A recent report argues that when policymakers assume the superiority of private schools over public schools, they may be ignoring lessons of importance to all schools.
The most significant variations in schools are the social, cultural, and economic differences between communities, not whether a school in the same community is public or private, according to the report.
The study, "Can Public Schools Learn from Private Schools?" found that differences are ultimately rooted in differences in the communities they serve and in the social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of the parents, not in the public or private nature of the schools. It concludes that a private school serving an inner-city neighborhood has more in common with the public schools in a similar community than it does with a private school in an affluent community.
The study was released in late September by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington research group, and in conjunction with the Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund. It was written by EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein, Stanford University Professor Martin Carnoy and Luis Benveniste of the World Bank.
The study examined the practices at eight public schools (including charter schools) and eight private schools (both secular and religious) in California to try to determine what public schools can learn from their private, nonprofit counterparts. The 16 case studies analyze such characteristics as accountability to parents, teacher selection and retention, and curriculum materials.
For the complete report: www.epinet.org or 800-374-4844.