When I attended school as a young kid, there only seemed to be one path to education, public school. Today, parents have many different options from which to select; public, private, charter and home schooling. Each one comes with its own unique pros/cons. A constant theme among each selection is the cost to consider.
One cost for attending a highly rated public school is often the higher cost of buying a home in that area. I live in southern California, and one of the most coveted school districts is Irvine Unified. This is because the schools in this district are highly rated and students here have high academic proficiency in both reading and math. The average home price in this school district can be up to 31%¹ higher than homes in a lower rated school district with lower rates of student proficiency. As a parent, this is a tough trade off. Of course you want to provide your children with the best education possible, but the cost of doing so might be out of your reach.
Private schools can provide a solution for parents that may not have the best public schools in their area. But there are challenges to making this educational choice, as well. Non-secular private schools have a religious affiliation and are generally less expensive than secular private schools that don’t offer a religious perspective. A Catholic school on average costs $3,700 for elementary and $8,200 for high school. For a private day school a parent will need to spend on average $19,100, and if the parent wants the child to go to a boarding school the average cost is $45,400². Not to mention that private schools are not required to take every student, which means you and your children can be subjected to an extensive selection process that may actually end in rejection.
Recently, Charter schools have come to popularity, because in some ways they bridge the gap between private and public schools. Between school years 2003–04 and 2013–14, the percentage of all public schools that were public charter schools increased from 3.1 to 6.6 percent, and the total number of public charter schools increased from 3,000 to 6,500³. Each charter is provided public funding so like public school the child enters free of charge and each Charter has to comply with federally mandated standards. If a Charter doesn’t comply with its charter document it can be subject to closure. Charters, just like Private Schools, have an admissions process and the best ones can have long wait lists.
Finally, some parents are choosing to homeschool their children. This is done for a wide variety of reasons, and these reasons are as varied as family dynamics. However, some of choose to homeschool because it is another solution to balance affordability with educational quality.
No matter which option is selected; education for a child is an expensive proposition. Parents are often tempted to sacrifice their own long-term savings needs for the cost of an education. However, it is important to keep in mind that your own ability or inability to provide for yourself in your later years will also impact your children. So this factor needs to be a part of the overall decision.
In order to best serve my 9 and 12 year old, we selected the public education of the Tustin Unified School District. So, far for us, the choice has been very positive.
Greatschools.org is a great resource to begin your search but primarily bases its research off of test scores as the key factor. If you want to delve even further into a school – a fantastic website is k12niche.com. As a K-12 parent one item I hear every day is the lack of school funding to reward those talented staff members that go above and beyond for our kids. Another website to visit that allows you to provide recognition to a deserving K-12 staff is Life Changer of the Year –https://lifechangeroftheyear.com. Here, you can nominate individuals that work in the k-12 environment for national recognition, and nominees also have a chance to win the top prize of $10,000.
¹Zillow pricing comparison in high and low proficiency school districts, retrieved October, 2016
²Great Schools Organization Website article Public vs Private vs. Charter Schools, May 2016
³ NCES Website https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=30, retrieved October 2016