Why do people prefer private or public preschools? Here is some information on the pros and cons of private and public preschools for your child.

The High/Scope Perry Preschool study-- a research project that lasted forty years--reported in 2004 that low-income three- and four-year-olds who participated in a preschool program were more successful as 40-year-old adults than their peers who did not go to preschool. The adults who had attended preschool not only had higher earnings, but were also more likely to have a job. Additionally, as a group they had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have a high school degree.

Studies like this make preschool seem like a very good investment. But people still disagree over what type of preschool is best.

Pro Private Preschool

  • Research shows that private schools may be singularly well-equipped to diminish achievement gaps between children with different socio-economic status and race.
  • Since, according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2003 only 35% of public elementary schools provided a pre-kindergarten opportunity, private schools are necessary for children in those districts without a public program.
  • Some private preschools present a much more inviting campus than the comparable public preschool.
  • Your child may be less likely to spend time on the sidelines while teachers deal with behavioral issues in a private preschool.
  • Private preschools give parents the opportunity to have more input — because parents pay directly for the program, they have more say in how it is carried out. In public schools, parents can feel like outsiders in a world controlled by the principal, teachers, and the school board.
  • Public preschools may be attached to an elementary school, meaning that a young child's first experience may be among 1000 or more students. Many private preschools offer a child-sized first school experience.
  • Public preschools in K-8 buildings may mean that preschoolers ride buses and walk the halls with middle school students. This may present influences and experiences that parents would rather their very young children not have in terms of language, dress, and behavior.
  • Private schools offer choices of specialized education programs, such as a Montessori or Waldorf approach. There are also faith based private schools that can support the values that the family holds. Public preschools may have mandated curriculums and not allow for approaches that may be better suited for some students.

Pro Public Preschool

  • The cost of private preschool can be prohibitive. The cost of tuition alone can run $10,000-$12,000 a year or more. There may also be transportation costs.
  • Some private preschools offer tuition assistance, but middle-class working families may not qualify.
  • A shared and public education is one of the things that binds citizens of the United States together as a democracy. Private preschools and other private education opportunities divide our citizenry both in terms of what children experience and in terms of creating an elite class.
  • Any federally funded school has teacher certification requirements: teachers hired for private schools do not necessarily have the same legal requirements.
  • Private schools support the idea of families as consumers. Public schools support the idea of families as community.
  • A public preschool initiates a child into many aspects of the public school community.
  • If a child begins at a public preschool s/he will likely not have to make a transition to a new school in the following year.

Sources Used for This Article