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Public vs. Private Education: Where Should You Send Your Child?

Image by Nicole Honeywell

Are you having trouble deciding where to send your child to school? You’re not alone - choosing where to send your child to school is one of the hardest decisions any parent makes. When you find out that your child has a disability, that decision is further complicated. Do you send your son to a public school or a private school with special education emphasis? It can be a scary decision, for both your child and yourself.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of resources to help you make your decision. There are pros and cons to public and private schools alike, and we have compiled some here along with some resources to start you on your way.

Public Schools:

Public schools are the more obvious, easy choice. They’re easy to enroll in, they’re easy to keep an eye on, and they’re funded by the government, which makes things easier on parents and faculty alike.

Public schools rely on IEP’s, which are specialized education plans made specifically to adhere to your son or daughter and their specific learning difficulties. In order to receive special education, the school is required to evaluate your child and assign them an IEP. From there, the school makes a decision on how to best care for your son or daughter and provide them an education. You can read more about IEP’s and their processes here.

Private Schools:

Private schools are similar to public schools in processing a child’s educational needs. Instead of an IEP, private schools use an ISP, or Individualized Service Plan. ISP’s are similar to IEP’s, but it’s important to note that they do not follow the same process. ISP’s, for example, are provided by your local education agency (LEA), not the school itself. This means that your child receives funding from the agency instead of the school.

Which one should you choose?

There are several advantages to both sides of the coin.

Public schools receive better funding for their programs, and the children they teach are entitled to individualized funding. However, even with IEP’s being individualized, public schools are not required to specifically adhere to your child. Your son may be placed in integrated classes with others who do not have disabilities, or be placed in classes that do not adhere specifically to his disability.

Private schools have limited funding, but have the freedom to decide how to integrate their own education plans. This means that private schools can be specialized to special education students. The Nicholas School, for example, is a private school specialized in educating students with neurological disability. Because of this specialty, they are able to focus on helping students with specific disabilities and can provide better resources for the specific programs.

In short, both public and private schools can educate your child. However, it wouldn’t be a waste of your time to look into a specialized private school, to see if your child can benefit more from a specialized educational setting.

For more information, please check out the following resources:


Author: Raeann Calcutta

Raeann Calcutta is a social media intern and blogger for the ONEIL Center for Research Communication. She has her associate's degree in Communications from Sinclair Community College and currently studies Communication and Digital Media studies at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

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Ellen Rocha
Dec 28, 2022

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