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

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This is a partial SWOT analysis of the Public School system in relation to Private Schools. Each system has their strengths and weaknesses.

A SWOT and Comparative Analysis of Private vs Public Education – Part 1 - (Strengths of the Public School Systems)

By Arthur H Tafero

Many people like to discuss the comparison of private schools to public schools. Generally speaking, private schools are cleaner and safer. But many public schools are also clean and safe. One of the primarily differences between the schools is the use of money. Public schools tend to spend more money on administrators, teachers, and union personnel. Private schools are not bound by unions. Sometimes, this is a good thing and at other times, it may be a flaw in the private school system. Private schools tend to spend their money on the physical plant of the school. Administrators and teachers are generally paid less than public school teachers. Private schools are almost always smaller, which means better student/teacher ratios. The physical plant of a private school is generally more attractive than some messy public schools. Let’s examine a SWOT of each of the systems to get a closer look at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths of the Public School System

A. Size - Most public school systems and districts in a county and state are large. The more populous the state, the larger the system of districts will be in that state. The closer proximity of a district to a large city, the larger the physical plant of the schools will be. While size is a strength of the public school system, it is also a primary cause for one of its weaknesses, but that will be covered in the weaknesses section. There are advantages to large –sized school districts and schools. They get lots of taxpayer money based on per-pupil usage. Size equal money from the state.

B. Standardized Benchmarks – Another advantage of the public school system is a uniform code of educational performance. These benchmarks are usually reflected in state-wide exams for leveling, such as the F-CAT test of Florida, in each of the main disciplines of English, Math, Science and Social Studies. Of course, these tests are public domain, and so they are always readily available to private schools as well, and are sometimes used within the curriculum of private schools. However, while passing these tests is a central focus of most public schools (because it is attached to state funding), private schools are free to just use the tests as indicators of leveling rather than as qualifiers for funding, so they can expand learning into other areas other than standardized testing.

C. Better Team Sports – Generally speaking, public schools, because they are larger and get more state funding, have a bigger and better selection of both team and school activities. This advantage, however, is quickly dissipated because of the large numbers of students within the school, who get no chance to participate unless they are particularly outstanding in some athletic area. The teams are better, but the participation percentages of the school populations is much lower than at private schools, where a larger percentage of the student body is encouraged to participate.

D. Convenience – Generally speaking, public schools are more conveniently located than private schools. The drives are shorter to the schools and in many cases, the students can either bike or walk to the schools. This can sometimes be a major factor for parents when considering whether to send a child to a public or private school.

E. Cost – Obviously, cost is another major factor favoring public schools over private schools. Poor families cannot generally afford to send their children to anywhere but a public school, although that situation is changing a bit with the new national voucher systems and private enterprise academies established at the end of the 20th century by most states. Middle-class parents have the option of both systems and generally make their choices based on a whole range of factors, including the five mentioned here. But if a parent’s goal is to save money, then the bottom line for them is to send the child to a public school.

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Arthur Tafero

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