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Private School Myths

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009-2010 private schools accounted for 25 percent of the nation’s schools and enrolled 10 percent of the nation’s school-age children. Myths about these instituions abound, most probably because only about 10 percent of children have direct experience with these schools. Consider the truth about these top 5 private school myths:

Many people have ideas about how a private school works. Here is a list of the most common private school myths.

Myth #5: Students must wear uniforms, and faculty must wear academic robes
While some religiously-affiliated schools do have uniforms, most institutions simply have a dress code, established rules about what students can wear during certain events. The same is true for faculty. While schools modeled after traditional English public schools, such as Eton, still require faculty to don a robe for instruction, most have a professional dress code for faculty members.

Myth #4: Private schools are expensive
As with so many expenditures in today’s economy, the term “expensive” is relative. When comparing the cost of educating a student in the public system versus a private institution, many consider private education to be the more cost-efficient choice since they typically spend less per student that the public school system. Since private systems do not receive any local or state funding, private education is funded strictly through tuition and donations. Most schools do have financial aid programs to make private education feasible for families with qualified students who could not otherwise afford this opportunity.

Myth #3: They are exclusive
Many believe that private institutions are only for the elite, the religious, or the gifted. Although there are some religious schools who ask students and families to sign a profession of faith and to promise to adhere to specific rituals, most schools do not. Some schools began as religious schools but now have open-door admission policies.

Likewise, the halls of many private institutions were filled with the offspring of the financial elite during the first half of the twentieth century, but now most are modeling cultural diversity with growing numbers of working-class children participating.

As for those who are labeled “gifted,” most students attend private school because they want to learn and have therefore the potential to be good students. The halls of private institutions are not necessarily packed with geniuses but rather with motivated learners.

Myth #2: They are unregulated
Although private centers of learning do not receive local and state funding, they do have to comply with established regulations regarding minimum hours and contact time. They must also comply with zoning laws and file tax returns with the IRS. Most established private institutions are also nationally accredited.

Myth #1: They are better than public schools
With 25 percent of schools in the United States being private and only 10 percent of school-aged children attending them, it is no wonder that the most glaring difference between private and public schools is class size. Smaller class sizes do not ensure success; however, classes in private institutions tend to have fewer students per teacher, and therefore individual students will get more personal attention. This is one of the most common reasons parents choose private schools for their children.

This article was written on behalf of Hudson College, A leading private school in Toronto.

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