Private elementary schools not worth the money

March 23, 2017 — by Ashley Su and Katherine Zhou

Since they have plenty of money and want the highest academic standards for their kids, many Bay Area parents contemplate the idea of enrolling their children in private schools at young ages.

But with the high quality of public schools in communities like Los Gatos and Saratoga, many of which compare favorably with private schools, parents have to decide whether spending $10,000, $20,000 or even $40,000 for annual tuition is truly worth it.

Although many private schools boast small class sizes, the differences aren’t extreme. Many local private elementary schools such as St. Andrews, Sacred Heart and Hillbrook have a student-teacher ratio of about 16:1, with local public elementary schools like Argonaut, Saratoga and Foothill Elementary having a ratio of about 21:1.

Another enticing feature of private schools is their plentiful funding. This results in additional specialized courses and free school equipment like laptops or iPads for students.

Yet for elementary school education, whose central purpose is to provide a solid foundation in basic subjects like math and English and simply teach kids how to behave in a classroom, course variety seems excessive and unnecessary. When students are still learning how to add and subtract or even learning how to properly speak English, taking a language course like Japanese or Latin doesn’t pose much benefit. Moreover, students can easily learn these languages in middle school or high school, after they’ve mastered basic mathematical and grammatical skills.

Along with that, many public schools in wealthier areas like Saratoga already have sufficient and above average resources from their taxpayers, like computer labs and free study materials such as Spanish workbooks.

Some advocates for private schools may argue that going to theml allows students to appreciate the cost of education, but young children are hardly ever grateful for their parents’ sacrifices, and this may set an unhealthy precedent of feeling entitled to affluent schools and their resources.

Parents may also choose private schools because they have fun social events or field trips that are paid for, but in wealthy areas, public schools have access to many of these events as well. For elementary school in particular, it is much easier for public institutions to match the academic level of private ones. So while private high schools or middle schools may be worth the price tag in some cases, parents should think twice before sending their children to private elementary schools when public schools are equally good and don’t charge for a valuable education.

 

 

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