Facts About Public Vs. Private Schooling
(Government vs. Non-government Schooling)
Over 6.5 million American children learn through alternatives to public schooling such as:
- homeschool cooperatives
- commercial classes for homeschoolers
- prep school
- parochial school
- other types of religious and non-sectarian private schools.
They consistently equal or outscore public school students in literacy, standardized test scores, college admissions, and scholarship awards.
Government schools spend over $6,500 per student per year while private schools average $3,500. Homeschoolers need only $546 per student per year.
The American tradition of private schooling
Almost all schools in America were private from colonial days until the second half of the 19th century.
Children learned through a variety of means including homeschool, tutors, apprenticeships, and at town schools funded voluntarily by parents and charities. Only rarely and in small amounts were public funds used.
Young children often learned in dame schools where a woman in the community would teach them in her home while she cooked and did housework. Older children sometimes attended prep school. Children of every economic status had access to some form of schooling.
Private schooling delivered widespread literacy during this period despite the fact that many children had to work to support their families.
Government takeover of schooling
From 1852 through 1918, politicians enacted laws in every state to mandate government schools. They were modeled after the authoritarian Prussian schools of the 1800's, a model which remains in effect today.
Public schools were brought into existence for a variety of reasons. Prominent among them were social engineering purposes such as increasing students' “contribution to the wants and needs of the state” according to Benjamin Rush, an early proponent of government schools.
Since the government takeover, literacy has declined. For example, in 1840 2% of adults in Massachusetts were illiterate. In 1995, 19% were functionally illiterate and another 25% were below the level of literacy envisioned for high school graduates by the state Department of Education.
Reforms make schools worse
Hundreds of state and federal school reforms have been enacted including:
- Standardized testing
- Progressive Education
- Government-funded vouchers
- Charter Schools, Magnet and Title 1 schools
- America 2000, GOALS 2000, and School-to-Work
- Special Education programs
- School lunch and other food subsidy programs
- School-administered medical care
- Open classrooms
- Longer school years
- Longer school days
- Smaller class sizes
- Government-run Kindergarten, After School, and Pre-School programs
- Expanded teacher certification requirements
- Extravagant new and renovated school buildings
- No Child Left Behind
With each reform, total spending increases. The cost of government schools jumped seven-fold from $876 per student per year in 1930 to $6,043 in 1993 (using constant dollars). In some states the average cost is now over $8,000. In some cities, it tops $17,000 per student per year.
Despite massive spending, 44% of American adults lack basic reading and math skills.
With each reform, large school districts replace neighborhood-based schools. Today's impersonal school districts are ten times larger than they were in 1920.
With each reform, parents, teachers, and local communities lose control to burgeoning state and federal education bureaucracies. Teachers are buried in red tape and hamstrung by centrally planned government regulations.
Abandonment of government schools
The continual failure of reforms has spurred many parents to look for private alternatives. Many politicians, as well as an embarrassingly large number of public school teachers, refuse to enroll their own children in a public school.
Some parents are able to find moderately priced private schools. Others enroll their children in low-cost parochial schools, even if they are non-religious. Many have joined the homeschool movement, which is growing 7-10% every year. Over 2 million children in America learn from home.
How busy parents manage homeschool - even if they both work
Typically a homeschool parent spends about two hours per day working directly with their children. The rest of the day, children are self-directed or learn through other means.
A growing number of commercial educators offer classes to homeschoolers to supplement their home learning.
Many homeschoolers join with other families informally to engage in a variety of learning activities. For example, some form sports teams, study groups, or music ensembles.
Other families form homeschool cooperatives where each takes on part of the teaching responsibility. For those not inclined to teach, they contribute in other ways such as providing transportation or facilities, coaching sports, arranging field trips, or helping to fund the salary of a professional teacher. They may also receive free teaching services from retirees, interns, and adults of all ages.
Larger homeschool cooperatives make it even easier for families to work their child's schooling into a busy lifestyle. Some cooperatives comprise over 100 families, creating a rich curriculum for students while minimizing the time commitment required of individual parents. For some families, both parents are able to maintain a full-time job.
Homeschool cooperatives offer families a way to reap the benefits of homeschooling: high academic standards, a safe environment, and the ability to select the learning methods, values, and curriculum taught to their child. All for a very affordable time and money investment.
To learn more about specific alternatives that work best for your family, please explore the links at this website. Please bookmark this site so you can come back to see new resources and links we will add over the next few months to help you discover all avaiable options for your family.
Copyright 2003 Carla Howell