I was reading an article at Trulia about home values and school systems, and I came across a few interesting things. As much as we hear about how awful public school systems are, about 90% of all students in the US attend public schools. While I knew about that, the breakdown of the 10% in private school did surprise me a bit by the huge disparity within the stats.
Who Sends Their Kids to Private School
Let’s start with two essential facts about private schools, which explain a lot about who goes to private school:
- Essential fact #1: Just 20% of private school students attend non-sectarian schools; the other 80% are in religiously-affiliated private schools, of which half are Catholic.
- Essential fact #2: The cost of private schools is high, but varies widely. On average, tuition is almost $11,000, not counting discounts or scholarships. This ranges from $7,000 for Catholic schools and $9,000 for other religious schools to $22,000 for non-sectarian private schools. Tuition tops out at about $40,000 for the most expensive prep schools.
Given the high cost, kids from richer families are far more likely to go to private school than kids from poorer families. Only 6% of kids in households with incomes under $50,000 attend private schools, compared with 26% of kids in households with incomes of $200,000 or more.
While it’s not shocking that higher income families are more likely to attend a private school, I was shocked that 80% of the private schools were religiously affiliated. Living in the South, I would expect such a thing regionally, but I wouldn’t have thought it would carry nationwide.
Surprisingly, it’s not a “Southern blockade” of states that send the most kids to private schools. There’s a list of the top 10 metro areas where the most kids attend private school, and it seems as though the areas tend to be more Catholic than the rest of the country. Baton Rouge, LA is number one, sending 25.1% of the students enrolled in schools to private schools, and at number 10 is St. Louis at 16.7%.
The article is interesting, especially considering the whole thing is about home values. Part of the reason for me buying my home where it is was because of the school system. I didn’t think I’d have the money to afford private school, and that though has pretty much panned out. I guess I’ll chuckle to myself the next time I hear someone talking about the failing public schools. If I can remember, I’ll ask them how much of that 90% is a failure and whether I should spend money to put my child in the 8% part that’s Catholic to appease their fears.