Sunday, October 28, 2007

Private School Tuition: 1/3 to 1/2 Less Than Publics

Using data from this U.S. 2006 Department of Education report, the graph above (click to enlarge) shows average tuition at private schools (elementary and secondary) vs. average per pupil spending for public schools (elementary and secondary) for the 2003-2004 school year.

Average private school tuition ($6,600) was about 1/3 less than the spending per pupil in public schools ($9,620) in 2003-2004 (the most recent year available), and average Catholic school tuition ($4,254) was less than half of public school spending per student.

Not only was the average private school tuition between 1/3 and 1/2 less than the cost per public school student, the private schools had on average 18% more teachers per 1000 students (72.25 in private schools vs. 61 in public schools) in 2003-2004.

Bottom Line: Private schools can educate students at a lower cost, with more teachers per 1000 students, than the public schools. Reason: Private schools must have significantly fewer non-instructional administrative employees, and therefore significantly lower administrative expenses than their public counterparts.

24 Comments:

At 10/28/2007 5:41 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well now this is rather hilarious and I don't mean in the sense of, ha! ha!" either...

Wading through that Dept. of Education report (the report that believes one word won't do if there are ten words that can replace it) was a chore!

Enlightening though!

Good stuff Professor Mark!

 
At 10/28/2007 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private schools don't have to provide services to special education students. Some students need extra help, which costs extra money.

 
At 10/28/2007 7:06 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Some students need extra help, which costs extra money"...

So why should the earnings of working people be extorted via the tax system to pay for these special needs?

 
At 10/28/2007 7:15 PM, Blogger Buce said...

There are many reasons why school costs may rise. Not to claim originality, let me recall a few:
1) We ask schools to do more these days.
2) We ask them to educate a broader swath of students than we used to (overlaps with, but different from, one).
3) Teachers are paid better.
4) Bureaucracies never (well, hardly ever) get smaller.
--Except perhaps for (4) each of these harbours a number of contentious policy decisions. E.g., (3), teacher pay. Teachers do get paid better than they used to, and it is often a pretty good job. It's not obvious that this is self-evidently a bad thing. We all like the servants to work cheap, but cheap help may wind up being excpensive.
(2) We educate more students--probably not much quarrel that education should be generally available, but you are bound to pick up more, and more expensive, problems on the way.
(3) Giving more tasks to the public schools may be the most contentious of all. Breathes there a man with soul so dead he never to himself has said "Why don't the schools do more of etc."

 
At 10/28/2007 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be difficult to change public schools considering the number of otherwise unemployable civil serpents who have phony baloney jobs to protect.

 
At 10/28/2007 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can one compare the costs of public education vs private education without comparing what is taught, how it is taught, where it is taught, who is taught and who is teaching?

I would never send my children to a public school and I would never seek to compare schools of any sort by using averages.

 
At 10/28/2007 9:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Buce, who is this, "WE" you keep mentioning?

How come this alledged, "WE" isn't volunteering to shell out more their 'own money' to pay for what they are supposedly asking for?

 
At 10/28/2007 9:36 PM, Blogger Buce said...

Juandos asks: “who is this, "WE" you keep mentioning?” It’s a fair question: “we” are certainly not a given, and defining “we” may call into question some of our most basic notions of community, society, and the state. A growing number of thinkers argue, for example, that immigration controls do nothing but expend public money to maintain a conspiracy in restraint of trade. “We” (ahem) are already pretty well down the road to replacing “public” policing with security guards, militias and suchlike. “We’ve” gone a short way towards clawing services like highways and airlines out of “public” hands, although it probably will be a while before the FAA, say, is fully privatized. At the military level “we” are proceeding a little more slowly but sooner or later we will wake up to recognize that our public expenditure on the military at this point does little more than subsidize the training of private armies—the question will be whether it is more productive to dismantle West Point or simply to sell it.

Oddly enough “we” do persist in hanging onto some atavistic remnants of this more primitive way of thinking—flags on Fourth of July, patriotic lapel pins, sugar subsidies for zillionaires. But these are surely no more than residual fragments of superstition.

There may be some residual paradoxes, but they are not beyond us (how, for example, can I be sure of my 2d-amendment right to a home nuclear arsenal if there is no second amendment?) But fortunately, more advanced nations—Columbia, for example, maybe Chad—have at last begun to expose the bankruptcy of this atavistic “statist” view of things. With luck, Juandos can anticipate a future in which his children won’t have to bear any of the shackles of community, and will be able to depend only on the strength of their own weapons and themselves.

 
At 10/29/2007 5:17 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Buce, interesting reply NOT that I agree whole heartedly with your answer but it sure does give me something to think about...

This part of your reply I both disagree with in part and in part agree with: 'Oddly enough “we” do persist in hanging onto some atavistic remnants of this more primitive way of thinking—flags on Fourth of July, patriotic lapel pins, sugar subsidies for zillionaires'...

I believe we humans are a derivative of clan like animals so hanging onto national identities and patriotic feelings is NOT a bad thing...

Subsidies for rich or poor (regardless of what rationalization one attempts) are for me an ananthema since there is NO Constitutional basis for such...

Your other comment that I feel must need correcting is this one: 'Columbia, for example, maybe Chad—have at last begun to expose the bankruptcy of this atavistic “statist” view of things'...

Having had the misfortune of visiting both places several times in the last twenty years, no such thing is happening from what I observed...

Quite the opposite in fact...

None the less Buce you make some very good & salient points, points to consider...

Thanks much...

 
At 10/29/2007 6:58 PM, Blogger Buce said...

Juandos says:
...
"Subsidies for rich or poor (regardless ... are for me an ananthema since there is NO Constitutional basis for such... "
...
Can we count on you for a contribution (voluntary, of course) to a defense fund for those who won't pay taxes in support of an undeclared war?

 
At 11/02/2007 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember that this is private school *tuition*, not *cost*. Tuition does not always equal the amount the school is actually paying to educate the students - it is usually less, with the difference made up in a variety of ways. Many private schools 1) have endowments, 2) get considerable alumni donations, 3) run a variety of fund raisers, 4) are supported by churches (by direct financial subsidy and/or reduced rent, etc.), 5) are staffed by priests, nuns, or other people who see their work as a religious mission and will therefore work for significantly less than public school teachers (essentially donating a percentage of their labor), 6) do not accept students with serious handicaps (blindness, autism, Down's syndrome, etc.) who are significantly more expensive to educate, and so on.
In some states, taxpayer funds are used to provide buses, textbooks, and school nurses.

 
At 11/03/2007 6:07 PM, Anonymous i bomb tanks. said...

the actual mark for that public spending is $8899 from your referenced source. your addition($684) to that figure on the part of transportation is not included in the private tuition figures.

furthermore, the title of this blog is immediately misleading in saying "Private School Tuition: 1/3 to 1/2 Less Than Publics." You are not comparing private tuition to public tuition; you are comparing private tuition to total public school spending per student.

and the actual difference between your comparison:

100% - $6600 / $8899 * 100% = 25.8%

last time i checked, "1/3 to 1/2" means 33.3% to 50%.

 
At 11/03/2007 7:23 PM, Anonymous tank bomber. said...

... not to mention that the comparison is between private tuition "payment" and public education "spending".

 
At 5/15/2008 7:21 AM, Anonymous Public Schools said...

It is a nice and informative post about the comparison of fees in different types of schools. Public schools are the most expensive but this is due to their high quality of facilities and services they provide to students.

 
At 7/30/2008 9:54 AM, Anonymous SpidermanTUba said...

??? Why are you comparing apples to oranges ???

Why not compare private school spending to public school spending, instead of private school tuition to public school spending?

???

You're comparing a) a portion of the cash inflows for private schools vs. b) the sum total of all cash outflows for public schools.

???


I don't really get the point of the comparison. The private high school I attended was about $2500 a year back in the early 90's. But their total spending per student was far greater than $2500 a year because they took in millions of dollars in donations a year. Plus, the school didn't have to pay for land or buildings because the Church owned those and allowed their by the school for free.


Private schools also have the advantage of getting to pick their students and parents.

They don't have to accept the physically handicapped kids whose parents can't afford their care at school - public schools do, they don't have a choice. I attended a public middle school, and we had a physically handicapped child that required an additional full time employee for their care. Private schools do not have to pay for this - public schools do.

Private schools also don't have to accept ill behaved children or children whose parents aren't interested in their child's education. This means they can afford higher quality teachers for less money because the work environment is so much better in a school with well behaved children and involved parents.

 
At 9/15/2008 6:52 PM, OpenID nimrod504 said...

one argument in favor of public schools are, "teachers are paid better." that's because every school district has a Teacher's Union. Unions sound good on the surface, but are backwards. Teachers threaten to strike almost every year if they don't get a pay raise. problem with that? some teachers don't deserve a pay raise. at the public school i went to as a kid, half the teachers were no shows, and when they did show they slept or let the class run wild. Meanwhile, teachers who are brilliant and taught well received the same pay. in a private school system, laziness is not tolerated and the teacher will be fired. pay can be determined by a teacher's performance, not by the group as a whole.
if public schools were disbanded, private schools would step up and take their place. there would be schools of many different types all competing for your business, even schools specializing in students with special needs (instead, those children as seen as "one more problem to deal with" by public schools). and it would have to be affordable or you wouldn't send your kid there. it would have to perform well and hire competent teachers or you would not send your kids there.

open your eyes people. the free market is the only way to fix these problems. maybe some people have fond memories of their high school life. maybe they were in a lucky district with rich people and high tax revenues and parents who cared about their kids' education and demanded more. most of us, however, saw a public school that was nothing more than a fraudulent waste of funds and free babysitting.

 
At 11/11/2008 4:55 AM, Blogger privateschool said...

This is the good article and shows interesting facts. Public schools spending is more then the private junior and senior schools. Still these schools are not able to provide good education. This factoid shoes that private schools are better than public schools.

http://www.teensprivateschools.com/schooltypes/Private-Schools/index.html

 
At 12/02/2008 12:39 PM, Blogger About the company: said...

The essential problem with public school occurs when school officials attempt to retrofit all services to accommodate all students. This often backfires, however, because they quite often damage the childrens' learning environment, and make things harder for everything.

 
At 3/27/2009 10:40 AM, Blogger Huey said...

You guys still don't get it. This entire blog post is bunk. It compares a portion of the cash inflows of private schools to the total cash outflows of public schools. Private school tuition is not what it "costs" for a student to go to private school. The total cost includes ALL money it spends per student regardless of source - this includes not only tuition, but any income from endowments, any donations, any land or buildings it is allowed to use free of charge (say, by a Church), plus any public funding it might receive. Yes, some private schools are partially funded by the government. Here in Louisiana, the (non-religious) textbooks and the school buses are paid for by the state for both private and public schools.


If someone would like to post statistics comparing the total COST of a private education to the total cost of a public, instead of the tuition of a private school education to the cost of a public - I'd like to see it. I've yet to see such a comparison anywhere, seems like most of the anti-free education types are invested in this sort of intellectual dishonesty.


until then - we can compare the TUITION of a private school to the TUITION of a public school - just take the above graph and pencil in ZERO for the public schools.

 
At 6/23/2009 3:35 AM, Blogger SpidermanTUba said...

"Unions sound good on the surface, but are backwards." - nimrod

Hey nimrod, why are you talking to us as if we're three?

 
At 4/20/2010 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

private schools pick and choose who can attend,public can't. public schools offer free lunch and breakfast based on income,private don't.private schools don't operate a bus service.private schools don't support clubs and athletics.private schools don't have to have classes for mentally handicapped or physically handicapped. nor teachers to instruct them. if private schools had the same conditions as public my guess is that they would be much higher. after all private schools are for PROFIT.

 
At 9/27/2011 8:32 PM, Blogger Loki said...

You are comparing private school tuition with public school cost. Tuition does not cover all costs in most cases. I'd be interested to see private school costs compared to public school costs - private schools do an immense amount of fundraising, have endowments, or are supported by religious groups (hence the lower cost for catholic schools).

 
At 12/18/2011 1:19 PM, OpenID bff4ed98-29a4-11e1-abb5-000bcdca4d7a said...

Aside from Bruce's leftist, insane rant (completely unresponsive to the question posed), some valid points are made here.

However, here's a core reason for the cost (not just tuition) differential: teacher salary. public school teachers earn nearly 30% more than private school teachers. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=55

Class size differential is minor (18 v. 20), so per-pupil teacher compensation is a huge factor here.

None of the other factors mentioned change this fact. (Land in inner cities, where the worst schools are, is dirt cheap. And presumably, most public school systems also own their land and buildings -- why wouldn't they?).

Bottom line, public school teachers are overpaid, due to unions and their interference with normal market conditions. They underperform, due to unions and their interference with normal market conditions. And their political allies who block necessary reform.

 
At 12/18/2011 10:28 PM, Blogger Buce said...

Not sure who is this Bruce person (I'm Buce) but as to our genial commentator's general point, of course I could not agree more. The idea that the grasping little weasels i the teaching racket should actually be paid for their services is enough to beggar all sense of justice. By rights they should pay us for the privilege of breathing the aura of our young princes and princesses (just as British officers until not so long ago had to pay for their commissions in the army). Short of that, I'd say the teaching game is one of the best justifications I can imagine for unrestricted immigration. Let these moneygrubbers face competition from a horde of underemployed farm workers and they might at last begin to understand just how fungible and dispensable their supposed "skills" really are. And don't even think about letting me get started on University profs...

 

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