Checklist for Expats to Prepare their Children for Private or Public School

A child’s education can be a make-or-break issue for someone coming to the United States from abroad. Or these professionals may just look elsewhere. They look for the type of education they think will be best for their child — whether its a private or public one, as it varies what is considered good in one country and in another. 

Below is a checklist for patents and Global Mobility Managers to understand the many factors they need to understand, so they can plan ahead when a job offer to northern California comes along.

Where money comes from

Find out the maintenance and cost of management of the public school through local taxes, with the occasional small fee. Private schools thrive from the support of donors and tuition fees paid by parents. This support can range from $5,000 to $25,000, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The cost of private school differs based on the type of school with catholic schools paying less than most nonsectarian schools.

High percentage of teachers

There is a higher percentage of new teachers in private schools. However, they may have less than five years of teaching experience compared to teachers from public schools. It’s not unusual to think why teachers are drawn toward public schools. They get  higher salaries and benefits packages. Teachers in public schools may have more master’s degree graduates than those in private schools. Every year, the participation of teachers in some form of professional development is more elevated in public schools than private schools.

Determining factor

Because the state does not control private schools, they are free to have a curriculum that fits their identity. For instance, if the arts, music, theater or other similar subject is what a child wants to study, then going to private school is better. Public schools, on the other hand, often focus on the core classes because of the continually changing budget and mandated testing.

The focus of many private schools in the high school level is to prepare students for college. As a result, they often offer a broader range of extracurricular activities, international baccalaureate programs and advanced placement courses.

Significance of class size 

The size of the classes of public and private schools is one significant concern, the student-to-teacher ratio is another. For public schools, the average size of a class is 25 kids, while that of private schools is 19 kids per class, according to the NCES. Accordingly, the student-to-teacher ratio for private schools is higher than that of public schools.

Size of class based on religion 

Because of the constitution, there is the separation of church and state, which means that public schools are not allowed to bring faith into the classroom. On the other hand, many private schools are religiously affiliated. Catholic schools admit up to 1.9 million kids, making them the largest private school institution.

Difference in test scores

In a recent evaluation of the academic performance of public and private schools, it showed that graduates of private high schools scored 3.1 points higher on the ACT.  This is the same trend in middle and primary schools. In math tests, private schools also outscored public schools, getting 18 points higher for students in the eight-grade and 8 points higher for those in the fourth grade. In reading, private schools students outscored those in public schools, with eighth graders having 18 points and fourth-graders having 15 points higher.

Diverse classes

Because of the number of students in private schools, parents can afford to be selective on the type of students their kids will need to spend time with. According to some studies, private schools have a more positive peer environment than public schools. 

This is because private schools can screen the student they admit to the school, which may be frowned upon as elitism. Also, generally, students attending private schools come from a better socio-economic class. Public schools can’t select who comes into the school with a few exceptions seen in some charter schools.

Though the school selection process in the US is not easy, it is worth the time and effort to learn the quality of the education a child is getting. The above-listed factors will help narrow down the schools might be the best option for their kids.