One of the primary reasons for parents choosing to send their child to a private school is due to the many pre-conceived notions that private schools carry regarding their overall reputations. There are three main misconceptions that will be addressed here. These misconceptions are: the misconception of parental choice in selecting a school; more qualified teachers with the most current teaching knowledge; and the myth that private schools are more successful than public schools.
Many proponents of a nationwide standardized voucher program argue that such a system will provide parents and students with the opportunity to choose the school in which the child will attend. In fact, the opposite is true. Unlike public schools that are required by law to accept every child, private schools can choose who their students will be. Private schools do not need to accept the fifth grader who is autistic or the eighth grader reading at a third grade level. These factors simplify education and therefore further resources can be placed on the “norm” as opposed to students with disabilities. Indeed, in the voucher system, there is very little parental choice instead the choice is dependent on the private institution (Myth vs. Fact, 2002).
The misconception of parental choice can also correlate to the next misconception, which is that private schools are more successful than public schools. This idea is misleading as well. To date, there is no statistical data that shows private schools are achieving at a greater level than students in public schools. The reason for this can be several fold. First, we have the issue of accountability; second, we have the issue of the liberty of private schools to pick and choose their students; and third, private schools are not always required to take the same assessments as public school children to accurately compare the data of who is achieving at a higher level.
The final misconception of private schools is the qualification of the staff. In private schools, institutions not funded by the government, teachers are not required to have the same qualifications as their counterparts in the public system (The Voucher Threat, Fall 1998). Public school teachers, especially in Illinois, are expected to fulfill a certain amount of professional growth requirements for recertification. These requirements, such as CPDU’s, continued education, and fulfillment of a mentor program demand extra hours from public school teachers; however, holds the public school teacher to be accountable for his or her growth as an educator. These standards are not shared by private schools. How can teachers who are not required to continue their education be expected and trained to introduce their students to the most cutting edge teaching strategies that will help ensure optimal success for their students.
As mentioned above, by giving public dollars to private and religious schools the issue of accountability arises. Should...