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Thread: Private Schools

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Wayland, MA

    Default Private Schools

    I am familiar with public schools and private schools. I like them both. Are private schools "better" than public schools? Well, there are many different types of private schools. Some are for extremely bright and athletic students. Some are for bright children who need an extra push. Some are for chldren with dyslexia and other learning issues. Some are children with severe emotional and behaviorial issues. Some are performing arts schools. Some are montessori schools - no grades. Some are religious schools. The public schools attempt to educate all of our children - some of whom we send to the appropriate private school in certain cases.

    I send my children to the Wayland Public Schools because it's included in my taxes and it's a darn good school system. I went to private high school and I liked it. Would I send my children to private school? Yes. I don't because it's pretty expensive (around $20-25,000 for elementary school a year) and very hard to get into. Would I send them to private high school? Maybe.

    There was an article 2 or 3 years back about Philips Andover in the NYTimes. They spend something like $65,000 per student a year! The tuition isn't that high - the endowment fills in the rest. Andover better than Wayland High School? Andover is better than many colleges! Many privates schools are aware of their elitist reputation. They are always trying to recruit good students who are not necessarily rich.

    I don't have a child in high school yet, but I have a feeling that the education there for some is similar to some private schools. But it's not the bright, high-achieving child that represents the Wayland Public Schools - let's face it, those kids probably would do well anywhere. How does a public school educate an average student? The one who never wants to do homework?

    I went to boarding school. My brother and sister did too. My mother did. Is boarding school a good thing? It can be. Am I an elitist? No.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Wayland MA


    Elizabeth, interesting post that raises some good questions about the differences between public and private schools. If the latter is better in a given case, why? More money to invest in education is one possibility, of course. I don't know what a teacher at Phillips Andover makes, but my understanding is that in general, public school teachers earn more than private. Class size is a big difference--the average at Phillips Andover is 13, versus an estimated 20-25 at Wayland High School. The makeup of the student body is another obvious difference.

    I was interested to read your comment about the $65,000 cost (not tuition) per student per year. According to, day tuition at Phillips Andover is $32,200 and boarding tuition is $41,300. It's a 9-12 school with an enrollment of 1,100 (800 boarding, 300 day) compared with 867 at WHS.

    The difference between the $65,000 cost and the $42,300 boarding tuition is $22,700. If you multiply that difference by the 1,100 students, you get an expense to the school of $25M (without factoring in need-based scholarships). A Wikipedia entry notes a $550M endowment as of 2004--if that amount hasn't changed much in the last 7 years, then Phillips Andover is spending about 5% of its endowment a year on operating costs. That strikes me as being a bit high (the wealthy are very good about not spending their capital!), but with good investment, they could be covering it out of their annual gains.


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