After graduating from college, teachers often decide if they want to work at a public or private school. With more chances to give students individualized attention, more leeway to create outside-of-the-box lesson plans, and more parental support, private school teachers typically have plenty of freedom to teach in ways that engage and retain students. But there are pros and cons of teaching at a private school.
Advantages of Private Schools
Private school teachers experience many positives that support learning. Some of the benefits include the following.
Private schools often set enrollment limits, ensuring instructors teach smaller classes. Having a small class allows teachers to develop close relationships with their students. On average, the student-to-teacher ratio at private schools is 12:1 compared to 25:1 or higher at public schools, according to the Princeton Review. Teachers at private schools can offer individualized attention to each student when the student-teacher ratio is smaller.
Greater Freedom to Create Lesson Plans
Because they are mainly funded through tuition and donations rather than the government, private schools are not obligated to follow state-mandated testing, so instructors don’t have to “teach to the test.” Private school teachers can focus on the students’ learning as a whole rather than creating lessons focused on preparing students to pass standardized tests.
This means private school instructors have more freedom when creating their lesson plans, allowing them to implement more creativity and stray from the test-driven priority that is common in state-mandated curriculums at public schools.
Higher Level of Parental Involvement
Sending a child to a private school is an investment. Parents can spend between $2,000 to $32,000 a year on their child’s private schooling, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Since they are investing so much in their children’s education, parents’ overall involvement is often higher at private schools than at public schools, according to ThoughtCo.
Disadvantages of Teaching at a Private School
Teaching at private schools can have disadvantages as well. Consider the following.
Greater Expectations for Additional Duties
Private school administrators often require teachers to take on multiple roles at private schools, sometimes without additional pay, according to Bored Teachers. These extra duties can be supervising recess, lunch, or after-school programs. Taking over a coworker’s class at the last minute is another responsibility they may need to take on because private schools don’t have access to as many substitutes, according to Bored Teachers.
While being privately funded has many benefits, those perks often can come with less pay for private school teachers. In some private schools, instructors are paid hourly and don’t have a salary or yearly raises. On average, entry-level private school teachers make $29,940 a year compared to entry-level public school teachers who make $40,540, according to NCES.
Less Cultural Diversity Among Students
The cost of sending a child to private school often creates a barrier for low-income communities. Private schools are primarily attended by white students. NCES reported that 69 percent of private school students are white, while only 10 percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are Black, 6 percent are Asian, 1 percent are Pacific Islander, 0.5 percent are American Indian, and 4 percent are multiracial. Compared to public schools, the percentage of white students is 19 percent higher at private schools.
Greater Parental Authority
While having more parental involvement is a benefit for instructors and students alike, parents who are deeply involved also wield greater authority. Instead of following state mandates, private schools take parents’ goals into consideration when making decisions. Private schools consider parents to be clients, and each family wants a different outcome for their investment.
Some parents value open learning while others demand rigorous lesson plans. It’s up to the teacher to evaluate the school’s ethos and incorporate it into their curriculum.
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National Center for Education Statistics, Average Salaries for Full-Time teachers in Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools
National Center for Education Statistics, Private Elementary and Secondary Enrollment, Number of Schools, and Average Tuition, by School Level, Orientation, and Tuition
National Center for Education Statistics, Public and Private School Comparison
Private School Review, “Private School Jobs”
Teachaway, “How to Choose Between Teaching in a Public or Private School”