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State schools vs private schools

Updated February 16, 2017

There is an ongoing debate about which schools provide the best opportunities -- state or private. There are benefits and disadvantages in both, but overall, you may find that state schools are the best choice for your child's education.

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Advantage in placement

Private schools traditionally have been a place of learning for the elite both socially and academically. However, students can enter these schools through scholarships or entrance exams. State schools are open to everyone, thereby virtually eliminating the competition just to be enrolled. There is a more level playing field.

Advantage in course selection

There are many fine private schools with knowledgeable teachers, but the choice of academic programs are usually limited by number of faculty. There will not be as many foreign language or upper level maths classes from which to choose because of the number of staff available. The number of students who need specific advanced maths and science courses will usually not be enough to justify hiring more teachers. State schools have larger classes, which can be a disadvantage, but students will more readily find advanced and career-specific courses that they need.

Advantage in cost

State schools are taxpayer supported. Private schools are supported by tuition payments, fund raisers and donations. Sometimes, this leads to emphases on non-academic programs to generate money, usually sports. Athletics is an important part of the educational system, but should never be relied upon as a way to make ends meet financially. Academics will suffer because of the pressure on kids to play and teachers to give passing grades. State schools have adequate sports facilities and other extra-curricular activities.

Advantage in variety

Private schools usually have student and teacher populations from similar backgrounds, although they are legally restricted from any kind of discrimination based on race, colour, creed or religion. State schools, in contrast, take pride in differences. Multicultural awareness is actually a part of some state schools' curricula. Children may feel more acceptance and learn tolerance in such environments.

Final considerations

When choosing what type school is best, consider the following needs: the type of education (traditional or multifaceted), the learning environment (homogeneous or diverse) and extra-curricular activities.

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About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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