Private School Vs. Home School

More and more parents are growing unhappy with the education their children are receiving in the public education system. This unhappiness is making parents start to look elsewhere for the education they feel their children deserve. The options parents have for schooling their children are continuing public school, private school, charter school, virtual school & home school. This article will weigh the options of sending a child to private school or making the choice to home school.

Private schools usually require paying a tuition that you do not have to pay at a public school as public schools receive tax money from the state to fund them that private schools do not. According to CAPE, The Council for American Private Education, average cost of private school tuition per year in 2007-2008 were ranging from $8,549 to $17,316 depending on if a religious private school was chosen or not. Luckily for parents there are becoming more and more scholarships and grants being awarded to students that may have a financial need to help offset some of the expense of the school.

According to the Florida Department of Education “Private schools are not subject to school definitions and requirements specified in education statues.” Translated from legal speak this means that the laws that are handed down to public schools such a classroom size and teacher certification requirements are not enforced on private schools. An inside source told this author of a private high school in Southern Florida that employs only one certified teacher. The problem with this is that she is certified to teach Elementary school. The lack of certification reaches so far in this particular school that the principal is not even a certified teacher. As parents become more aware of the lack of requirements placed on private schools many parents are turning to homeschooling their children. According to the Dr. Brian Ray’s book, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, home school students scores on national achievement tests were 31-37 percentile points above the national average in all subjects.

The state of Florida has only basic requirements on homeschooling families, notice of implementation of a home school program, a notice of ending of the home school program, a kept portfolio, and a yearly evaluation. Once the parent or guardian has decided to implement a home school program the parent must notify the school district they are assigned to in writing of their intention to home school within 30 days of the initiation of the home school program. This can be done by simply writing a letter to the school district stating the date the program is to begin along with all students that will be attending the program. If the parent does not feel comfortable enough to write the letter each school district has a form that can be filled out by the parent and submitted in person or through the mail. At the end of the home school program, whether the parent is returning the children to a private or public school or graduating the child from their program another letter or form is required to be submitted within 30 days of completion to the school district in the same manner as the implementation letter was. The school district also has a form for ending the program if the parent prefers to submit this requirement in this way. During the course of the year it is a general rule that the parent keep some sort of portfolio for each student that can be inspected should the school district request it. This also comes in handy during evaluation time. The school district does require that all students have a yearly evaluation. This evaluation is by the parents choosing of the child to either take the FCAT which can be arranged through the school district or by having a certified teacher evaluate the child. During a teacher evaluation, which can be done online, the teacher is able to talk to the student and look at the work they have completed over the course of the school year ensure the child is making progress.

There are many benefits to homeschooling. Flexibility is a huge benefit of homeschooling. The normal school year runs from August to May with designated breaks throughout the school year. There are many homeschooling families that roughly follow this same pattern throughout their school year. Other homeschooling families choose to school year round taking more frequent short breaks. Year round schooling prevents re-teaching of lost information over the summer months. Short breaks ensure the child does not get burnt out during the school year. Parents can also choose to school around their work schedule meaning they can school their children in the evening and on weekends should their schedule only permit these times.

Whatever reason that causes an individual family to start looking for an alternative to public schools a well thought out decision with a lot of research is needed. Some families choose private schools as they believe that is what is best for their children. Private schools are a great option as long as the parent thoroughly inspects the school to ensure they have certified teachers, a continuing education plan for those teachers, the teachers are willing to teach to the style of learning that is best suited for their child’s needs and they can afford the tuition that goes along with the school that meets all of their requirements.

Sometimes a parent simply can not find that school that their individual child needs or the education they desire for their child. This is where homeschooling comes into the forefront of their mind. A child has more one on one time with their parent to learn then a child in any other school. The parent can tailor their teaching method to their child which especially comes in handy when a child has ADD, ADHD or another learning disability. The biggest benefit educationally to homeschooling is that if a child just doesn’t get a math concept or understand the periodic table in science; the parent does not have to skip it just because another lesson is scheduled the next day. The parent has the ability to put off future lessons and concentrate on that child’s learning needs within a lesson before continuing on. No harm, no foul, no bad grades, just educated children.

Sources:

CAPE – The Council for American Private Education
Florida Department of Education
Dr. Brian Ray, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, National Home Education Institute, Salem, OR 1997