One of the most difficult and significant decisions that parents face is that of which school to send their children to. Now, that’s not to say there’s always a choice. Many families get by just fine sending their children to local public schools that are there specifically to offer affordable education. But when there is a choice, it can quickly become somewhat overwhelming, whether you’re looking for a middle school or high school environment. There are pros and cons to different kinds of schools, and of course different learning environments suit different children better.
If this is a decision you’ve been staring down of late, we wanted to help by laying out some of the basic benefits of the different types of schools. Sometimes it helps to step away from lengthy, personal pros and cons and just remember what these schools are there for.
Public schools are those that are set up and supported by public funds, which is to say they’re essentially part of the government’s budget. They tend to be arranged such that students are assigned based on where they live, meaning each individual student is districted to a given school. This means less choice in what kind of environment your child will be heading into, but there are perks as well.
Public school benefits include diversity, a broader range of academic and extracurricular opportunities, and accountability. Students are exposed to very realistic environments that are allowed to develop naturally, with schools responsible to provide academic services and adhere to certain standards, but encouraged not to construct particular atmospheres. A public school, ultimately, can be a looser environment, but also one that’s more like the “real world” than some smaller or more specialized schools.
A private high school is the primary alternative to public education, and can be defined as one supported by private individuals. Put more simply it’s a school that’s funded by donors, or in some cases an organization, rather than by tax funds and government budgets. Because of this structure private schools are often smaller, though this is by no means always the case.
The benefits of a private school education tend to boil down to these being more controlled environments. There tends to be a little bit more structure, there are often smaller class sizes, and students sometimes receive more opportunities because there are generally smaller student populations. Additionally, some parents like that private schools can engineer education based on specific guidelines or principles. For example, many private schools have religious components to them. Some also believe that education in private schools tends to be superior, though there is research that indicates this is a misconception.
If you’re curious about any possible alternatives to private and public schools, there is a third popular option. A charter school is a public school that is run independently according to a specific charter made with a state or government. A charter school management company essentially works to come up with certain academic standards, as well as a general school mission. So long as the school continues to meet those standards and adhere to that mission, it is allowed to operate more independently – almost like a private school environment set up within the public school funding structure.
Naturally, the potential benefits look somewhat like a combination between public and private school benefits, because the environment can be similar to both options in ways. It is worth noting, however, that charter schools are similar to private schools in that they often exist in order to promote a particular agenda or set of values.