CAPE | Council for American Private Education

Council for American Private Education

Benefits of Private Education

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America’s first schools were private schools. Its first leaders were taught in private schools, whose goal was to graduate a student capable of making a positive contribution to society. Today, private schools gladly join their newer counterpart—public schools—in creating an educational system that is the envy of the world and the hope for our continued freedom.

In a 1999-2000 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number one goal of private schools was academic excellence [1]. Thanks to committed parents, motivated students and limited distractions, private schools are free to focus on quality education for the more than six million children they enroll.

More than 350 years after John Milton claimed that truth emerges from "the marketplace of ideas," the rich diversity of private schools is a staple in the marketplace of American education, and the nation is stronger for it.

Our common motto is simple: Private education is good for students, good for families, and good for America.

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Good for Students

In a June 2002 report, NCES found that private schools had students who scored higher on standardized tests, had more demanding graduation requirements, and sent more graduates to college than public schools. The report said that students who had completed at least the eighth grade in a private school were twice as likely as other students to graduate from college as a young adult. NCES statistics also showed that students in private schools are much more likely than others to take advanced-level high school courses. [2]

Students thrive when allowed to learn in a safe and supportive environment. Joint reports by the NCES and the Bureau of Justice Statistics [3] ,and a private study by the Horatio Alger Association [4] have found that private school students are significantly more likely than others to feel safe and be safe in their schools.

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Good for Families

Choosing a school for their children is one of the most important decisions parents must make. Whether they move into a school district, apply to a private school, or adjust family duties to make home schooling possible, most families want school choice.

For the parents of more than six million children, the choice is private education. They choose a private education for many reasons, with quality academics, a safe and orderly environment, and moral and ethical values the common reasons cited.

And choice makes them satisfied consumers. The NCES reports that more than three-quarters of private school parents are "very satisfied"with their child’s school compared with less than half of parents whose children were assigned to a public school [5].

Parents often look to private schools as an extension of the home in promoting the values they embrace, and private schools respond. A recent NCES survey found that promoting religious/spiritual life was second only to academic excellence in the goals of private school principals [6].

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Good for America

Nothing in a democracy is more important than the education of the next generation of its citizens. In standardized tests designed to measure how well American youth are prepared to meet their citizenship responsibilities, students in private schools score higher than their public school counterparts [7].

Gaps between minority students and majority students are narrowed in private schools. According to NCES, minority students in private schools are more than twice as likely to enter four-year colleges than their counterparts in public schools, making private schools the nation’s greatest hope for boosting minority participation in society from boardroom to classroom [8].

The public applauds the accomplishments of private education. Public Agenda, a national research organization, found that adults believed, by a wide margin, that private schools do a better job of providing aquality education than public schools [9]. That’s why we say, Private education promotes the public good.

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Fast Facts About Private Schools

Did you know that in America:

  • One in four schools is a private school [10];
  • One child in ten attends a private school [11];
  • Private schools produce an annual savings to taxpayers estimated at $50 billion [12];
  • Private school students perform better than their public school counterparts on standardized achievement tests [13];
  • Sixty-seven percent of private high school graduates attend four-year colleges, compared to 40 percent of public high school graduates [14];
  • Private school students from low socio-economic backgrounds are more than three times more likely than comparable public school students to attain a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s [15], meaning that private schools contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty for their students;
  • Private schools are racially, ethnically, and economically diverse. Twenty-seven percent of private school students are students of color [16]; 27 percent are from families with annual incomes under $75,000 (another 18 percent of families did not report income) [17];
  • Private secondary school students are nearly 50 percent more likely to take AP or IB courses in science and math than public school students [18];
  • The participation of private school students in community service projects is significantly higher than their public school counterparts [19].

The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) is the primary advocate for American private K-12 education. Based in Washington, D.C., with organizations in most states, CAPE strengthens the nation’s educational system by working with parents, educators, and legislators to preserve educational pluralism and ensure that parents have a choice in the schooling of their children.

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Sources:

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Notes:

  1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Private Schools: A Brief Portrait (NCES 2002-013) (Washington, D.C., 2002) figure 7.
  2. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Private Schools: A Brief Portrait (NCES 2002-013) (Washington, D.C., 2002) tables 11 and 12, figures 9 and 10.
  3. U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2003 (NCES 2004-004) (Washington, D.C.,2003) tables 3.1, 6.1, 12.1, 13.1, 14.1, 15.1.
  4. Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, The State of Our Nation’s Youth: 2000-2001 (Alexandria, VA, 2001) p. 8.
  5. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 1999 (NCES 2001-003) (Washington,D.C., 2003) table 3.
  6. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Private Schools: A Brief Portrait (NCES 2002-013) (Washington, D.C., 2002) figure 7.
  7. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The NAEP 1998 Civics Report Card for the Nation (NCES 2000-457) (Washington,D.C., 1999) pp. 63-64.
  8. College-going rates were provided to CAPE by the National Center for Education Statistics using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88). Details are available in the September 2001 issue of CAPE Outlook
  9. Public Agenda, OnThin Ice (New York, NY, 1999) p. 29.
  10. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2011, table 5.
  11. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2020, table 1.
  12. This figure was calculated by multiplying the average national public school per-pupil expenditure ($10,615) for 2010 by the number of students in private K-12 schools (4,700,119). Data tables for per-pupil expenditures in 2010 are available from the U.S. Census Bureau's Public Education Finances: 2010, table 8. Enrollment data are available in the NCES publication Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 2009-10 Private School Universe Survey, table 14.
  13. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Results of the Natonal Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
  14. U.S. Department of Education, National Centerfor Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2011, table 211.
  15. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Private Schools: A Brief Portrait, table 13.
  16. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 2009-10 Private School Universe Survey, table 9.
  17. U.S. Census Bureau, School Enrollment Data from CPS, October 2010, table 8.
  18. AP and IB science and math course rates for private and public schools were calculated by NCES staff for CAPE using data from the following source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Transcript Study (HSTS) 2000 (Washington, D.C., 2004).
  19. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Service-Learning and Community Service Among 6th- through 12th Grade Students in the United States: 1996 and 1999 (NCES 2000-028) (Washington, D.C., 1999), table 2.

 

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