Yet independent schools provide education at a fraction of the cost
Low-income parents who send their children to inexpensive independent schools say their children do better academically and have less “social problems” than children who attend public schools, according to a new survey and study.
Published by the Fraser Institute, Low Incomes, High Standards, Can private schools make a difference for low income families? asked low income parents with children at inexpensive independent schools about their satisfaction levels and experiences compared to public schools.
“We were astounded to see that small independent schools make such a difference for disadvantaged children, particularly considering that these schools cost, on average, 45 per cent less than public schools,” said Claudia Hepburn, the study’s co-author and Fraser Institute director of education studies, in a news release.
Families who participated in the survey were selected from applicants for a Children First: School Choice Trust grant to send their children to an Ontario independent school.
Participants fell into three groups: families who received a grant, families who did not receive a grant and send their children to an independent school, and families who did not receive a grant and send their child to a public school.
According to the Fraser Institute, the Children First recipients average tuition cost is $4,398 for independent education. In Ontario, to send a child to a public school the cost is more than $8,000.
“The survey results strongly show that parents of limited income who make the sacrifice to send their children to independent schools, whether or not they do so through a Children First grant, are much more satisfied with the academic and social environment of their children’s school than the parents whose children attend public schools,” said Hepburn.
Families surveyed who send their children to independent schools reported higher levels of academic quality compared to families who send their children to public schools. The majority of families (69 per cent of families who received a grant, 73 per cent of families who did not receive a grant) who send their children to an independent school graded their schools at an “A.” The parents who send their children to public schools gave lower grades, with 44 per cent “B” and 30 per cent as a “C.”
Parents who send their children to independent schools saw more improvement in their children’s academic performance compared to those who attend public schools.
The groups all reported experiencing bullying as the largest social issue. Parents whose children attend public schools reported higher problems with bullying.
“The parents surveyed reported lower incidences of bullying, fighting, drug use, and racism in inexpensive private schools compared to public schools,” said Hepburn.
To read the study, download the free PDF at www.fraserinstitute.org.