Good for Families
Private education benefits families by offering a wide range of educational options, including schools rooted in religious traditions, schools that provide intensive academic experiences, and schools that are specialized for specific populations. School choice, which should be every family’s right, enables parents to select an educational setting based on the needs of their children and their sense of what a school should be. (To find out about the range of educational options that private schools provide, see CAPE's list of types of private schools. For more information on school choice, read CAPE's issue paper on the topic.)
Parents of children in private schools are more satisfied with their schools than parents of children in public schools. Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 2007, a report released in April 2010 by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 70 percent or more of private school parents in 2007 were "very satisfied" with the schools their children attended, as well as with the teachers, academic standards, and discipline in those schools.
|Percentage of sudents in grades 3-12 with very satisfied parents by type of school (2007)|
|Parents very satisfied with...||Public
|Order and discipline||55||61||83||80|
High Marks from Parents
Parents and students generally give high marks to private schools. Public Agenda, a national research organization, released a report in November 1999 entitled On Thin Ice, which found that people who have private schools in their communities believe by wide margins that such schools "generally provide a better education" than public schools and do a better job "teaching academic skills" and "maintaining discipline and order."
Most studies of school choice for low-income families find that parents whose children attend private schools are much more satisfied with various elements of school life than parents of students in public schools. To illustrate this point, the following table compares the attitudes of two sets of low-income parents who applied for privately funded scholarships in Washington, DC: those whose children received the scholarships (as a result of a lottery drawing) and those whose children did not. The table reflects data in a 2000 report from Harvard University entitled School Choice in Washington, DC: An Evaluation After One Year.
|Percentage of parents in Washington, DC who were "very satisfied" with...|
|student respect for teachers||26||50|
|teacher respect for students||25||51|
|clarity of school goals||18||51|
|teamwork among school staff||18||49|
Find private schools in your neighborhood by using the NCES Private School Locator.