While talking about public schools, also known as government schools or state schools, we usually mean free (local, federal or regional) schools that are under government control and paid from public taxation. Today, they remain the most popular type of school not only in the USA but also all over the world. They give free access to education for everyone regardless of religion, race or ability. And this is, probably, the main reason why the vast majority of families do send their children to public schools nowadays. The second reason is that public schools give much choice in curriculum and extra-curricular activities compared to private schools. Pupils are able to study arts and music. Besides, all the teachers are certified as educational instructors. Also, multiple sports programs play an important role in such schools. They help to improve physician conditions and prevent obesity among children. In addition, public schools educate different segments of the population and prepare many immigrants for living in the United States.
Despite all the positive points, there are many people that are less optimistic about public schools. They say that in recent years public schools have much discredited themselves. Many experts assert that the first and, probably, the main problem of modern public education is violence and constant drug use at schools. The National Center for Education Statistics states that in 2007, almost 23% of students brought guns to their schools (2010). About 32% complained for being bullied during the school years. There were also more than 29 violent crimes per 1000 students. The number of violent deaths is even more pessimistic. The center claims that during the past seven years, 116 students were killed; it is about 16,5 every year (pp. 1-2).
Drugs uses also remain one of the key issues primarily in public schools. The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (2010) states, “The largest percentage of teens says drugs are their top concern. Twenty-six percent cite tobacco, alcohol or other drugs as their top concern” (p.3). The same center indicates that the number of drug-infected schools is increasing very rapidly, “One in three middle school students say that drugs are used kept or sold at their school, an increase of 39% since the last 2009 year (32 percent vs. 23 percent)” (p. 10).
One more but no less important problem about public school is the quality of education and knowledge. According to the Reader’s Digest (2006), from 50% to 95% of American students have been cheating at one time or another (p. 123-7). Academic dishonesty is a constant trouble of all teachers. They say that most students use not only cribs but also plagiarism, fabrication, deception and bribery.
Though public education has some problems to solve as soon as possible, it has more advantages compared to private schools. First, in most cases, private schools are too expensive for most of families. Therefore, not so many parents can afford to pay high fees for their child, especially if a family has more than one. As a result, such schools become available mostly for the elite. Second, it is not necessary for teachers to have a teaching degree (the knowledge of a subject is required). But, in most cases, it is not enough. Every teacher must be a good psychologist, friend and have all necessary skills and abilities for teaching and working with students. Third, there are entrance exams that students have to pass in order to be admitted. It is unacceptable, because students with low knowledge but big potential won’t be accepted. Moreover, private schools propose less diverse choices in subjects as they have some focuses on religion or any other science. As a result, students cannot study curriculum they want, and, likely, have some abilities to. In addition, very often, parents are responsible for providing transportation.
Thus, on the one hand, studying in public school will cost less but, on the other hand, there will always be a danger of violence and drugs. By sending a child to a private religious school, parents may be more confident in the child’s safety but less in the diversity and the quality of knowledge. Besides, parents will have to pay extra fees for studying. Though public and private schools have many advantages and disadvantages, it is up to parents to decide what type of schools send their child to.