Approximately 10 percent of students – or about 5 million children in the United States – are enrolled in private institutions or home-schooled. For years, it was believed that smaller, more intimate classes led to a better education. But while that still seems to hold true for standardized tests, a recent study by the University of Virginia found no evidence of a significant difference, at least among lower-income families.
After the shift to remote schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, all students in America got a taste of remote learning.
The lack of interaction left many teenagers feeling lonely and suffering from differing forms of mental health issues. Additional studies have shown that adolescent education and educational attainment affects health in adulthood, directly affecting obesity, mortality, and even smoking habits.
Socialization and Friendship
Kenneth Kilpatrick, CEO of Sylvia Marketing and Public Relations, is a communications consultant for public and private school administrators. He had this to say about the socialization benefit of public schools. “A public school is an excellent place for your child to develop friendships and essential social skills, including cultural appreciation and respect, as they work and play with other children from various beliefs, backgrounds, and ethnicities.”
These social interactions allow students to learn from one another. Cultures, emotions, socioeconomic diversity, and other aspects of students' lives can be explored, respected, and accepted. Students learn tolerance, patience, and the ability to ‘walk a mile in someone else's shoes.'
These lessons aren't necessarily curriculum based but are no less important and help students become thoughtful, caring adults who can see someone else's perspective and appreciate that difference in opinion.
Special Needs Accommodations
For any parent of a special needs child, gaining access to education services can seem like an uphill battle. Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Special Education Act (IDEA), public schools must provide an adequate education for each student. This act ensures that public schools must provide an education for every student based on a student's ability to learn.
As Jenn Farmer, a mother to special needs children and founder of IEPMommy, points out, “Public schools are required to evaluate their children pursuant to their request or school teachers or administrators staff believe that children may have learning disabilities and special needs.”
These services are paramount to providing students with disabilities and special needs the education strategies and accommodations they need to be successful.
It should be noted that private schools are also held to this standard, and if home-schooled, students with disabilities are likely to be even more accommodated by their own parents.
One advantage of public school education is access to modern technology, especially for low-income students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators provided public school children with tablets and other technologies to accommodate their remote learning experiences. This provision allowed them to continue with their specialized IEP plans and assessments in a remote setting.
Katelyn Rigg of Literacy Learn says this about technology in public schools. “Public schools utilize the most up-to-date technology to make teaching and learning engaging and accessible. We saw this specifically during Covid when access to technology was integral to education. Our IT team made sure every student had access to a computer and even installed hotspots in homes where children didn't have access to wifi.”
This public school benefit allowed school-aged children nationwide to keep up with coursework, making it easier to transition back to a classroom setting.
If there is one ‘non-studious' aspect to the benefits of public schools, it is undoubtedly their list of extracurricular activities. From sports to clubs, these experiences offer the ability for students to build a well-rounded education. Interacting with their peers in many different settings helps students grow in awareness, acceptance, and respect for different perspectives and cultures.
Scott Winstead, the founder of My eLearning World, was sincere about his take on extracurricular activities in the public school setting. “Public schools offer extracurricular activities that can supplement the academic curriculum. These activities can help students develop leadership skills, learn about teamwork, and explore their interests outside of the classroom. As a result, public schools provide an education that is not only academically rigorous but also beneficial in other ways.”
There is no doubt that extracurricular activities allow students to try new things and expand their skill sets and education in general when it comes to public education. In the case of pros and cons, the benefits of public schools, especially for low-income students, are undeniable.
These benefits are ones students will carry throughout their adult lives, using them in new and diverse ways.
So, if you're a teacher, assistant, counselor, principal, coach, or school administrator, thank you for putting in the hours it takes to ensure children have access to an education they may lack otherwise. There may indeed be some fixes that need to happen in the public school system overall, but the benefits are apparent.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.