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Written by:  Cristi Driver
Date: August 5, 2011

Public school vs. private school – it's a debate that extends across the playgrounds across America.

Many people have a bias one way or another. Some assume that private schools offer superior everything, justifying their often high tuition costs. Others maintain that public schools provide more real-life experiences. There is no clear-cut answer as private and public schools vary widely depending on where you live.

Deciding which is best for your children depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is cost of tuition for a private school. There are advatnages and disadvantages to both a private and a public school education. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when making a decision:

Private Schools
Pros:
Smaller class sizes
Curriculum is more academically challenging
Students can receive more individualized attention and foster closer teacher-student relationships
Close community of parents and studentsMore access to up-to-date computers and technology
Better textbooks and supplies
More access to arts, music and foreign language programs
Private schools are not required to take state-mandated End-of-Grade testing

Cons
High tuition costs
Not all private schools require teachers to hold a state teaching license/certification
Students must pass an entrance exam to be admitted
Less diverse choice in subjects
Less options for sports programs
Less diversity. Students can sometimes be too sheltered from "the real world."

Public Schools

Pros:
No cost
Builds community relationships with both parents and students
Teachers are required to be certified instructors
Access to diverse sports programs
More choice in curriculumMore options to address the needs of special needs students
Convenience – close to your home, availability of school bus transportationMore diversity

Cons:
Larger class sizes; some public schools have problems with overcrowding
More exposure to unacceptable lifestyles at school
Classes are taught at a mid-learning level, which may cause advanced learners to become bored
Limited access to learning materials
Outdated textbooks and computer systems
Curriculum that doesn't always allow for individuality

To make the right school choice for your children, you will need to realistically weigh all of the options open to you. In addition to public and private school options, there are also magnet and charter schools (still public but usually smaller) and homeschooling.

Consider the cost of schooling, the time commitment required by parents, the social pros and cons for your child and the needs of your whole family.

Be aware that even if you end up feeling like you've made the wrong choice for your child, you can always try other options if the first one isn't working right. 



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