When it comes to high school graduation rates, private and public schools are about the same with 89% in public schools, 91% in public charter schools, and 92% in private schools. The real difference comes when you compare how many graduates went on to university, which is 40% for public schools, 37% for public charter schools, and 64% for private schools.
Now this makes sense because public schools are available to poorer families that cannot afford college and thus only end up with a high school diploma, whereas families who can afford private school usually come from a richer background and can afford to send their children to university even after their more expensive private schooling. Money Crashers estimates the average cost of a private education as around $10,740 per child in 2011-12 school year, their estimate for public schooling was far more varied. For public schooling they list the example of Paoli, near the renowned Tredyffrin-Easttown public school district, whose cost is $14,436 a year or 34% more than the average cost of private schools. Keep in mind that Paoli is a cheaper neighborhood than Tredyffrin-Easttown and these are calculated for only a single child, but even still private schools win out.
The problem with all of this talk about the cost of public education is that it doesn’t account for taxes. Public schooling is only available to taxpayers. So using the average US household income of $51,939, a taxpaying family running their kids through public school pays $16,360 plus book rental and other extracurricular expenses per child per year while an anarchist, tax avoiding family putting their kids through a private school would only be paying the $10,740 per child per year. So anarchists are the ones getting the best deal and saving an average of $5,620 per child per year.
But even despite the “lower” price due to
tax theft revenue, public schools are still not as effective as private schools. According to the NCES report “Private Schools: A Brief Portrait”, private students perform better on standardized tests than public students, private schools generally have stricter graduation requirements than public schools (which when matched with the higher graduation rates really speaks to their effectiveness). Private students are more likely than public students to complete advanced-level courses in mathematics, sciences, and foreign languages, and private students are more likely than public students to complete a bachelor’s or advanced degree by their mid-20s (Source). These are all possible because they are not bound by the regulations and bureaucracy that binds public schools. Plus, being private institutions, they must compete and stay effective to remain viable alternatives on the educational marketplace and to do that they must innovate. And when they innovate they surpass the state education (Source).
Of course there is one other major problem with public schooling and that is the risk of indoctrination. I know some of you will immediately dismiss this point and label it as a conspiracy theory or the like. And I’m not exactly big on conspiracies myself, but I think everyone needs to at least recognize the threat state run education poses in this regard. As every authoritarian government knows, indoctrination starts in the schools, the younger you get them the easier it is to control them as adults.
The Nazis knew this when they started the Hitler Youth and began injecting their ideological propaganda into the education systems of Germany. Those indoctrinated children went on to become important members of the adult Nazi Party that began the revolution that brought Adolf Hitler to power (Source). The Soviets, though they were less effective at this, knew it as well and implanted the idea of a communist utopia in the minds of the successive generations through public schooling. Lenin himself even wrote a speech titled “Tasks of the Youth Leagues”, in which he says “That is why, while rejecting the old type of schools, we have made it our task to take from it only what we require for genuine communist education” (Source).
I’m not saying the modern, Western nations are on the same level as the Nazis or the Soviets, but the threat is always there. Even today in the United States, we say the pledge of allegiance every morning which basically is an oath to always be aligned with the government and whatever they promote despite any circumstances.
This threat of indoctrination is there in private schools as well. Cases of individual teachers indoctrinating religion into their students without the parents’ or school’s permission has occurred in both public and private schools and at university and elementary levels of education. This can even happen on a schoolwide basis in private schools since many of them are in fact religious schools bent on teaching dogmatic beliefs rather than scientific fact. But the benefit of private schools in this regard is you can always choose to stop supporting the school which is indoctrinating your children and enroll them into another one. In public schools you do not have this option. You can move to another public school, but moving outside your school district comes with a certain fee in many areas and even if you do the school is still going to be bound by the same regulations and budget that bound the last school you went to.
Private schools operate like private businesses. They benefit when the market is freer, they are allowed to innovate, and the consumer is free to choose whichever school they like. Public schooling just stifles the customer base of private schools by providing taxpayers with a “cheaper” option to the people the government who run the schools steals from. So to all those new graduates who just came out of a public high school, I urge you to save yourself, your money, and your freedom by at least choosing a private university for your college degree.