Monday, June 27, 2005

To give your kid the edge, send him to a public school

The Dallas News reports on a study that explains away higher achievement in private schools. Indeed, the report provides evidence that most students are more likely to do better in a public school than they would in a private school.
When NAEP scores are reported, they always show private-school students outperforming their peers in public school. It's been a consistent finding for decades. But the Lubienskis were curious. Is that because private schools are really better? Or is it just because they generally enroll wealthier, better-prepared students? So they ... compared how public and private schools fared when ... socioeconomic factors were stripped away. They found that, at all class levels, public schools had a small but consistent edge over privates. Their suspicions were supported by the numbers: The reason private schools look better on paper is because they serve more middle- and upper-class kids. Or, to be even plainer: Poor kids in public schools did better than poor kids in private schools. Middle-class kids in public schools did better than middle-class kids in private schools. And rich kids in public schools did better than rich kids in private schools.
Public education is important. (So, of course, is being rich.)


  1. Fascinating. Brown, for graduate school, is actually my first time studying at a private school; all public schools before that. And I recall them being pretty decent.

  2. I haven't any comments on public schools vs private since I graduated from high school in 1944 and things have changed! However, since you have had such a fine education, how, and on what criteria, do you rate yourself? Grandma

  3. I went to public schools until college, and I consider myself to have gotten a perfectly good education. I'm also from an upper-middle-class family.

  4. My family was pretty poor before I went to college. I went to a public school through fifth grade, then a private Christian school that was academically mediocre, and then an elite private school for high school. The last was a far better education than I could have gotten from the public high school in my town, which wasn't bad but was simply nowhere near as good as the private school I went to. I learned much more. I suspect that it's schools like the middle school I went to that are pulling it down, because there's no way the typical public school is better than the typical private school. It's just that there are all these very small and not very well funded schools that don't cost anywhere near as much (and thus the economic/class factor) that hire teachers who don't have certification, and those skew the data. In my school, the only people there from lower income backgrounds were the best students. The rich kids didn't tend to do as well.