What’s the big deal?
The real value between public and private school.
Have you ever wondered why someone would spend up to $40,000 per year for kindergarten when they could get it for free?
These are smart people. Successful people paying a substantial amount for their child’s education year after year.
What I’ve learned from sending my kids to independent schools is that when successful people are doing something that seems illogical to the masses, chances are they are not asking the right questions.
People who are adamant public school supporters have great reasons to justify their decision.
My experience tells me adamant public school supporters do not asked the right question. It’s not why should I send my kid to private school when public schools are free?
The real question is, is the value of private school worth paying for our family?
Or even better, why should I pay for private school when I live in a high performing public school district?
Here is why.
People will will pay for something they perceive as valuable. Value or worth is in the eyes of the beholder.
For example, why would someone buy Berkeshire Hathaway stock at $205,000 per share when they could buy ATT stock at $33.50 per share (Sept 1, 2015)? Answer: Individually perceived value.
People will pay for, sacrifice for, save for, things that are valuable to them. Because one person’s treasure is another’s money pit.
The worth of a private school education is the same for the family who must sacrifice vacations as it is for a family where money is no object. In the end, they are both willing to pay up to five figures for something they can get for free.
Wouldn’t you like to know why people pay for private school from someone who is doing it?
Which brings us back to the question, why would someone who lives in a high performing public school district pay for private school?
1. Quality of teachers
Certification is not required for private school teachers as it is for most public school teachers. However, over 70% of private school instructors have masters degrees in their field. This is according to the National Association of Independent Schools. This means they have a higher degree of expertise and deeper knowledge of their chosen subject matter. They can also teach their subject matter several different ways depending on the learning styles of their students.
2. Personal instruction
At a private school your child will be known. The administrators and teachers will have a personal relationship where they will know your child’s strengths, weaknesses and what makes them unique. As such, there will be early detection by teachers of any red flags pertaining to your child’s development, especially in reading and math.
When our child had difficulty with sounding words out in kindergarten, the school was on it. They gave us home study programs and even summer school recommendations. What could have been an undetected problem was easily smoothed out with early detection. What would that be worth to you?
3. Continuing education
Teachers of private schools often participate in continuing education seminars and conferences during the summer months. This keeps them on the cutting edge of effective teaching.
4. Performance based job security
Teachers at private schools are typically on one year, renewable annual contracts. This means their job security is based on performance not longevity. Effective performance being, but not limited to, effective interaction with parents, and student test scores.
5. Responsiveness of teachers
Teachers are expected to be leaders. They are expected to be responsive to the needs of their students and the concerns of their parents. At it’s core private schools are a business. As such, customer service is important. At private schools, teachers are held in the same regard as your doctor who manages your overall health or your accountant who does your taxes. Private school teachers are professionals providing the service of educating your child.
6. Responsiveness from the administration
Inevitably there will be problems with your child. At private schools the administration is responsive. There’s no waiting for approval to get an IEP. There’s no waiting to hear back from the district to coordinate a specialist. In fact, many private schools have learning specialist on staff to directly address learning issues as they arise. This provides for seamless coordination between the learning specialist and your child’s teacher. Providing the necessary academic support your child needs.
7. Class size
The average private school student teacher ratio is 12:1. The average ratio for public-school is 28:1.
Smaller class size means teachers have more flexibility to adjust the pace of the curriculum. They can dive deeper into the subject matter for greater student understanding. Teachers can do more collaborative project-based learning exercises where students can work in small groups.
Smaller class sizes means there can be more cross coordinated curriculum. Meaning, while studying Mozart for music, in math, students can also study the math of symphonic music, write essays about the emotions of classical music in language arts and study Classical period of Eastern Europe for social studies.
8. Multi sensory teaching
Private school teachers can adjust their teaching approach to the individual learning styles of students; Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, verbal, social and logical.
At private schools, first graders learning a new math concept will sit in front of the class while the teacher explains the lesson (verbal), show it on the board in front of the class (visual). Students will listen (auditory), and later use blocks to demonstrate the math equation (kinesthetic), while working in a small group of three or four students (social). And because of the small class size private school teachers can provide individual teaching lessons targeted specifically to individual students who she knows has a specific learning style. The result is a deeper connection between the teacher, student and lesson. The lessons literally come to life.
Private schools create a deep connection to learning with students. This is where the seeds of passionate life long learning is planted in students. What’s that worth?
9. Project-based or collaborative learning.
Project based learning is where students will do a multimedia project to demonstrate their mastery of a subject. For example, creating a one minute rap video about geometric angles and shapes. This approach keeps students engaged, often leads to deeper mastery of the subject and is also more challenging to grade for the teacher because it is time intensive. This approach would be problematic with a large class size.
Collaborative learning is where students work together to create a project in a group of 3 to 5 students. Each student is given a portion of the overall project and teach the others about their portion of the project. They then give a report to the entire class. Again this is time-consuming but leads to deeper understanding of the subject. Research shows that greater mastery is gained when you learn and then teach what you have learned.
10. Match school’s mission to your family values.
Private school is where you can match your family’s values to the school’s mission.
There are schools that are Christian, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Armenian, Jewish, Quaker, Muslim, and many other denominations where a large part of the school curriculum is based on the teachings of these religions. Any religion, by definition, is prohibited from being taught in public schools. So, religious private schools can be a great match for many families looking to merge formal studies with their families religious preference.
There are also private schools whose mission is based on teaching style or the population they serve.
Traditional schools tend to be academically rigorous schools often teaching curriculum 1-2 years ahead of public schools. These schools send a high percentage of their students to Ivy League and other top tier universities.
Progressive schools teach lessons as a longer process of development. They have a “loosy goosy” feel because progress is often student directed. Progressive schools are good for students with learning challenges like auditory processing, ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences because their flexibility and mission does not label kids who learn differently.
Advanced challenge schools are for student with off the chart advancement or deficiencies that are beyond the scope of traditional or progressive private schools.
11. Parent involvement
There are many ways parents can get involved at private schools: lunch duty, morning welcome duty, chaperones for school events, fundraising, reading volunteers, and serving on the Board of Trustees. Being involved as a parent creates a closer connection to the school. The parents presents also demonstrates the importance of the school to your family values. It’s also a great way to spy on your child.
12. Student body
Below is a list of the characteristics of the private school student body:
A. It’s cool to be smart.
B. Students are more focused and disciplined.
C. Expectation of success and achievement.
D. Comradely from sports, camping, field trips.
13. The cost is not an obstacle.
Private school come with a astronomical price tag for many. However, if you have a strong desire to have your child attend a private school the administrators will partner with you to figure it out. Private school are notoriously affluent, white, with traditional families. However, almost all recognize the importance of creating as diverse of student body as possible. They will work with families to make them feel comfortable at the school.
14. Unheralded benefits
A. Lifelong friendships between student from going to school with the same classmates for nine years.
B. Lifelong relationship of student with the school from being the place where a large part of their personality was formed.
C. A bond of fraternity/sorority with future students based on the common tenants of the school.
D. A built in network of successful people. The children of successful parents will most likely be successful as well. As classmates grow and embark on their careers, classmates can be relied upon to open doors of opportunity.
E. Ancillary education for people of color or of middle class means or of different family structure. At private schools the students in these groups learn how to navigate affluent/traditional people while maintaining their own dignity. They will learn how to identify misdirection and the subtle snubs. Private school will also demystify wealth. Money can be a mirage. Middle class students learn that money doesn’t buy happiness, it gives options but also provides the resources to hide unhappiness. The private school experience will your child to be comfortable in their own skin and focus on running their own race. These are valuable life lessons.
Private school may be for the family that sees the value in:
Early detection in their child’s reading development.
Small teacher/student ratio’s.
The flexibility to teach subjects five different ways.
The importance of lifelong friendships with classmates.
The ability to match the school’s mission with your family values.
Personal instruction from teachers.
If these tenants of private resonate with you, your child might be a good candidate for a private school even if they already attend a high performing public school.
Where you send you child to school is a deeply personal
decision. Seeing the real value of private school is the first step to considering if it is worth it or not.