Private School Resurgence

April 20, 1979

Report Outline
Private Education's Appeal
Education and Social Change
Changing Role of Private Schools

Private Education's Appeal

New Popularity With Urban Middle Class

Once thought of as a luxury few families could afford, a private education is coming to be considered a middle-class necessity. Many parents who might otherwise have sent their children to public elementary and secondary schools as a matter of course are now enrolling them in private schools. The new interest in private education is largely the result of growing dissatisfaction over the declining standards of achievement and discipline reported in the nation's public school systems. Traditionally, private institutions have stressed high academic requirements and instruction in moral values, qualities some parents believe are not emphasized enough in the public classrooms.

The shortcomings of public schools, particularly inner-city schools, have been widely publicized, as have the advantages of good schooling to qualify students for admission to college. Although relatively few Americans have had much contact with private schools, the general assumption is that they are superior to public schools. And in recent years, more families than in the past have seemed willing to pay high tuitions in the hope that private education will give their college-bound children the added encouragement to excel.

The U.S. Office of Education estimated that last fall there were 47.8 million elementary and secondary school children in the country. Out of that number, five million, or about 10 percent, went to private schools. While public school enrollments nationwide are dropping at an annual rate of around 2 percent, private school attendance has increased steadily — last year by slightly over 1 percent.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Religion and Schools
Dec. 20, 2002  Charter Schools
Feb. 15, 2002  School Vouchers Showdown
May 04, 2001  Faith-Based Initiatives
Jan. 12, 2001  Religion in Schools
Apr. 09, 1999  School Vouchers
Jul. 18, 1997  School Choice Debate
Feb. 18, 1994  Religion in Schools
May 10, 1991  School Choice
Aug. 16, 1983  School Prayer
Apr. 20, 1979  Private School Resurgence
Sep. 02, 1967  Private Schooling
Sep. 12, 1947  Religion in the Schools
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Private Schools and Home Schooling