Trying to be an informed parent can make you crazy. The contradictory information about food, schedules, immunizations, and education is really amazing.
Just last week, The Atlantic ran two articles about education via its blog – on the same day. The first was an interview with the authors of a new book that looks at the efficacy of the education to be had in public vs. private schools. The results of their studies indicate that despite the high price of private education, public schools do a better and more effective job educating, producing better results.
The authors’ research indicated “when controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools. It seems that private school students have higher scores because they come from more affluent backgrounds, not because the schools they attend are better educational institutions.
Okay … one illusion shattered. My perception was – and I don’t think I’m alone in having believed this – private schools provide a better education, leading to better opportunities. When my children were of an age to go to grade school, I struggled with this issue. There was a very small Catholic private school, K-8, in a neighboring town, and I could have attempted to meet the tuition and send them there. Could have, but ultimately did not.
The other article looked at a study on the free lunch program percentages in states across the country. As the essay author, Jordan Weissman, comments, “poverty is the giant backpack dragging down American students.” Almost half of all students in public education across the nation are low income. These statistics link back to the previous study, which called out the ‘raw materials’ that private and public schools take in as students.
As the debate about education continues, it is important to keep all of these pieces of research in your head. While no individual study is going to point us toward the most universally successful method of education for all students, each teaches us something.
Education, to me at least, is more and more like a puzzle to solve. We’ve got pieces all over the table, and there should be a way to arrange them into a picture that pleases everyone, but without a better idea of what the final puzzle should look like, assembly is a challenge indeed.