Private vs. Public
The debate between whether private schools are better than public schools is an important issue being discussed by theorists. Private schools cost a great deal more than public schools and provide the same education. Private schools are required to follow the same curriculum as public schools and the students are tested by the same ministry exams. Some private schools can cost up to fifteen thousand dollars whereas public schools generally do not cost anything at all. There is a significant financial gap between the two schools and a question asked by many is whether private schools are worth the cost. Do students learn more effectively if they are in an institution that charges more or can they get the same quality education in a free school? Private schools are supposed to provide better learning situations such as smaller class sizes and more individual time with the students. With the extra money the schools are able to provide smaller, more personal learning environments for the students, whereas in public schools, classes can be huge and there is a possibility of no personal time with the teacher. However, if a student cannot afford private school, they do not have the opportunity to get the so-called 'higher education' provided at these schools. Two philosophical educational schools that have an opinion on private vs. public are natural law and Marxism. Natural law advocates private schooling because it believes that everyone should have the right to choose their own education. Marxism focuses mostly on the class structure and depending on the class, wealth and power of an individual, determines their educational experience. The Marxists are against the idea that private schools are better than public. Natural law is pro and Marxism is con private schools as being viewed as a better education than public school.
It is hard to determine who gets a better education between students who go to private school verses students who go to public school. It is a general belief that the more money paid the better the education that is received because there are more facilities and better educational services provided. Private schools charge large amounts of money for students who will learn the same curriculum as students studying in the public sector. To compare students from the two schools fifteen years after they have graduated, more students from private schools achieve high paying and management jobs. There are many good reasons to send a student to a private school. With private financing, the schools are able to maintain a higher teacher-to-student ratio. There are fewer students attending the school and there are more teachers and support staff to help the students. Class sizes range from five to twenty students whereas in public schools class sizes can reach over 35 students. The smaller classroom sizes allow for a more personal and effective working space where students and teachers get to know each other better and can work more effectively. There is more one-on-one time with the students and teachers, which allows the student to get the individual help that is required. Not all students are at the same level and with fewer students to teach, the teacher can focus on one student at a time. Another advantage of smaller class sizes is that the students are able to bond with each other easier and can help each other if the teacher is unavailable or is with another student. Students should have their own choice as to which type of institution they study in. If they want to pay the required fees in order to get the private education, then natural law states that they have the right to do so. Natural law is defined by the oxford dictionary as "a group of unchanging moral principles regarded as in-born in humans and forming a basis for behavior." Private schools provide a certain service which does cost more but if a student believes that s/he will get a better education then it is their right to choose to go there. The fundamental foundation of natural law is that humans are designed to act in a certain way and that reason is one of the main characteristics of human nature that helps humans make their decisions. The philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, "identifies the rational nature of human beings as that which defines moral law: 'the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts'" (iep.utm.edu/n/natlaw). If a human believes that the act is rational then it must be correct but if the act is believed to be irrational then the act is wrong. Society has portrayed private schools as a better education than private and so the belief of many is that their children should go to private schools because it is the rational thing to do. It would be irrational to send their children to a public school because they have a reputation for not providing as good an education as private schools do. All individuals are different and that is why there is a debate between which institution provides a better education. Humans must act according to their nature and their instinct, but as everyone differs, some will believe public to be better and some will believe private to be better. There are a lot of services that private schools can provide because of the extra funds which appeal to people's interest. Many believe that the more money it cost the better school it is because there is more money going into the school. Natural law's argument in this is that there should be private schools because every individual has the right to choose what kind of education they get. It is every human's basic right to be able to have a choice in life and if a person wants to pay more for an education in order to get a smaller more personalized education then it is their right to do so. When paying for a private school the individual isn't paying to get a better education, they are merely paying to get the education in a different way. Instead of in a crowded classroom they are learning in a smaller, safer environment. Human reason tells individuals to do what is best for them, to do what will give them the most out of the situations. To remove private schools and disregard them would go against natural law because it would be denying individuals the right to make a rational decision.
Conversely, it is possible that public schools provide the same quality of education as private schools. Both types of schools must follow the same curriculum and so the students are required to learn the same things. There is no reason why a student in public school cannot get an equal education to that of a student coming out of private school. The teachers are not necessarily better in a private school as opposed to a public school. Private schools and their reputations for smaller classroom sizes are appealing but public schools are just as able to provide the help required buy students. Teachers are not the only resources available to help students in need. Public schools have peer tutoring programs where students help students or there are usually study rooms where there is a teacher on duty to answer questions. Many argue that students that pay for private school educations get into better universities and succeed more. However, it is possible that the students are paying for a better image, not necessarily a better education. They are paying for the image that says that private schools turn out better students. There is an unfair advantage to students who go to private school because compared to a student that went to public they are usually viewed as having received a better education. It is unfair that because a student can pay large sums of money to attend a private school that they should be given the advantage over all other students. Just because a student cannot afford to pay to attend a private school does not mean that they do not have to potential to learn and achieve just as well. This system of school segregation is similar to the segregation of social class structure from the past. In the past, only wealthy families would be afforded an education because of their social standings. The poor were forced to learn what they could from books or from any sources they could get their hands on. Richer families could afford to pay a tutor to come and provide extra instruction for their child. "In the 1970's, critical theorists in education wrote about something called 'correspondence theory.' They believed that the structures of schooling and classroom discourse correspond directly to the class structures of society and that this correspondence explains how the school 'reproduces' the society's class structure" (Noddings, 74). Students who are wealthy enough to pay for a good education usually go on to have good high paying jobs. It is harder for a person of lower wealth, who has to go through the public system, to advance in society as well or as quickly as a student who is privileged. Today the similar structure exists that if an individual has enough money, they can buy a good education by going to a private school. This is viewed by Marxists as being unequal. Marxists believe in equality for all and that all students should have an equal opportunity for an equal education. Marxism discusses class structure and the division society sometimes has because of it. However they fight for an equal society where there is no social class division. The Marxist view of private education and public education is that there should be no distinction between the two. Whatever the students receive in private schools should also be offered in all public schools. Marxist equality means that a student should not be awarded better learning environments just because they are rich and can afford to pay the fees. Critical theorists believe that "restricting the access to liberal education is a powerful means of maintaining the privilege of the controlling classes. Many theorists today insist that all children should have access to what we usually call the 'college preparatory' curriculum" (75). Students who attend a private school may also be taught that being wealthy affords one a better life. Having money can pay for a better education. Being in a school with other rich students does not teach them about equality but rather that they can buy their way to the top.
Marxist view towards education is a very strong argument. I don't believe that there should be a distinction between privates and public. Equality in the school system will help lead society into an equality mentality. As the Marxists points out, how we are taught in school shapes who we will be in the future. If we are taught in school about equality then when we leave we will take what we learned with us. I strongly disagree that just because a family is wealthy enough to pay their children's education and send them to a private school, that they should be given a different education. Or not even a different education but a different environment in which the students learn. I believe that every student deserves one-on-one time with a teacher and extra help when needed not only students who can afford to pay high school fees. All students should be able to study in a safe and secure institution; just because an individual has more money doesn't mean that they deserve better safety. Yes, students should be awarded the opportunity to choose their school but the choice shouldn't be between private and public. It should be a choice between French or English or a religious school verses a non religious school. These distinctions between schools do, in a way, separate the students but they do not separate the quality of learning. All students should have an equal opportunity to get the same marks which will let them go one to university. It is not fair when private schools marks considered as a greater achievement than public school marks. Factors that divide private from public are school size and class size, special programs, cost and location. There is no reason that public schools cannot have the same resources as a private school. Public schools are funded by the government and thus only get so much funding but if there were no private schools, than all the money going into them could be put into the public sector making it equal for all. Private schools take away a form of funding that could be valuable to the public school. There still would be no fees for students, however families who could afford to donate funds towards bettering the school could. This way the families who cannot afford to send their children to a private school would be able to share the same facilities and programs. Also it would teach students the valuable lesson of equality and that every student is equal no matter who they are. As long as there is a division between educational structures there will continue to be a division in class social structures.
It is a hard to know whether there should be private schools or if there should only be public schools. The arguments for both sides are strong. Natural law argue that individuals have the right to free choice and have the right to chose to go to private schools. Their natural right is to be given the opportunity to choose what they want as an education. If they believe that they deserve a higher education than another individual than it is their right to attempt it. Where as Marxism on the other side argues for equality. Marxists believe that private schools separate society into social classes and divides society like it has in the past with the working class and the elite. Marxists believe that all students should be equal and have an equal chance at an equal education.