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Public, Charter, and Private Schools. What’s the difference?

Each day we make hundreds of decisions. It can be as simple as deciding which direction to turn when driving or as complex as whether or not to relocate for a job offer.

One of the most important decisions you can make for your child is the school they attend.

When public, charter schools, and private schools are all options, how do you know where to start?

They all have their benefits and drawbacks. Your decision should be based on the individual needs of your child.

Here’s a quick overview:

Public Schools

  • Larger class sizes

  • Curriculum is directed by the district and not very flexible

  • Must adhere to guidelines set by the state and district

  • More bureaucracy, red tape, and processes

  • Free to the public. Funded by government sources

  • Requires certification for teachers

  • Must provide education to all types of learners

  • Diverse types of learners, cultures, and economic status

Private Schools

  • Select the type of student profile they want to serve - college preparatory, learning style, single-gender, etc.

  • Flexibility in the curriculum they use - selected based on student profile and desired outcomes

  • Teacher certification is not required so they can take advantage of industry experts in the classrooms.

  • Smaller class sizes and lower student-teacher ratios

  • Lower tolerance for behavior and attendance infractions

  • Funding comes from tuition and fundraising

  • Must adhere to a basic set of state regulations (length of the school year, types of subjects offered, public health, and safety

Charter Schools

  • A public school that is independent through a contract with the local school board

  • School draws up their own “charter” - a set of rules and performance standards they are held accountable to. (relatively new, 24% of charter schools close due to mismanagement and funding issues)

  • Open to all types of students.

  • Cannot charge tuition. Receives state funding

  • The curriculum can be flexible but held accountable to their contract

  • Must participate in state testing and federal accountability

  • Teacher certification requirements vary from state to state.

There is no one perfect school and each has its own benefits and challenges. Choosing a school requires thoughtful consideration based on your child’s needs, your budget, and your goals. The best way to start the school selection process is by visiting the school to see for yourself.

Here’s to finding the right school!

Cheering for you and your child to get the right school fit,

Hunter Cluthe

William & Reed

Head of School

Imagine, a school designed for today’s student!

P.S. If you are looking for a school in the Alpharetta/ Johns Creek area, you may want to consider William & Reed Academy. It’s a private college preparatory school for today’s 6th - 12th-grade students who want to make the best use of their time with a focus on the core academic areas and a compressed Monday - Thursday schedule.


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