For decades, there has been an immense debate on whether private or public high schools provide better education for students. Although one side seems dominant at times, both types of schools are unique, and each have their own peaks and pitfalls.
The most imminent difference between public and private high schools is tuition and fees. Public schools are completely free, and the California educational board claims that these schools also “provide a wholesome learning environment.” Despite this, most are underfunded and suffer from frequent budget cuts. Additionally, public high schools are completely subject to state educational changes and are required to make several mandatory reforms every year.
On the other hand, private high schools fund themselves with student tuition fees, donations, and grants. As a result, these institutions typically devote themselves to specifically meet the needs of all students and gear them all toward their desired goals. Generally speaking, the only downfall to private high schools is that the tuition is often costly. For instance, Harvard-Westlake, an excellent private school in Los Angeles, comprises a yearly tuition of $34,700 with additional fees for books, transportation, etc. As a whole, most students do not attend private high schools because of the outright excessive fees.
Another difference between public and private high schools results from admission and providing special needs. In the case of public schools, enrollment comprises of simply filling out forms and providing legal documents. However, students with special needs or a disability meet a roadblock because not all public high schools have the capacity to handle these students. As a result, there is a major lack of effective special education programs at public schools.
Private high schools, however, are selective and evaluate applicants’ financial needs, academic potential, race, and other factors. Also, some of these schools are wholly specialized to provide education for disabled students and assist them to the greatest extent. In terms of student care and education, private high schools are superior because students can attend the school that best fits their needs.
A third difference between the two school system arises in actual academic curriculum and rigor. Public high schools must follow a curriculum that is determined by the state, and this outline is often, but not always, less rigorous than that of private schools. Generally speaking, public high school education is limited in academics and does not fully prep students for college academics.
In contrast, private high schools make and establish their own curriculum to offer to students. More often than not, private schools offer challenging academics and design specific tests that students need to pass. Additionally, private schools have better educated teachers with strong knowledge in each one’s respective subject, which often increases the quality of education.
Dillon Edwards, who has attended both a private and public school, comments, “It was obvious to me that school work at my old private school was more difficult, and the teachers were harsher graders. Here [at public school] the classes are easier, and the atmosphere is more open and free.”
Despite all ongoing differences between private and public high schools, the best school is completely open to discussion. After all, education should address and synchronize best with the students’ interests, values, and desires.