You are going back and forth on whether to enroll your child in either a private or public school. The factors of costs, quality education, location, and personalized attention weigh in heavily as you determine the best fit for your child. The following facts and some statistics about Fairmont’s own program will help you make the big decision.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, private schools have stricter graduation requirements and their students score higher on standardized tests. Because of these higher standards, graduating students are more prepared for college courses and the job market. As students struggle to be college and career ready (U.S. News reports only about a third of U.S. high school seniors are prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading) this is of dire importance. In 2012, the Council for American Private Education reported that 83 percent of private school (religious or independent school) graduates who took the ACT, met or exceeded the test’s college readiness benchmark score in English compared to 64 percent of public school graduates.
Small Class Sizes and Individualized Education
Private schools generally have much smaller class sizes compared to their public school counterparts. With a smaller teacher to student ratio, students benefit from more one on one time with the teacher and are given extra assistance if needed.
With insights into both worlds of private and public schools, Carole Calabria, 37 year Fairmont teacher and campus director found that private school students were allowed to move at their own pace compared to public school students.
“Students have the ability to work at their level,” Calabria said. “Opportunities for academic advancement are always available.”
At Fairmont, students are able to advance as needed and extra help is always available to students who need more time on a subject or unit.
Current Fairmont parent, Justine Burgess and her family saw this first hand when researching schools for their child.
“Once our son reached kindergarten age, we weighed options,” Burgess said. “We live right across the street from a great public school. It is a magnet school and offers the GATE program beginning in 3rd grade. We registered our son and after an assessment, the principal said he was ‘clearly accelerated’ and he would be attending the accelerated kindergarten program.”
They found that though the program was accelerated, their son had already surpassed the curriculum and there wasn’t the degree of freedom to work at one’s own pace that he would need. They enrolled at Fairmont instead.
“He is now in 3rd grade and absolutely thriving,” Burgess said. “The varieties of classes and accelerated academics have been perfect for him. He has art, music¸ Spanish, P.E., and science classes, and the individualized math and reading through Renaissance have allowed him to work at his own pace.”
Only the Best Teachers
While public school teachers have the safety net of tenure, that is not a requirement at private schools. Tenure is currently in place in 46 states (including California). It was created to protect public school teachers from unfairly losing their jobs, but has led to unintended consequences that can negatively affect a child’s education.
Depending on your state, teachers are eligible for tenure after three to five years of teaching. Once on tenure, it becomes very difficult to let teachers go, even if they are underperforming. If you’ve attended public school, you can probably think of a few teachers who struggled to communicate lessons effectively, to keep order in their classroom, or seemed indifferent to their work. You can probably also think of at least one school year or course that left you feeling as if you’d learned nothing due to poor teaching. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid that for your child?
Private schools are not required to provide tenure and without it, can keep teachers more accountable. At Fairmont Private Schools, for example, teachers are held to high standards for their entire career at Fairmont (rather than just the first few before tenure kicks in), in order to assure the best education possible for its students.
Private School is Dependent On Your Child’s Success
Unlike a public school, that is not directly accountable to you, a private school depends on you.
“The incentive for excellence for private school is enormous as the private school’s life depends on it,” Calabria said. “Public school gets students based on where they live. There is no market incentive. That is not to say that public schools don’t have wonderful teachers and administrators. It’s just that students have to attend regardless.”
Private School Advantage
Private schools have an advantage over public due to advanced curriculum, individualized attention, and dependency on their students’ success. In fact, that’s why Fairmont was originally founded. Fairmont Private Schools opened its doors in the ’50s after founder and former public school teacher Kenneth Holt took action upon seeing that changes in the public school system were diminishing students’ educations. It was founded to provide a solution and still to this day works diligently to provide the best education possible to its students. When comparing Fairmont Private Schools and public, the choice is clear.
Please call (714) 234-2771 for more information and to have your private school questions answered by our staff. We look forward to your call!