Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Different Types of Schools in America

So I bet you've all heard of friends saying: "ooh I hate the public school system" or "My kids goes to a charter school!" or "I will only send my kids to private schools." Truth be told, most people who "only" want to send their kids to say private schools or public schools don't really understand what those different systems mean. Here's a breakdown of what each system is about and my personal opinion on hoe you should choose what sort of schools you should send your kids to.

Public Schools: Public Schools get their funding from local, state, and federal governments. Usually, most public schools take students within a certain geographic border. Public schools are generally free although there may be some book or special class fees at certain times.

Charter Schools: These schools are in essence independent "public schools" started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit organizations. Although Charter schools do receive a portion of their funding through tax dollars, their sponsoring group must also come up with private funding. Charter schools must still follow the basic curriculum requirements of their state but other than that, they may choose to create their own curriculum, school structure and are usually free of rules and regulations that apply to regular public schools. Because of this advantage, Charter Schools usually challenge the standard education level and may sometimes specialize in a certain field (i.e. technology, science, arts, etc.) or in a certain form of curriculum. Their classes are usually smaller as well. Many charter schools accept students on a first-come, first-served basis, although in the case where there are too many applicants, via a lottery basis while others have waiting lists. Charter schools are not allowed to charge tuition to their students.

Magnet Schools: These schools are highly competitive, highly selective public schools renowned for their special programs, superior facilities, and high academic standards. They may specialize in a particular area, such as science or the arts. Students who apply to these schools go through a rigorous testing and application process. Some magnet schools have boarding facilities to allow students from out of state to attend. Magnet schools were first launched in the late 1970s to help desegregate public school systems by encouraging children to attend schools outside their neighborhoods. Student diversity is still an explicit goal of most magnet schools. *Source:

Private Schools: Private schools, also known as independent schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students tuition, rather than relying on public (government) funding. Students can get a scholarship into a private school which makes the cost cheaper depending on a talent the student may have e.g. sport scholarship, art scholarship, academic scholarship etc. Voucher plans allow parents to use their tax dollars that would otherwise be used to educate their child in a public school and apply those dollars towards tuition at a private or religious school. These schools may charge some amount beyond the voucher and may not have to accept all applicants, depending on the voucher program guidelines. They may be coed or single sex schools. About 25 percent of the elementary and secondary schools in the United States are private.

Parochial Schools: Parochial schools are church-related schools, most commonly owned and operated by Catholic parishes or dioceses but also by Protestant denominations. Hebrew schools may also be termed parochial. The majority of the private schools in the United States are parochial schools. The academic curriculum at these schools is supplemented with required daily religious instruction and prayer. Teachers may be clergy or lay persons who may or may not be trained educators. Your child doesn't have to be Catholic to attend a parochial school, but she will still be required to attend religious education classes and prayer services. Parochial schools generally cost between $ 1,200 and $ 2,400 per year for an elementary school student and between $ 4,600 and $ 7,500 for a high school student. *Source:

I generally prefer charter or magnet schools due to the emission of tution costs and the fact that they are much higher quality schools than most public schools. However, may it be charter schools, magnet schools, or private schools, you must be very careful about your selection. Always take a tour of the school and talk to the teachers and administrators about their curriculum and school mission. I have found some private schools, that charge ridiculous amounts of tuition, to be more worse-off than public schools. I taught a student who went to a private school where tuition per month was $3000. The teachers were horrendous and often graded her papers wrong. They would give her points for errors that she made and deduct points from things that were done correctly. It really boggled my mind. Make sure you google the school and find reviews. I would even go abou 10 mins before school lets out. You would often find parents and nannies waiting curbside for their kids. Ask them what they thought of the school, teachers, and curriculum. I often find the best reviews from nannies as most parents want the whole to believe their child is in the best school:) I dont blame them, especially after how much they usually fork out. Don't worry if you don't have the financial ability to send your child to "THE" private school. There are plenty of great public schools, charter schools and magnet schools out there. What's most important is that you are involved with your child's school work and if you feel it's not at the level required, to supplement it with your own teaching or with external resources. I hope this posting helps. If you have more detailed questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me! I'll be glad to help!

1 comment:

  1. do you have any comment on teaching Chinese at home?!


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