Besides having more money, stringent entrance exams and sometimes excluding children with special needs, which seems to come up in every single conversation about this topic, there are three major reasons why private schools are better: And they wouldn’t cost a lot to implement in public schools.
1. Code of Conduct: Private Schools almost always insist on a “Code of Conduct” – Children have to promise to behave, to do their homework, to respect teachers, fellow students and the environment they are in. Of course, it is much easier to teach if the students are actually behaving with discipline and the discipline is enforced. Now you are perhaps thinking – public schools could not do this! But I just got a notice home about my child riding on the public school bus and I had to sign a two-page “Code of Bus Conduct”, so it is possible.
2. Parent Volunteering is Mandatory: Private Schools almost always insist that parents have to volunteer in some way. And not just to raise the funds that the provincial government has taken out of the education budget. Parents volunteer in the classroom, with field trips, special projects and donate their time and skills to make the school a better place. They are considered true partners to education. In public schools whether parents are allowed in the classroom is up to the discretion of teachers and the principal and is often a “hit or miss” situation.
3. Parent Board – Private schools have a board of parents who also do more than just fundraise (like the PAC’s). They are also considered important and valid. Just like in Ontario, where they have developed a parent engagement policy:
“The Ministry of Education, District School Boards and schools benefit not only from the important work parents do to help their children succeed in school, but also by ensuring that parent perspectives are heard and considered in developing policies and programs at the provincial, regional and local levels.”
This policy also points out that:
There is a direct connection between parent engagement and:
• Improved academic achievement
• More positive attitudes about school
• More success with homework
• Higher rates of high school graduation
• More consistent school attendance
• Fewer behaviour problems
• A brighter future for students at school and later in life
In British Columbia, it seems that public schools just want the parents to fundraise and then to keep out of everything else, in spite of what their policies officially say.
This is why public support for private schools, independent schools, charter schools and homeschooling programs continue to grow. Parental choice will soon become mandatory.
Instead of traditional learning and parental support, public schools seem to trying to encourage politics, progressive rapid-fire changes and more focus on learning that involves no report cards, core courses or accountability. This is nothing directly to do with money or fundraising, but clashing world views and clashing ideologies. More tax payers dollars will not help. Private schools are better because they haven’t forgotten one of the major stakeholders – parents.