In a room packed with Congressional staff members, media, and policymakers today, the Center for Public Education released its latest report, Busting the Myth of One-Size-Fits-All Public Education. The study is an original analysis of federal survey data that aims to learn what educational opportunities and options exist in public schools. This was done, of course, against the backdrop of school choice, two words that have dominated discourse on public education lately, despite being somewhat vague and misunderstood among the general public.
For instance, did you know that school choice (i.e. a variety of programs and offerings) are in abundant supply in your very own public school? That’s what we discovered in digging into the latest survey data administered by the National Center on Education Statistics, which queried not only public school staff but private school staff on the types of programs that exist in their schools. While the data was limited in many areas, we were able to arrive at some fairly substantial findings:
• Public high schools offer more educational and extracurricular options for students including the arts, Advanced Placement, gifted or honors classes, and distance learning opportunities than private schools.
• Public schools are more likely to offer afterschool child care and tutoring or enrichment activities.
• School counselors play a key role in students’ learning and care: Eighty percent of public schools have at least one part-time counselor compared to only 32 percent of private schools.
• The vast majority of public high schools offer access to hands-on college experience with almost all (98 percent) offering career preparation.
And there are other intriguing discoveries to be found in our report, but if there is one thing we hope you takeaway from our study it’s that school choice and public schools are not mutually exclusive. In fact, students are more likely to find more opportunities to chart their own learning path in public schools than in private schools. And we know this based on the data available. Remember data is key to making informed decisions.