As a parent, I thought it’d be interesting to write about the differences between public school and private school people. If you are trying to decide between spending money on private school or getting a free education, this post may help.
As someone who went to mostly private international schools through the 8th grade and public high school, college, and graduate school, I’ve experienced both sides. These experiences have shaped who I am today.
In recent years, I regularly play recreational softball where most of the players hail from public schools. I’m also a member of a private tennis club where I play weekly. There are subtle differences between the two that are worth mentioning.
Differences Between Public And Private School People
Let me start by saying I’ve met some great people who graduated from both public and private schools. It’s hard to draw conclusions based on anecdotal observations over the years. Stereotyping is lazy reporting.
Further, this article could be titled, “The Differences Between Softball And Tennis Players.” Given I haven’t worked a day job since 2012, I won’t be using co-workers as examples.
Ultimately, my hope is that you readers share your perspectives as well so I can build upon this post over time. Maybe you are a private school product. Or maybe you are a parent who currently sends your kid to public school. I want to know your observations!
It’s worth noting that only about 10% of American kids attend private grade school. Therefore, I assume the majority of readers are pro-public school and have lots of good things to say about public school graduates.
Here are the main differences between public and private school people that I’ve noticed.
1) Must Learn How To Fend For Yourself (Public)
In high school (public), I got into a couple of fights to fend off bullies. As a result, I got suspended once. It was during this time that I realized I really had to stand up for myself. If I did not, I would have kept getting picked on by this one musclebound guy.
It was also during high school that I realized some classmates came from more difficult homes. For example, one classmate actually went on The Jerry Springer Show and told the world about his abusive and alcoholic father.
Before coming to America, I lived in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei for international private middle school and elementary school. During that time, I wasn’t aware of any of my friends not having both a mother and father. Then again, I wasn’t paying close attention to family dynamics.
If you send your kids to public school, I recommend they take a self-defense class. It can’t hurt. In the off chance they get into a fight, their self-defense skills might save them a lot of pain.
Disrespect In Softball
When I first started playing recreational softball in 2017, I was badgered by a disrespectful 23-year-old (public high school and college grad). Every time I made a mistake or had to leave to take care of my kids, he would bark a snide remark.
As a high school tennis coach, I’m always encouraging to my students. Thus, this guy’s attitude was rather jolting. I never criticize anybody for playing a recreational sport. None of us are going pro.
After one too many jabs at me, I started giving it right back to him whenever he messed up. After a while, he finally backed down. He realized he would probably get a beat down if he continued. Now we get along fine. But it was curious to see some young buck challenge a new guy to try and gain some dominance.
It feels like with my public school softball friends, there’s slightly more of a challenge to see who is best. Whereas with my private school softball friends, there’s more modesty regarding showing off one’s abilities.
Therefore, in a public school-dominated environment, you must learn how to not only fend for yourself but also assert your dominance.
At the extreme, think about a movie scene where a character beats up the baddest person in prison to gain respect. Public school graduates seem to have more of an edge when it comes to survival.
Related: Are You Dirt? Then Don’t Let People Walk All Over You
2) More Sensitivities About Money (Public)
Private school graduates tend to come from a more homogenous financial background. Although private schools try to diversify their student body, the majority of families make more money than the median household income. Therefore, private school graduates may have less sensitivities about money.
The less sensitive you are about something, the greater the risk of ignorance. Other words for ignorance could include spoiled, entitled, privileged, or clueless.
For example, with private school friends, you may not think twice about suggesting going out for sushi because who doesn’t love raw fish and sake? $50 – $100/head? No big deal!
However, if you have a mix of private school and public school friends, you may be more cognizant of people’s financial situation. Therefore, you might suggest going out for pizza and beer instead because you want to be more inclusive.
Public school graduates seems to be much more cognizant about financial equity. For example, when the bill comes, it tends to be divided up as equally as possible. Whereas private school graduates tend not to keep track of spending as closely.
Back To A Softball Conflict
There’s another softball guy who likes to give me grief when I don’t give 100% effort all the time. He’s kind of like Al Bundy from the TV show, Married With Children, because he enjoys referencing his high school glory days.
“Al,” my softball acquaintance, is I’m his late 30s (public high school and public college grad), has no children, and is trying to grow his personal fitness training business.
He’s generally a nice guy and I like him. But Al doesn’t understand that if I pull a hamstring, sprain a wrist, or injure my back, taking care of my young children will become very difficult.
Given my children are more important than Saturday morning softball, I try to operate at a 70%-80% capacity to help minimize injury. I’ve explained my situation before whenever he criticizes my effort, but he doesn’t seem to care. Curiously, he doesn’t give grief to others who show my same effort.
One time, I was playing third base and he was playing short stop. He wouldn’t stop barking orders at me regarding where to stand and where to go. This was after he had already said something else annoying.
I’m a veteran third baseman. But he was talking so much that I missed a grounder for a potential double play. How embarrassing.
I had enough of his order-giving, so I gave it right back at him when he missed a couple plays. He started to quiet down as he was not used to other people giving him crap. He’s a good, strong player.
Crossing The Line
When we got off the field, I told him if he wanted to grow his personal training business, he should try to be more encouraging instead of so critical. Research has shown that performance tends to decline when you are constantly criticized. As parents, we are also taught to praise effort, not outcome.
This is when he almost exploded. He glared at me while pointing a finger and said, “You’ve gone too far! Back off!”
He felt like I was attacking his business and manhood. But all I was doing was giving him some advice as a business owner, coach, and father. I immediately shut up to let him cool off.
He then hit a homer and I gave him a fist bump when he rounded the bases.
We were good soon after because he then shared some encouraging words when I went up to bat.
I originally thought what I said was no big deal, as I was trying to provide constructive feedback. His constant yammering seemed like a blindspot.
However, by the time the game was over, I realized that I did go too far. He lives humbly and COVID didn’t help his business. He also has a high-income earning spouse who went to private school. So there may have been some sensitivities here as well.
If he ever needs business advice, I’ll gladly give it as I’m constantly looking for constructive feedback myself. But I will never voluntarily try and connect the dots for him anymore.
3) More Pleasantries, More Vulnerability (Private)
Anybody can sign up for Meetup softball. There’s an online signup system based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once 22 slots are taken, you are put on the waitlist. People from all skill levels and backgrounds can come to play. Overall, I think it’s a great system.
In contrast, not everybody can join my tennis club. There is a one-year-plus waitlist and prospective members need a sponsor and three letters of recommendation. I’ve noticed that at least half the members are private school graduates.
Once all the letters of recommendation are in, a prospective member’s name then gets put on a cork board at the entrance of the club for a month. The purpose of putting the prospect’s name up is so that other members can bring up any past grievances. If someone does, the prospective member likely won’t get in.
Given there is a thorough vetting process, nobody is unpleasant. Everybody is respectful of everybody else and rules are almost always followed, e.g. court usage time, mask policy when there was one, number of guests you can bring a year, etc.
The Fear Of Being Blackballed
If you gain a reputation as being a difficult person, everything from your membership to your business to your child’s education could be at stake. The fear of being blackballed in any type of setting is real. Therefore, you tend to always be on your best behavior.
Of course, there will be some people you won’t get along with. However, you won’t go out of your way to make them feel bad like I’ve constantly observed in recreational softball. You’ll just ignore them and play with other people. In essence, you feel very safe – both physically and emotionally – at my club.
The danger of growing up in an environment where everybody is respectful is that it’s not like the real world. We all know the world is a highly competitive and cruel place.
When you inevitably face hate online or a bully in the workplace, if you’ve always been sheltered in a private setting, you will be less equipped to know how to deal with the situation. As a result, you may be more susceptible to quitting.
Letting people buy a co-op, join a private club, or enter a private school almost always requires a unanimous decision. Therefore, even if just one person dislikes you from a long time ago, your chances of admission could be screwed.
Related: The Importance Of Feeling Uncomfortable For Personal Growth
4) More Day-To-Day Stress (Private)
I regularly play with my friend William, who went to public school. He retired in his 50s working in IT at Wells Fargo. He’s a really easy going guy who lives alone. He never ended up marrying and has no children.
William has the most flexible schedule I know, which is why we played over 50 times in 2020. He’s also quirky, which is a trait I appreciate. One of his quirks is that he doesn’t bring his phone on the tennis court. Instead, he leaves it in his 1993 Volvo.
He explained to me, “Why would I bring my phone when all I want to do is play tennis?”
Makes sense to me!
I also regularly play tennis with a club member named Craig, who is a banker. Not only does he bring his phone onto the tennis court like most people, but he also wears an Apple Watch while playing.
More than 50% of the time we play, he has to interrupt our hit to take a phone call. Usually, the phone call lasts under a minute. But sometimes, he’s had to speak for 15+ minutes while I’m just twiddling my thumbs.
Other times, he’ll interrupt our game midway because he’ll receive a text on his Apple Watch. I would say something because my one sanctuary from electronics is playing tennis. However, I say nothing because he’s a busy guy.
Most of my private school or private club friends seem to struggle to make time for leisure. Whereas most of my public school friends have more flexible schedules.
Related: Don’t Make Over $400,000, Look How Miserable These People Are
Attend Both Public And Private Schools
Because there’s more diversity in public schools, you’re forced to learn how to interact with more types of people. This skill can help you better navigate life after high school and college.
Growing up with a wider range of economic backgrounds may also make you better appreciate what you have. You might get more motivated to build more wealth as well.
Some families I know have been able to shelter their kids from the real world. Their kids may grow up in a gated community, attend private school, play at a private club, go to a private university, get a high-paying job, marry someone from a wealthy family, and the cycle repeats.
But I’m not sure if this type of life is as rewarding as someone who starts with a beat-up Toyota Corolla and ends up driving a Porsche 911 Turbo S. It’s hard to appreciate what you have if you’ve always lived a very comfortable life.
Therefore, perhaps the best combination is to attend both public and private schools. This way, you won’t miss too much. Further, if more people make friends with people of all different backgrounds, then there will ultimately be more harmony in society. After all, we tend to be kinder to those we better understand.
As a parent, all I want is for my children to feel loved and safe. Some conflict is healthy as kids need to learn how to resolve difficult situations. However, conflict that results in violence or constant mental torture is not welcome.
Learn How To Get Along With Others
Regardless of where you go to school, it’s imperative to learn good communication skills. If you can also develop good conflict resolution skills, you’ll go much farther than someone who has not.
Personally, I’ve come to realize I enjoy hanging out with the public school crowd a little more. The banter is more interesting than the private school crowd. The amount of joking around is also much higher.
One of the reasons why I moved away from a high-cost neighborhood to a middle-cost neighborhood in 2014 was because I was tired of the environment. After leaving my finance job in 2012, I no longer fit in because I no longer cared about promotions, raises, and what other people were doing.
Instead, I wanted to hang out more with everyday people who weren’t focused on money and power.
My old neighbors consisted of techies, bankers, and lawyers. Today, my new neighbors are school teachers, plumbers, a techie, and several retirees. That feels just right for me.
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Readers, what are your thoughts on the differences between public and private school people? Which environment did you grow up in? How did conflict make you stronger? Which crowd do you prefer? I’d love to add more to this post based on reader feedback.
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Its really an interesting topic. I think on the whole you can’t really go wrong in either direction, in that it’s the individual who ultimately drives success. However, I have been exposed to numerous people from each side of the fence, and have found the conversations very different at times. Some of my private school friends tend to be culturally diverse (which is ironic because in most cases the private schools are not as diverse in attendee ratio as the public schools), and our conversations jump around more to all types of topics. They seem to be more polished and up to speed on everything. They also tend to have a more expecting mentality, in that they expect others to be ready to do whatever. Short notice trips, luxury vacations and the such. Where as a lot of my public schooled friends are more passionate about specific topics and areas. Our conversations while still ranging in areas, tend to focus more on their strength areas rather than learning other things.
Depending on the general wealth of the area and the strength of the school area, at least when looking at k-12, I find them very similar. Most of the people I have come across with private school background had done so based on curriculum desires, such as catholic schooling.
Both my parents went to private schools from k-12, and then public and private for college. They were both attending private catholic schools in their k-12 days. While they exposed us to some of the private school at times, it wasn’t full time. I recall doing some hybrid schooling in my younger years were I went to a public school, but I would leave for portions of the day and go to the private catholic school for additional learning both during school, and after school. I suppose there was some reason for that.
Looking back both of my parents learned Latin in private school as well as were exposed to several other languages. Neither of my parents really speak any other languages now, though I have heard my mom speaking Latin on occasion.
Anyways, My sisters and I ended up going the public school route, but since our public school in NY was in the suburbs it was basically a private school. We had numerous AP opportunities, and languages. All of my siblings and I ended up learning 1-2 languages. I have one sister who is actually fluent in 6. I can say I’m always jealous of her and her ability to switch between them. It certainly comes in handy to have her around when traveling though. Each of my siblings and I went on to several college degrees and all of them ended up going to public school route. Though each of us had numerous options for private school, we kind of felt like the cost wasn’t worth it. In the end we all found our place and it worked for us.
For my kids, we are definitely looking to go public. We actually were lined up for private in DC, but moved away to get better public and private school options. We didn’t want to feel forced to go private, and were not willing to play the “better” public school lottery now becoming more notorious in some areas, such as NOVA. After some of the private school interviews I was put off too. One school for k-2, was $36/year and that was truly only morning kindergarten too. The timeslot was 8-12. That option certainly didn’t jive with my wife and I who are both working. They had an option to add on an additional 3 hours a day for “after school” learning for another $19/k per year. Even with the extension there was going to be a gap with a normal work day, so additional care was going to be required. Something about paying nearly $55k per year for my 5 year old’s education didn’t sit well. The tuition alone was a higher cost that my college tuition by far! There was also suggested (read mandatory) yearly donations in the range of $10-25k, where I believe the expectation was $25k as a minimum. What ever happened to bake sales?! So as I noted we have moved to a new area with better public and private school options.
Based on my own experiences and ending up an executive even with public school as my base, I don’t think our kids must go to private school to succeed. That said, in my new neighborhood it’s certainly a mix. Half the families are pro public and half private. There is even one family where the boys go to public and the girls to private and no its not a girls only private school. I haven’t figured that one out yet.
I’m going to roll the dice on public for them with full expectations that it will put them on the path to success, and supplement learning if needed at home. we are fortunate as the “ratings” on our publics schools in area are all 9-10 range. And the private schools are top notch too – win win. As we approach Highschool, I may consider private if needed. We are very close to Philips Exeter Academy so we’ll see what happens. Perhaps I’ll be more willing to shell out $60k+ for each of the Highschool years by then. Lots of famous and talented people have walked those halls. Was it worth it…?
After further investigation, there is a potential loop hole as well. Apparently, they provide free tuition for families with incomes under $75k. I wonder if there are any people out there gaming the system similar to all of the other games being played with healthcare assistance and others. Maybe if I’m retired by then and my income is low enough…
Before making final choices, visit all the target schools in your area, probably several times. Make sure that you know the teachers’ accreditations and qualifications.
I was a fully qualified science high school teacher for 34 years at a private school until I retired and loved it. Unfortunately, towards the end of my time, I did feel that the lower salary scale was putting good teachers off. In my retirement, I am a substitute teacher in my local public elementary school district which is excellent. We live in a very comfortable Southern Californian area where parents demand excellence in their children’s education and the local population also expects educational excellence as it affects house prices directly. I feel that the teachers that I come into contact with now are better than many of the private school teachers that I dealt with previously.
My daughter married and went back to live in England. She took great care with the schooling of her two sons and they are now doing well at their selective public secondary schools. We did feel that the public elementary school has helped our grandsons deal well with all the ethnic groups in London, so necessary now.
I have always gone to public for every type of schooling I have ever had but my little brother wen to private school. So even though I didn’t go but I have experienced some of the differences you mention here. One thing, that stood out to me on a personal level is that I found private school kids tend to be much more relaxed when socializing and have better communication skills than public school kids. I’m sure their family backgrounds attributes to this but just in general I felt they’re much easier and less stressed during public speaking situations.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for the feedback. Very interesting. I am noticing examples of the same thing as well. Social skills is huge for getting on with life!
Nice article. I too went to private school until 6th grade then public through jr high and high school then private university. I agree with all of your points. I would like to add that it all depends on what you want your child to learn and experience. My kids go to private language school for elementary. Why? Because I want them to learn 2-3 languages.
Public schools in my city dont have strong language arts. My kids are also starting to take tennis seriously and now Im considering tennis academies in Florida. Private online schools is recommended bc public schools are not flexible with tennis training. What do you want your kids to learn? If public school has what your looking for then enroll them if not look at private school. Now affordability is another topic for another time.
Thanks for the article.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for sharing. We’re enrolling our children in a language immersion preschool as well. If they like it, we will continue. If not, then we will stay flexible and search for more options.
Language really is very valuable!
I find this fascinating. I graduated a public high school almost 50 years ago and a state university almost 40. I don’t recall public or private education ever being a subject of discussion, except where university pride is concerned. This is especially apparent with Ivy League and military academies.
Al Corrupt says
After years of working at a public school while her kids went to a private school my Mom determined the difference between the two was that private school kids could afford better drugs. Beyond that, if a parent is actually paying for their child’s education, they tend to be more involved, which is a critical difference.
I went to private third through eighth grades and public for early elementary and high school. Socially, I appreciated having more opportunities for friendship in public school but I do think the academics were much stronger in private.
I would have chosen to stay private if my parents could have afforded to keep me there. I also wonder if going to a smaller private college would have helped me stay focused and motivated on academics my first two years. I think the massive lectures and lack of accountability at my public impacted my motivation. By junior/senior year I got it together.
My kids are at a public school in a tiny geographic area. The class sizes cap at 24 in elementary and are lower in upper grades. I do think I relied too heavily on the public school to educate my elementary kids though. I have high standards. Once I realized I needed to do more at home to supplement, things have clicked. Covid taught me the importance of home schooling in addition to attending public school. Now that we supplement 20-30 mins most days I’m much happier and my kids are thriving and accelerating. If we could afford private school I would probably choose to send my kids but for now mommy/daddy school will suffice.
I appreciate this perspective when comparing the two Sam, I have never thought of it from this angle. My experience is private through 6th grade, then public through high school and public college. I come from a middle class family with one working parent and 6 boys. I appreciate the sacrifices my parents made to start me off in school the way they did. My wife and I are planning on sending our 4 children to a private (Catholic) school through 8th grade and then public for high school.
When I think about public vs private I mostly think of private being religious schools, since that was my experience, though I know that’s not always the case. For me it’s about the curriculum. The school our children will be attending (our oldest currently attends kindergarten there) focuses on classical education, which I really like. More math then science in the early years, more civics study then social study, critical thinking, how to think not what to think. Things like that.
Another thing that terrifies me of the public school system is the disciplinary system and zero tolerance policies. I accidentally brought a hunting knife to school that was found in my coat pocket during a random locker search, how that kind of thing is handled now vs 20 years ago and in a private vs public setting could have a huge impact on a child’s future, to use one example. I worry less about a teachers political bias showing in a private setting and I expect less discrimination based on gender and race in a private setting as well. I expect less “noise” in a private setting, more of a focus on the basic fundamentals of education.
For these reasons I am a huge supporter or at least starting children out in a private school setting. I only wish I had the time and resources to be able to homeschool my children.
My daughter went to public school through the 9th grade, then private for high school, now public for college. Her private high school ” La Salle” was split evenly with half the students on full ride scholarships, the other half paying full tuition. The thing I noticed was her private school friends were more respectful than her public school friends but they were also more arrogant regardless of income. Her public school friends were generally less respectful but had more empathy toward others. The differences were subtle yet noticeable.
In my opinion the private high school challenged her more and gave her a leg up in college. However, I still believe parents are the biggest factor in determining their kids success or failures. I believe most teachers would back me up on this statement.
Public schools can be rough, if you aren’t in the right clique, move around a lot, or like to read during breaks. That prison mentality that seemed to drive kids to be bullies was extremely evident. Fortunately, I only ever had to catch them away from school grounds once in order to issue a binding cease and desist (along with a few lumps, but most kids weren’t big enough for that).
As for the education? I went to a private school overseas for a couple of years but it wasn’t a whole lot different from US public schools (although much harder and there was no bullying).
K12 schools in the US? They need to throw out the whole shebang and reengineer/redesign all of it. Starting out with asking: What is the purpose and goal of society in educating children before they are legal adults? Obviously, it’s needed, but let’s put it into words as to why and what it is intended to do, and then see where that takes us. What we end up with might not resemble the current longevity based grade system in the slightest. The one where lip service to “no kids left behind” isn’t just an empty mantra or else is used to slow every other kid down to the rate of the slowest in the pack.
In times past (before COVID), teacher’s unions, school administrators, football dads, soccer moms (and, yes, cheerleader moms), school portrait photographers, yearbook printers, school ring jewelry companies, athletic gear makers, and so on, would have been an immovable obstacle. Now, if only a little, they are weakened . . . .
But the following quote is as true now as it was when Carl Sagan still lived.
“You go talk to kindergartners or first-grade kids, you find a class full of science enthusiasts. They ask deep questions. They ask, “What is a dream, why do we have toes, why is the moon round, what is the birthday of the world, why is grass green?”
These are profound, important questions. They just bubble right out of them.
You go talk to 12th graders and there’s none of that. They’ve become incurious. Something terrible has happened between kindergarten and 12th grade.”
— Carl Sagan
Christine Minasian says
SO well said! The whole public school system does need to be revamped for sure. It’s antiquated, full of bureaucracy and immovable Unions with special interests. But it also depends how your public/private schools are in your neighborhood.
Financial Samurai says
The prison mentality there’s something that I keep going back to. It can be really rough for some people.
And the conclusion coming down with is that if you are of small stature, or have some type of issue that is susceptible to getting bullied and picked on, perhaps going to a public school is not as ideal as going to a smaller private school.
Have you noticed any differences between private school and public school people after they have graduated?
Might be worth dissecting public schools between inner-city, suburbs, and rural. Also school size might play a roll.
I went to inner city public schools (k-12) in NY and Massachusetts. Both in low-med income neighborhoods. I never dealt with bullies and don’t recall it being a big issue.
My kids have gone to public school in NJ (inner-city) and TX (suburb). They are now homeschooled.
Parent involvement in the suburb public school my son attended in TX is crazy. Based on my personal experience, I would assume suburban public schools are similar to private schools when it comes to parent involvement. Could just be my district though.
My guess is the bullying issue probably correlates more with school size. Private schools tend to be smaller. I went to a small public school and, even though it was a poorly rated school academically, bullying was not an issue.
I wonder if your experience with private school would have been different had you gone to private school in the United States. When I was posted to New Delhi one of the officers had adopted children from tough backgrounds. He found the Embassy school’s academic level much too difficult for his children and ended up sending his children back to the US. I suspect an Embassy Intl school might be much more elitist than a random Catholic school.
Financial Samurai says
Maybe. I don’t know what I don’t know. All I knew growing up was that attending international schools was what foreigners did.
I didn’t see my classmates or my families as elitist at all. I just saw the mess regular people with pretty neat international backgrounds.
It was really fun to learn about so many different cultures. Of course, they were still altercations on the playground and on the pitch. But I’m not sure that was very different from other settings.
The really wealthy families or the local families who sent their kids to the international schools. They were all entrepreneurs and I was amazed.
I wonder if the differences you observe have more to do with public vs private school or if they are demographic based on income. Private school might be a proxy for upper class status. We just don’t have private schools around here, there aren’t any close enough to send kids to so public is the only option. But they are good public schools. I observe the same things you do regarding my multimillionaire friends versus my non-millionaire friends in terms of their behavior even though they are all public school products. But maybe to a lesser extent. If I knew any private school multimillionaires maybe they’d be even more different from the non-millionaires.
Canadian Reader says
This is hard to answer. It used to be that mostly everyone went to well respected public schools, where opportunity and support was abundant. There wasn’t as much pressure on the schools as there is today, and I’m not sure public school standards are what they once were.
I was a huge proponent of public school, but I’m realizing our children may benefit/need some private schooling with respect to the way Canada is developing and changing.
My husband went to catholic private schools his entire life including a expensive high school (LaSalle College Highschool) His parents sacrificed a lot for him and his brother to attend these schools. They really value education, both are teachers.
His brother is now a teacher and my husband is a city firefighter. Almost no one believes that my husband went there if it comes up in conversation. Frankly I think it was a big waste of money for them to go private.
Our kids go to a inner city charter school that we got in only because my father in law knew someone on the school board (school allows each board member 1 admission per year)
If we had to send our kids to a regular inner city school we would make the sacrifices to put them in a private non catholic school.
The charter school population is a mixed bag of low income to middle Class families. Top income earners are the firefighters, cops, nurses etc.
With zoom classes during covid you really got to peak into some of these kids home lives …and it’s not pretty
I’ve been to both as well. Public K-10, private 11-12, and public college. The public school I went to for K-2 was great, grades 3-6 were good. Middle school was fair and public high school was terrible. It progressively got worse and worse. I was lucky to be able to switch to private for 11-12.
I think a lot had to do with each school’s administration, the number of students, and the parents.
I certainly hope that my kids do well at their schools and like them. But if not, I’m all for home schooling. It’s a big commitment, but I enjoy teaching and the ability to do things more efficiently.
Suzanne Dobbins says
I went to public school and sent our kids to Catholic School because my husband encouraged it. We live in a small city, and our kid’s school was excellent. Very diverse, both in ethnicity and income. High standards academically. Then we moved and my youngest was bullied in her new Catholic school. I think the reason kids tend to do better in private schools is because the parents are actively involved. The new school reflected the attitude of our new town’s residents: wary of outsiders. In addition, higher education isn’t deemed important in this community. It’s unfortunate and I ended up homeschooling my daughter (worked very well when Covid hit!). Every school, public or private, has pros and cons, and every school community is different. Just make sure you do your homework when looking at particular schools.
Financial Samurai says
Sorry to hear about the bullying. Were you able to identify why the bully was a bully? I’m trying to figure out how much of it is on the parents who do not teach their children good manners. I’m glad homeschooling worked out for you. Thanks
Nathan Kemalyan says
I was a public school product, except for 3 years at a small liberal arts college after junior college. I have experienced both. By far, I received more personal attention and a greater sense of belonging in the private school. My son attended private school through 8th grade, then public high school. My personal impression is that he received more attention by a good measure in private school than public. He goes to the best high-school in the best district in our metro area, lots of parental support, booster-ism, high family standard of living school district, but all the same social issues present. My wife went to public school until she finished college in a private institution. We have all experienced both. One can thrive in either environment with good parenting, a healthy peer group, dedicated teachers. But, one also gets what one pays for; and public schools have less dollars per student than private, are constrained by many more factors than private schools with regards to educational freedom and rarely have the alumni support of private schools. I think its hard to generalize too much about the individual student’s experience, but if money were no issue, I’d still purchase the absolute best education I could afford for my child.
Financial Samurai says
It does seem like the biggest differentiating factor is parental support. Perhaps due to more wealth, more private school families can afford to have at least one stay at home parent to participate more in school activities. Oh and given you have to pay to go to private school, there’s more skin in the game and involvement.
I went to public school and was all for my kids going to public school. We live in an excellent public school district. My wife went to Catholic school and wanted the kids going to Catholic schools. Wife won and it has been a good experience but I was still on the fence. Then COVID hit and the public schools went to ineffective zoom calls while the Catholic schools stayed open. The learning gaps are real and won’t be closed. Glad we went Catholic.
Financial Samurai says
Same thing happened here in San Francisco. All the public schools still remain closed since March 2020. But the private schools went in person in the fall of 2020. I do believe the learning differential over the past 16 months has been massive and I worry about this if we go public.
I was public school from K-6. Private 7-12. Public for college. It was very interesting (never mind the dynamic of poor to lower middle class income parents the entire time and yet a rich grandfather.)
Part of it is age I suppose but K-6 was mostly good with the higher chance of bullies. And private 7-12 was overall good with the small percentage of entitled kids but I was never bullied. Back to public college and it was generally all over the map but not too much entitlement at the state school.
Being poor to lower middle class and fitting right in during K-6 was good. But I also never got garbage 7-12.
A very fake threat to break my legs happened in 5th or 6th grade but my goodness the guy was angry.
I liked public school for the diversity. Private was quite homogeneous.
I didn’t play softball but I have noticed that, on average, lower income folks have a higher chance of putting too much emphasis on a sporting outcome than higher income folks. That’s very generalized of course, but I’ve never really enjoyed the team sports since there’s always a few too many who take it too seriously.
Financial Samurai says
Taking recreational sports to seriously bums me out. Yes, there is always one or two guys just kill the fun out of things because They are so intense.
Although, when it comes to a softball or tennis tournament time, I like to take things seriously.
It feels like the recreational sport is their only outlet to get out their frustrations, or they’re only outlet to show they have above average abilities.
Jill DiLosa says
I went to private school until 8th grade then public high school then private college/grad school. My husband did the opposite — public school until high school, then elite northeast boarding school, then public college. One thing I like best about him — and that people often say about me too — is that he can get along with anyone. This is true from up and down the socioeconomic spectrum, US and International, all races and religions. He finds ways to connect. He’s a very empathetic person. He’s grounded. I believe these things to be true about myself too. And we have discussed that we believe it’s because we both had both public and private school experiences. We haven’t figured out to solve this for children yet — we just had a daughter who is 3 months old. On one hand, we want to give her the best education we can no matter what – and we can afford private schools. On the other hand we don’t want her to be so insulated that she becomes elitist/entitled etc.