autism, hearing and/or seeing impairment and they go to a private school specifically to cater children with the disability, they are able to thrive more than in a public school. Moreover, it is not a secret that going to a private school is impressive and could help a student get into a better college. 

Some cons of private schools can include, the high price tag, there can be less diversity, admission is not guaranteed, your child’s friends may live far away and it may be hard for the child to gain and/or maintain their friends, some private schools do not make teachers have certain certifications like public schools, children with special needs can be turned away if the school is not specific for that disability, and also smaller private schools may not offer extensive opportunities for sports and extracurricular activities.

Karlee Middleman attended St. Joseph Academy expresses that it would depend on if she lived in a good neighborhood if she would send her own child to public or private school. Despite this, Middleman is thankful that she got to attend a private school where she was able to get a more individualized education that she knew that she would not be able to get in a public school. Nevertheless, she feels as though she missed out on having a more diverse learning environment with more resources that she would receive at a public school. For example, there were only two AP classes offered at St. Joseph Academy while at a public school there would be more available. 

Marissa Digerolamo also attended St. Joseph Academy and said that an advantage that she had was that she became close with her teachers which enhanced her learning. Notwithstanding, she did not like how small her class size was (42 students) and felt that if she went to a public school she would be able to connect with more students. 

Next, some pros of public schools is that there is no cost and.or admissions to attend, schools must give students accommodations and services such as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), speech therapy, physical, occupational, and behavior therapy to students who need it, and are required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act unlike private schools. Shockingly, a study by The National Center for Education Statistics showed that the teachers at public schools have more experience and qualifications to serve special needs students than private school teachers. Uniquely, public schools have more clubs, sports, and theater options for students and these children have an easier way to make friends with children in their own town and can form a better and more diverse community. 

Unfortunately, like anything else, there are cons to attending a public school. First, there is less individualized attention for the students because of large class sizes, and some schools need to use portable classrooms far from the main building to keep up with the large number of students. Secondly, some public schools are severely underfunded not allowing the students to get the well rounded education they need and some programs such as sports, theater, and art programs are not available or cut because of the budget. Lastly, some public schools can even be dangerous in low-income towns or cities with multiple fights breaking out a day for students bringing weapons to class. 

Alexis Brophy who attended Cranford High School which is a public school believed that public schools exposed her to a more diverse group of students and she was able to be herself rather than be influenced by the religion that she would endure at a private school and had more social skills. Now going to a private college, “a lot of my friends that went to a private high school were really sheltered growing up and did not understand social cues.” To add, Brophy expresses that her roommate had friends from their high school that lived far away making it difficult for them to see their friends. 

All in all, there are many different reasons why a family may send their child to a private or public school and both are great options, it just matters what the family is specifically looking for. 

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