Friday, April 08, 2005

Public v. Private

I've been digging through SAT scores for Washington's students, and I find the comparison between public and private school mean scores interesting. For 2004:

Verbal: 526
Math: 530

Verbal: 554
Math: 552

Of course, there are far fewer private school students in the pool (2,508) compared to public school students (27,467), but maybe that's a good argument for increasing one pool and decreasing the other. Maybe it's a good argument for allowing parents to send their children to the best schools they can think of using some or all of the $9,688 per-student we're currently spending every year on public schools.

Hm. Maybe.


At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe it's time to fairly compensate teachers in such a way the public sector would attract the best educators now teaching in private schools, and elevate learning for all students without hurting those who will never have an opportunity for a private school education for geographical or financial or other reasons. Education is the paramount duty of the state under the Washington Constitution. When it's the paramount duty of private industry, Marsha, your argument will hold water. Not until then.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger RLG said...

Curious how, for some people, it always comes out as a need for more funding for public education. Not that teachers should work at low wages, but if your figures of over $9600 per student are correct, a classroom of 25 students would receive $240,000, which would seem more than enough to pay a decent teacher’s salary and a reasonable amount of “overhead” for administrative costs, etc.

Somehow, it doesn’t look like funding is the most likely explanation for underperformance in the public school systems. I’d suspect bureaucratic inefficiencies and the negative impact of the teachers’ unions that work to protect incompetence (dragging down overall achievement to less acceptable levels) along with burdensome paperwork that drains teachers of their energies while robbing them of precious time for actual teaching (driving the best of them out of the profession) as more likely causes for what’s observed as “problems” in public education.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

One of the more reasonable explanations I've heard for the difference without resorting to "private is better than public" is that private schools have the ability to accept or reject students that don't meet their standards whereas public schools must take the low achievers as well as the high. How would you go about responding to that?

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do North Dakota kids always test so much higher than the rest of the country?

I believe it is sensory overload. While the kids in the Dakotas have TV,etc., most of life is for survival due to extreme climate. Another factor is lesser population and the difficulty in disappearing in a 3000+ high school.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous John Kutscher said...

Nathan pointed out Private Schools get to chose the cream. Answer (hope I'm doing this justice): Washington should initially try new publically funded private schools for the riskier students, such as special needs students. Charter schools have risen to that very challenge and performed well.

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. I'll comment on this.

1) Public schools have enough money. The two biggest problems are: Administrative costs (often at the state level) and placing a huge burden on the teachers to do much more than just teach the basics. If teachers were allowed to just teach, they would be able to do much more. I'll also throw in the inability for proper discipline in the classroom---which is just about the same as not being able to just teach.

2) I know both public and private school teachers. The private schools may not have as many poor, but many are just as full of bad students. Private schools often become the repository of students rejected by public schools! There are elite private schools which don't take just anybody, but many private schools need all the students they can get to make ends meet. And in addition, private schools don't just get to "choose the cream," it is more of a case of the cream choosing the private schools. If the public schools would provide a solid education, the "cream" would not leave.


At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many retired public school teachers who teach in private schools. They receive their annual pension and still do what they love - teach.

However, they are forbidden from teaching in public schools due to union contract rules.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be prepared for some politically incorrect thoughtss. Here are three problems (that I see as a parent in a public school: One is that special needs "education" is so incredibly expensive and is not education at all. Most of these kids play with toys all day, are wheeled around at recess several times during the day, get physical therapy, and put round blocks into square holes. We are a "centered school" where most special needs kids go. The ratio of "students" to teachers for special needs is almost one to one. This is not education folks, these kids are not learning how to read or write -they are being babysat at the taxpayers expense. Two - illegal immigrants children are all over our school. These kids don't speak English at school, so we give them ESL classes. They don't speak English at home, so there is no practicing of the language there. Our ESL teacher has her own room, but the arts and music teachers do not. They also use up many dollars in free and reduced meals. Three is underperforming kids. Let's face it. Most of these kids come from homes where there is little to no supervision, less parenting and no support. These kids are behavior problems and educational problems. Yet, they are passed to the next grade without fail, even though they can't read. This is a fact and you will see it in many schools.

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