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Private Education in America Research Paper


Though education is considered a public good by policy maker, its consumption can be privatized just like most public goods depending on the setting and consumption behavior of an individual. Reflectively, an individual can be in a position to make decisions whether to consume it or not. The purpose of any education system in a country is to serve both public and private interests.

In addressing the interests of the public, education system prepares the young to be in a position to assume the roles of adults and promote the civil responsibility, uphold common set of political and economic values, and be in a position to share on common language acquired.

On the other hand, the role of education as a private good is to promote personal development, acquisition of knowledge, and productivity of the well being of a target group. Thus, this analytical treatise attempts to analyze the private education system in Unites States of America (U.S) in terms of definition, history, policies, advantages, and disadvantages.

Definition to private education

The definition offered in this research papers is based on comparison between private and public education. Characterized by the way they are managed and financed, public education in its totality is normally managed by the government and their expenditures settled under the obligations of the tax payers’ money (Coulson 1999).

Private education system relies on the revenues collected from fees of parents and other contributions. Managed differently, their managers have their own educational services. This means that private schools in America are normally established through the support of non governmental agencies.

America private education system comprises of three major divisions. The first category is the parochial schools. Management of parochial schools is left under the responsibility of religious institutions such as Dioceses and parishes. They are obligated to provide financial support and managerial services. Secondly, nonprofit independent schools are owned independently.

Their finances depend upon an individual together with their management services. The third category is the profit private schools. Similar to nonprofit independent schools in management and ownership, the main objectivity is to make profit. Thus, it is more market driven and organized.

History of private education in America

History of the American private education is noted to have started early in the 16th century. At that time, the country was mostly occupied by private schools and religiously owned and managed schools. This initiative saw many individuals get educated. After the government adopted its law through Massachusetts General Court that required both parents and guardians of children in private schools to ascertain on the capability of their children.

The first private education center was founded by Benjamin Franklin. As a first secondary school, it started offering practical curriculum and variety of subjects based on the useful skills. By mid 18th century, many of such catholic private academies were instituted. This was due to the increased (Coulson 1999) higher number of the immigrants who were Catholics moving into America. They were mandated to offer arrays of practical subjects.

The year 1855 saw many of the private learning institutions being instituted in America. Almost six thousand private academies inclusive of both high schools and colleges were founded. With the increased demand for education, the total enrolment into these institutions rose to two hundred and sixty three thousand. At this time, the early private schools financial obligations were left in the hands of both the parents and their guardians.

In the year 1944 the congress eventually enacted a bill that facilitated the raising of funds to support college education facilities located at veterans. Other funds were allocated to private and religious schools. In the mid 1950s, Minnesota helped enact an educational bill that allowed on reduction to ‘k-12 expense’.

The expenses reduced to include transportation, stationary, and parental deduction to the private obligations. After four year, a one hundred year bill was revised by Maine. This touched on the total burn to private religious schools spending public funds in their operations.

Policies for education change

Private schools have continued to undergo tremendous changes both in management, financial assistance, and government interventions. In 18th century, legislations were enacted that burned private schools from benefiting from public funds. This made them to entirely depend on contributions from parents and guardians.

However, in 1999, Florida became the first congress to enact laws that allowed for offering scholarship opportunities to the students in private schools. In form of vouchers, most of the habitually failing public students were allowed to attend the private and other religious schools. The Supreme Court further enacted the same in 2002. It ruled out that vouchers don’t offend the establishment.

Nevertheless, much of the policies undertaken by the government helped create transformation in the education system within American society. In 1925, the US Supreme Court, in a case of ‘pierces vs. Little Sisters for the poor’, made a ruling that limited the government authority. They relied on the theory of liberty upon which government’s participation in the union helped reposes power of the state against standardizing education (Baker 2009).

The court ruled that a child was not a mere creature of the government but should be allowed to accept instructions from the teachers who have the rights to inform any one. While in 1922 the state of Oregon made some revisions on the law, it made it illegal for any child between the age of 8 and 16 to attend school. Making changes on the clause, it became open for any child between the age of 8 and 16 to attend to nongovernmental schools.

In 1948 the court made some changes concerning the law that restricted religious groups from having access to publicly owned buildings for the purpose of religious activities. But the rectification of the clause, it opened room for free interaction among the two groups. To its advantage, the children from the two sides were freed to attend any learning institution.

Before amendment of the law in 1952, students were not initially allowed to come out of their learning institutions to go and attend religious services in an outside environment. However, the only exemption was in form of a permission granted by parents. Nevertheless, it was illegal for conversion of any public building to use it for religious purposes. In 1952, an injunction was brought in the case of Zirach vs. Clauson.

Changes were made to allow students to have freedom of leaving their learning institutions for religious activities in the directions of their parents. It also allowed for free use and access to the public buildings for religious activities. Initially the law prohibited on the state officials from conducting of prayers in schools before 1962. But some of the changes in the law have made in open for prayers by the state official s to conduct prayers in schools.

Advantages of private education

Considerations of the advantages that accrued to the private schools are as a result of the policies implemented. To begin with, in private schools, there is no government intervention and unnecessary control in terms of budget and management formula. This leaves management of such private institutions in the hands of church leaders and other contracted personnel’s of high integrity. The appointed policy makers in such institutions help to coming up with strategies within the management structure and performance.

Thus, through elimination of more linkages and channels in the corporate structure, it allows for faster deliberations of problems and faster operations. Bureaucracy as a way of creating and going through several stages in an organization is totally minimized to ensure faster operations (Duncan, Shelton, and Klenk 2009).

As shown in the report conducted by U.S department of education on the traits of private schools, it was reported that greater percentage of the students took less time to complete graduate school in relation to those that had enrolled in public schools.

The reason given in the report is that students upon completion of studies in private schools, are directly absorbed into higher level of learning instead of having to wait for some time. Also, a further report by Standler (2011) illustrates research conducted about management in private and public learning institutions. In this analysis, it was discovered that public structures comprise of bureaucratic system of management than private education schools.

The second advantage relates to the class enrolment of students. From the report analyses on the survey conducted by the department of education in 2009 and 2010, it showed that during the period of research, the total number of student enrolment ranged to 141 across all the private schools.

This meant that there exist small sized classes in private schools. Advantageously, this can be said to correlate with the performance of the students. Apart from the performance, the smaller classes, by the fact that they occupy on a smaller spaces, are healthy and more spacious than those in public schools

Moreover, there is availability of new books and other resources to students since the schools can afford them. This translates into improved performance by of students.

Report conducted by Broughman, Swaim, and Hryczaniuk (2011) in June 2002, helps in illustrating that students are more likely to thrive in an environment that is supportive and have required resources of learning than those are not (Broughman, et al. 2011). The ‘Bureau of Just Statistics’ showed that students in private schools have access to new text books than those in public schools. Thus, they are motivated to learn.

Teachers in the private education institutions are provided with enabling environment to prepare on lesson plans and execution. In 2009 and 2010, the report by U.S department of education reveals that nearly seventy five percent of teachers prepare and implement lesson plans appropriately in private schools. When asked the role and effects of lessons plans to their teaching careers, they explained that it assisted in coverage of the syllabuses and give directions on the scope of information to be given to students.

Other advantage that private schools may have to both students and families is through creation and development of ethics and skills. As indicated in the report by Broughman, et al. (2011), it showed that sixty-seven percent of the private schools that enrolled 80 percent of the private school students and employing of seventy-three percent of the private school FTE teachers in 2009-2010 had a religious orientation.

This helped to shape the behaviors of the students. To the family members, choosing of good schools for their children always becomes important factors to consider. Parents always consider school as an extension of the home environment. It helps in promoting of values and ethics which are universally embraced by all (Duncan et al. 2009).

Disadvantages of private education

However, teachers who teach in these schools are normally paid lower salaries relative to those in public schools. Some of the schools that are managed and operated by the religious institutions lack enough funds to pay the teachers. The report by Broughman, et al. (2011) gives insight information on the salaries received by the teachers.

In the survey conducted between 2008 and 2010, most of the teachers in privately owned institutions were paid at an average lower salary. A more distracting of the situation is creation of a non-motivating environment to them. As illustrated by Vroom in his book, ‘Motivation to the Employees’ correlated with the performance of these institutions.

A lesser emphasis on core subjects is made by the teachers to their students. Through the orientations that students are given when joining these institutions, less time is devoted by the teachers to give directions on subject importance. More emphasis, as shown by (Baker 2009) in his report, is on performance which overrides the need to show students the aspects of individual subjects. The impact from the consequence normally weighs more on students.

During their professionalism at the college level, most of those students who find it hard to make decisions on future carrier specializations are said to have come from private schools (Broughman, et al. 2011). Lastly, there is always lack of diversity among the students. As shown by the department of education report of 2009. Most of the enrolment into these schools were from suburban schools, followed by those found in the cities. Majority of the students in these schools tended to be more or less from the same social and economic class.


The education system of America was initially characterized by both private or religious owned schools offering practical and knowledge skills in dispassion of literacy level to the majority of the Americans. However due increased influx of the immigrants, the demand for education overstretched the supply, thus, introduction of private education. The evolution of both the public and increased supply of private schools was to create a social order in the immigrants.

At present, policies have been formulated to manage the same. Reflectively, it is apparent that most private schools in America are better equipped in terms of facilities and amenities than those in public schools. Apart from those instituted by religious groups and NGOs, private schools that are owned by individuals tend to absorb students from more or less the same economic and social class who can afford the expensive education.


Baker, B. D. (2009). Private Schooling in the U.S.: Expenditures, Supply, and Policy Implications. Web.

Brougham, S.P., Swaim, N.L., & Hryczaniuk, C.A. (2011). Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results from the 2009-10 Private School Universe Survey (NCES 2011-339), Washington DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education Publication.

Coulson, A. J. (1999). Market Education: The Unknown History, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Duncan, A., Shelton, H., & Klenk, J. (2009). State Regulation of Private Schools. Web.

Standler, B. R. (2011). Possibility of “State Action” by private colleges in the USA. Web.

This Research Paper on Private Education in America was written and submitted by user Bo B. to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Bo B. studied at Indiana University Bloomington, USA, with average GPA 3.03 out of 4.0.

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B., Bo. "Private Education in America." IvyPanda, 16 Jan. 2020,

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B., Bo. "Private Education in America." IvyPanda (blog), January 16, 2020.


B., Bo. 2020. "Private Education in America." IvyPanda (blog), January 16, 2020.


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