So long as the institutions have existed, people—parents, teachers, students, and world leaders alike—have debated whether public or private education is better. Although the question still burns in the minds of all who want the best for our students, the truth of the matter is that what makes something “better” is circumstantial and specific to each and every family. To this point, better means something potentially different to everyone. To some, public schools are better in the general case that they are more affordable than private schools. Additionally, public schools typically have better (larger and more competitive) sports programs than private schools do. Some public schools offer more courses, have better technology, are closer to home, and can have a wider array of extracurriculars to participate in than private Christian high schools. That being said, what is particularly better for your student and family depends on what you are looking for. Better is determined by the values you hold and live by.
So what DO the best private schools have to offer? What makes a private education beneficially different from public education? What makes the best private schools different from the best public schools in Los Angeles county?
The first thing that sets the best private schools apart from the best public schools is its detachment from the general education movement. Unregulated by the swing of statewide votes that determine the standards and meaning of the education it provides, a private school enjoys the luxury of casting its own vision for the values they carry and hold its students/faculty to.
In a world in which public truth is becoming more and more subjective, a private school operates on the values they determine from the beginning. Built upon a foundation of what they believe in, both secular and Christian private schools serve students and parents by values that are grounded and unchanging. Due to the religious background of Southlands Christian School, we are offering our viewpoint and services of a private Christian school that bases itself on biblical truth.
The best of what private Christian schooling has to offer is that it is not just a place for learning. A private Christian school envisions itself as a haven where a student’s character and values are forged. Studies show that a child’s life-long views are often developed and cemented at age fourteen. Additional research by the Council of American Private Education (CAPE) has shown that students attending the best private Christian schools have fewer behavioral problems than their counterparts at public schools—even when adjusting for socioeconomic status, race, and gender. We are all human, and such a study does not promise that being at a private school means that its students and faculty are perfectly behaved. That being said, there are real benefits to exposing students to courses that encourage them to explore different world views, ethics, the Bible, and objective truth in a personal way that public schools do not offer. The additional education that the best private Christian schools provide has the potential to translate into fewer gangs, less drugs, and greater harmony amongst diverse people groups—which ultimately leads to safer schools and healthier students who are better prepared and informed of the world they live in.
Certainly not on the back-burner of private Christian schools, CAPE studies have also shown that private school students perform at higher levels in academics when compared to students at public schools. It is not to say that public school students don’t perform academically; many students at public schools do well and attend top universities. However, studies suggest that private Christian schools tend to provide a specific academic setting that propels its students further than the rest. Known for having smaller classes, the best private Christian schools—in general—boast a low teacher to student ratio that allows for better academic growth and individualized attention by dedicated and equally qualified educators. While private schools are not always able to offer the same variety of classes that larger, government-funded public schools can, they still provide an exceptional and challenging education experience—making use of Advanced Placement courses, STEAM curriculum, extracurricular activities, and more. Private school students constantly score in the highest percentile on standardized tests, college entrance exams, and many private schools pride themselves in having close to a one-hundred percent rate of students attending their university of choice. CAPE also asserts that students who attend private Christian high schools perform at an academic level about a year ahead of their counterparts. Additionally, their study finds that this achievement gap—measured by ethnicity and socioeconomic standing—is about a quarter narrower in private Christian schools than in public schools.
In light of both the ethical and academic benefits of private Christian education, such schools ground these things in a safe environment—in which high standards for discipline/respect are held and open communication between parents and administration are actively encouraged. Through the implementation of social events such as fundraisers, parent-teacher breakfasts, and field-trips, private schools cultivate a strong sense of community that strengthens parent-child-teacher relationships by involving parents in their children’s education.
In the grand scheme of it all, the ultimate goal of the private Christian education system is to guide the student toward graduation. The private school’s role in the student’s life is to properly prepare them for the road ahead. After high school, the fact is that the top academic colleges/universities are no longer the private Christian ones; the secular schools are the schools most students will attend. Whether a student is religious or not, college/university life gives rise to many tests—of personal beliefs/values, of friendships, of one’s capabilities, and of becoming your own person. Each and every student will face these tests as individuals—quite possibly without the presence of their parents and apart from the communities and values they were raised up in. The student addresses these challenges in a personal way. And these moments can define a person and who they become.
At Southlands Christian School, we believe the best private Christian schools should prepare its students by providing a life of continuity—a sense of unbroken consistency. Academically, the best private Christian schools should continually challenge the student—fostering growth and excellence in an engaging way so that the learning transition from high school to university is smooth and without disruption. In terms of community, we believe that a private school grounds the student in positive relationships with parents, teachers, and peers—growing the individual into a character enabled and emboldened to create and build on the relationships around oneself, wherever one is. Both academics and community are held together by the collective values and relational vision that the best private Christian schools are founded on. By its values, such a school is set apart in providing students and their families with a loving & learning environment that will get them where they want to go and prepare them for what is there.