American schools are on negative news reports daily. From reports of bullying resulting in children being hospitalized, to drugs, gang violence and sexual assaults, the face of education is changing. Is a private school a viable alternative?
When deciding between public and private schools, one must consider multiple factors contributing to education. In current times, one must further consider physical safety issues. The advantages of a private education can far outweigh the disadvantages. The foremost reason is because private schools do not take public funds, and therefore are not required to provide the federally mandated components of IDEA, more commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Law. Under the said law, public institutions must provide a free and appropriate education for all children. That sounds great. To an extent, for some children, it is. For other children, it can be a nightmare.
If a student is bullied, notify administration. Sadly, if the student perpetrating the bullying behavior carries a special needs label, depending on the label in question; he or she may not be subject to discipline for bullying. Federal IDEA law mandates a Manifestation of Disability Review meeting. A school committee decides if the behavior in question could have in any way been a direct result of the disability. This, too many times, results in the bullying behavior going without negative consequences which serve to increase the likelihood of behavior repetition.
In private settings, discipline issues are addressed based on the merits of the behavior allowing for the protection of the entire student body. Any student determined to be a danger can be removed from the school. Public schools cannot expel a special needs labeled student, if the behavior is determined to be a direct result of a disability.
Private schools have lower class sizes affording students more one on one instructional time. With cuts to federal funding, class sizes in public schools will continue to grow. In either setting, the teacher is the primary component in determining the quality of a child’s education. While public schools are required by law to employ certified teachers, private schools are not. That is not to say that private school teachers are less qualified, just that they may not be certified. Unions ensure public school teachers remain in classrooms. Performance determines that in private schools.
Lastly, private schools move through material faster because they teach to the level of all students. Public schools revolve around state testing, so classes are taught to the lower levels. For more gifted students, it means constant repetition of skills mastered. Private schools are in a better position to keep more gifted students engaged. If one but looks to elected leaders, one sees the children of said group predominantly enrolled in private institutions. The vast majority of those students go on to college. If the very ones designing and enforcing laws over public education decided to place their own little darlings in private schools, it says a lot about our leader’s faith, or the lack thereof, in public schools.