Often times, the notion of a “private school” brings to mind the notion of exclusivity. You know, where private means “not public”, so that not everyone is automatically eligible to go there unless they pay up and also get admission.
Does this mean that as a general rule, private schools are better than public schools?
I say no. Now, sometimes private schools just might be better, and there are clear examples where a local private school might be a much better fit academically and in terms of values than a public school. However, that’s not a given, and isn’t the case everywhere.
This comes to mind as someone I know was telling me about how he’s thinking of sending his kids to private school as an investment in their future. This would be at the elementary school level and possibly beyond. The thought process he had (not mine, by the way) is that the kids there would likely have parents that could afford to send them there, and are therefore more likely to be professional and high earners. Thus, they might be more likely to get encouraged at home. This guy, to his credit, personally works with his kids on “extra” homework most weeknights, and he genuinely cares a lot about their future.
The thing is, he lives in an area that’s known for a very good public school system. So my thought is, why waste money on the private schools, when you can send your kids to a public school system for a good quality education at no additional cost? His real estate taxes are probably contributing to the cost of the schools anyway, so why not get what you’re paying for by living there anyway?
Now, I could see a few cases where a private school might be a much better choice:
- One is if the local public school system is inferior to the private school. If there’s a noticeable difference, it might be worth paying the extra money, or moving to where the public schools are better.
- A second type of situation where a private school could potentially be better is if it offers a religious/values-based education that you personally really want for your kid. I can respect that, realizing that it’s important for some and not for others, and either way is okay.
However, in the absence of those two factors, wouldn’t a public school be a better choice? In other words, if the public schools are high performing and safe, and you don’t require a faith-based education, why not just send the kids to public schools and save the money? That money saved could help you in your retirement! Or, it could be applied to help them with their college education or even graduate school! After all and as we have discussed here, education impacts wealth.
I’m curious what you think.
My Questions for You:
What do you think of the friend’s notion that he wants to send kids to private school even though the local public schools are high-performing?
What type of schooling did you have – public or private?
Which type of schooling would you (or did you) choose for your family, and why?