Escuelas privadas frente a las Escuelas Públicas

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The debate in Spain over public versus private education is only on the surface about the quality of the educational experience. In fact, by measurable outcomes there is no difference in level of achievement, entrance into university, or job placement between those who attend public schools versus those who attend private schools. The real issue appears to be about social standing and fear/dislike of the “other”.

The names of schools children attend are used as a badge of honor confirming distinction on both the parent and the child.  “My child goes to the German School”; “My child goes to the British School”; “My child goes to St. ….”. And “Miles (pronounced mee-les), where does your child go to school?” And when I mention that Dominique is attending a public school at first I get that look of bewilderment and then that look that comes into people’s eyes when they feel sorry for you or think that you are an imbecile but don’t want to say anything.

As I have scratched beneath the surface about this and inquired why those who disapproved of public school education did so, at first I heard statements about quality of instruction.  But, this did not stand up to close scrutiny.  The government mandates the curriculum, books and lessons for both public and private schools.  All the kids are learning the same things, more or less. Class size is about the same (sometimes smaller in the public schools). So what is the difference?  The answer appears to be about bragging rights and making sure your child is not exposed to the immigrants in public school…like me.

The focus of most of the fear/dislike is Moroccans, followed closely by South Americans. The belief is that these children do not have the same “values”, or as “well behaved” as Spanish children (see my previous post about the behavior of Spanish children). It is my turn to look at them with pity and as if they are “tonto”.

For the record, I think Colegio Publico Portugal, where Dominique is going to school was a perfect choice for her.  The teachers are caring and made her transition as painless as it can be when you come to a school in the middle of the school year and don’t speak the language.  Do I think the academics are up to par with what she was studying in the States, no. But, as I said earlier, the curriculum would be no different at a private school. And I suspect less caring. So, this whole thing has me thinking about public and private school education in the States.

In Virginia a lot of the private school education (as well as home schooling) is based on religious separation; meaning people want their kids raised with a certain religious doctrine and not exposed to behaviors and beliefs that run counter to theirs. Of course, it is crass in the US to engage in behavior that sets you too far apart socio-economically.  But, everyone knows how expensive it is to go to certain private schools.  Now, my question is do kids who attend private schools in the US fair better than their public school counter parts (asked by someone who attended public school and has not done too bad)? The argument is made on the face that this is why parents send kids to private schools. And of course there are those who argue for “school choice” based on “failing” public schools.

I am just wondering how different we are in the States from the Spaniards.

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Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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