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A Partial SWOT Analysis of Public and Private Education - Strengths and Weaknesses of the Private School System

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This is an overview article on the strengths and weaknesses of the Private School System. These strengths and weaknesses should be contrasted with the Public School System for analysis of new possible initiatives.

Strengths of the Private School System

A. Smaller physical plants are easier to maintain and clean. Generally speaking a private school will be cleaner and easier to maintain than a public school. A cleaner environment gives both teachers and students the feeling that they are in an academic environment conducive to teaching and learning rather than just as a social gathering place, as many public schools have become.

B. Private schools are often safer that most public schools. This is primarily due to the smaller physical plant and lower student populations. When these two elements are present, it is easier for teachers and administrators to keep an eye on student movement and activities. This also translates to greater parental control.

C. Better teacher/student ratios are available in private schools. This is one of the most important strengths of private schools when selling themselves to parents. There are few substitutes for teacher/student ratios that provide a better chance for your child to learn. Student/Teacher ratios are also better for teachers and leave them with more energy to teach to students individually.

D. Private schools better prepare your child for better colleges and universities. The curricula at private schools are almost always geared for college admissions and college-level work. Your child will be better prepared to meet the challenges and requirements of a good college if they have a private school background.

E. More activity in extra-curricular situations is a benefit of private schools. Your child will learn and participate in diverse activities outside of the classroom with participation in computer labs, sports activities, social events and school-related clubs. Whereas in public schools, they are often left to their own devices.

Weaknesses of the Private School System

A. Cost is a major consideration of Private School Education. Often, the cost of the private school is well beyond the budget of the average parent, especially if there is more than one child in the family.

B. Convenience is another factor. Sometimes private schools require that you drop off and pick up your child. This can be a major inconvenience for some parents. Also private schools tend to be further away from the homes of the average student than public schools which are normally closer.

C. Weaker organized sports teams are germane to private schools. Based on numbers alone, a private can very seldom compete with a big public school. Consequently, the sports teams at private schools are there more for social reasons than for serious athletic competition. This would only affect a very small percentage of students who might be gifted athletes as well. They can have just as much fun playing basketball for Princeton or Columbia and they probably wouldn’t be making the pro teams, anyway.

D. There is sometimes a lack of benchmarks at a private school. Sometimes students at a private school do not know exactly what is expected from them. They may have higher or lower standards for success in relation to public schools, but in general, the benchmarks for private school are usually higher.

E. Private schools are small and there is nowhere to hide. Everyone knows everyone else’s business in a private school. There is practically no privacy at all in most of them because of their size. In public schools, you do not have to worry about everyone knowing your personal business because you are constantly moving around from class to class and large section of building to large section of building. If you like anonymity, then public schools are preferable. Be prepared to be scrutinized in private schools.

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Arthur Tafero
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Posted on Feb 1, 2013

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Arthur Tafero

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