Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Public School vs. Private School Safety

     There have recently been some incidents of violence in our area with children being the victim of a public school employee.  As an unabashed advocate for private school education, I posted on my own Facebook profile "So sad to hear about what happened at Forsyth school. I am a big advocate of homeschooling and private schools. There are so many benefits, not limited to much higher ACT/SAT score averages from private school students vs. public school."  People were quick to defend the public school system as being no more likely than a private school to experience violent crime.  
    I disagree.  Let's just use private colleges vs. state schools as a comparison.  Would anyone be offended if I suggested that a smaller, private college was safer for students and faculty than a larger, state university?  Probably not.  They'd say I was arguing the status quo.  But when I suggest that private elementary and high schools are safer than public schools the hair on the back of their neck raises.  
    Statistics show that not only do private school students routinely score higher on achievement tests, earn more scholarships, and gain entrance to exclusive colleges and universities, but students at private schools feel safer and the campuses actually have less crime than do public schools.  The three big reasons parents enroll their children in private school are usually come down to academics, safety, or religion.  This article will focus on the second reason, "safety."
    The National Center for Education Statistics is the resource for all statistics related to education, regardless of whether that education is public, private, or independent.  Their publication "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012" provides to the public statistics relating to crime in schools.  The document has 211 pages, but here is a quick summary of some of the statistics comparing private vs. public schools.  

National Center for Education Statistics Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012 Public Private
Students reported being victimized 4% 2%
Students reported gangs present in their school 19% 2%
Students reported theft 3% 1%
Teachers reported being threatened with injury 8% 3%
Teachers reported being physically attacked 4% 2%
Students reported being called a hate-related word 9% 7%
Students reported seeing hate-related graffiti 30% 13%
Students reported bullying 28% 21%
Students reported being afraid of attack or harm 4% 2%

    Our reasons for choosing private school did not fall under the category of safety, but I cannot dispute clear statistics.  Why do private schools have less crime?  Perhaps it is because private schools usually have fewer students than public schools, which makes it easier to supervise the school population.  Lower student-teacher ratios create greater accountability on campus.  In addition, if the mission statement of the school includes ministry - as would be the case with a Catholic or Christian private school - the staff is far more likely to exhibit a strong faith in their private life as well as professionally.
    As always, I urge parents to very carefully examine the goals of their children and give great consideration as to where their children are educated.
    Furthermore, do not allow tuition to be a barrier to your child receiving a private-school education.  There is tuition-free private school education available at School of the Ozarks in Hollister, Missouri.  Tuition assistance is available at several private schools in Springfield.  If you are interested in private school, talk with the admissions officer about what you can afford.  Most genuinely care about students and their families and want to help as much as possible.

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