Public Schools Superior to Private Schools


Brett Huser, Reporter

At all levels of schooling, parents and students have to decide to attend either a public school or a private school. In recent decades, more and more families have begun to explore the route of private and charter schools for their children to attend. Private schools are typically stereotyped as being nicer than public schools and having superior education. However, these preconceived stereotypes aren’t exactly accurate. Public schools offer significant benefits in contrast to private schools, making them an overall better option for students to attend.

One essential benefit of public schooling is the persistent diversity that public schools contain and embrace. The reason for this diversity is that public schools admit all children in their community. Students of all races, religions, backgrounds, and family income levels are welcomed at all public schools. Diversity is a great aspect to have in schools, as students learn and interact with all different kinds of people. Growing up in a diverse environment will help children become better adapted for the adult world and their future careers. 

Private schools, on the other hand, tend to lack diversity, and have historically been overrepresented by white students. When students learn in an environment with everyone being just like them, they aren’t being properly prepared for their future careers. Students in private schools will never experience going out of their comfort zone when working with others and will miss out on building essential interaction and teamwork skills with a diverse group. This could hold them back in the real world, a world that involves collaborating with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Novato High junior Nathan Rawlins had been enrolled in a private school up until high school. Rawlins shared his thoughts on the diversity at Novato High.

“I appreciate the racial diversity at NHS,” said Rawlins. “It’s cool to see a high school that accepts people for who they are and what they represent. I feel that this diversity positively impacts the school’s environment because you’re usually never interacting with the same type of people every day, and you can always learn something new about different people you meet.”

Another benefit of public schools is that they have a much greater sense of community in comparison to private schools. Public schools often tend to be the centerpiece and heart of the communities they serve. Public schools usually consist of students from their geographical district. With a student body being very local and communal, it gives the entire school a sense of togetherness, as if it is one big family. 

In contrast, private schools admit students from all over. Students are often from different parts of town, different cities, and even different counties. This makes it nearly impossible for private schools to grasp a sense of community and makes it challenging for students to connect and spend time together outside of school. 

Public schools offer a place for everyone in a community to attend sporting events, performances, concerts, seminars, and other local events all run through the school. Athletes and performers can represent their hometown by performing with their local schools in front of local crowds. Public schools tend to have full crowds at these events due to this sense of community.

Most public schools have been around for a very long time, and have histories that go back generations. Due to the reliability and longevity of public schools, parents often send their children to the same schools that they once went to. This often leads to teachers teaching multiple generations of a family. Public schools have a much lower teacher turnover in comparison to private schools, mainly because public school teachers usually earn higher salaries than those at private schools. Teachers and administrators can become well-known figures throughout the community, across many different generations. This can form great relationships between faculty and students, which you likely wouldn’t be able to experience at a private school.

NHS Assistant Principal Greg Fister discussed the communal feeling he sees here at Novato High.

“Taking the public school route allows you to develop close relationships you’ve had since elementary school, and possibly attend the same school(s) as your parents,” said Fister. “This being my 5th year at Novato High, I’ve met thousands of students, who are academically motivated and socially engaged, who aspire to do great things. Our students are personable, delightful, and have the coolest personalities. The culture we have built at Novato High is one of a kind and wonderful because of our kids and staff.”

Another benefit of public schools is their unbeatable cost and value. Students can attend public schools for free, with the only possible expenses being school supplies and sports equipment. Private schools, on the other hand, cost thousands of dollars for students to attend each year. According to, the average annual tuition among the nation’s 22,440 private schools is $12,350, with the average for high schools around $16,040 annually. Private school students need to pay this pricey tuition for four years. This can hurt students financially, and makes it much harder for them to afford college, especially if they want to attend an out-of-state school.

 College student debt is a crucial, nationwide problem that affects the majority of students, regardless of what type of high school they attend. Students who attend private high schools are digging themselves into a hole financially. They have to pay for schooling for 8-10 years straight. The majority of students are incapable of paying for this unless they are on a scholarship or have an extremely affluent background. 

 The solution to avoiding this problem is simple: Attend a free, public high school. Attending a private high school simply isn’t worth it due to the financial burden that comes with it. Students can receive a learning experience from a public school that is just as good, if not better than private schools.

Studies and statistics show that over time, public schools tend to outperform private schools when it comes to making up for academic deficiencies among students. Public schools typically have students with much greater degrees of poverty than those that attend private schools. As such, public school students start with much greater academic deficiencies. Even so, public schools tend to make up for these deficiencies over a course of 4 years much more easily than private schools.

The reason for these results may be due to the difference in teaching styles. Private schools usually have smaller class sizes and smaller student-to-teacher ratios in comparison to public schools. Teachers and professors of private schools are instructed to offer “one-on-one time” with their students and hold their hand along the way of learning. 

Whereas in public schools, class sizes are usually about twice as large as private school classes, and there is little to no “one-on-one time” between students and teachers. This is a beneficial quality of public school education, as it forces students to conduct research on their own and to work and collaborate with others to complete tasks. This teaching style is very effective and important, as it prepares students for what their jobs will be like when they are adults. In the real world, you aren’t always going to have someone you can lean on and use as a lifeline whenever you come across a problem or experience adversity. It is up to you to make a change and better the situation for yourself.

Rawlins weighed in on the difference between the two teaching styles.

“My private school didn’t prepare me well on how to handle stress and didn’t teach me how to have a good worth ethic. Novato High has taught me both of these skills in just two and a half years,” said Rawlins. “Some of my teachers here at Novato can be too strict at times, but it definitely helps me with staying on task and consistently turning in assignments on time.”

For most subjects, both public and private schools follow the same curriculum. The deemed idea that private schools provide more knowledge and educational context is inaccurate. Both types of schools learn the same curriculum, at the same time. The only difference is within the teaching style. Most private schools don’t offer any significant programs or opportunities that public schools don’t. Some public schools tend to have more freedom than private schools when it comes to offering a wide range of electives and programs.

Fister proved this to be true from a local standpoint, describing what NHS has to offer.

“We (Novato High) offer specialized programs that you can’t find anywhere else,” he said. “All of the arts within MSA, Medical Careers Pathway courses for 4 years which includes an internship. Our AVID program, the ability to take between 1-6 AP courses a semester due to our 7-period day bell schedule. Incredible new athletics fields/facilities, new Science Center, new Arts Center and a swimming pool on campus.”

Private or public, no other school in Marin County offers as many unique programs as Novato High does. A lot of these specialized programs have helped create an identity for Novato, and have proved we are more than just an average, boring public school. 

So what exactly are parents spending these thousands of dollars on? When you look into all of these details, you can conclude that paying thousands of dollars to send your children to private schools is a waste of money, and seems quite useless. 

When deciding on what type of school to send their children to, parents should really reconsider and look into the logistics of both types of schools and question if it is actually worth sending their children to these overrated, over-glorified, expensive private schools.