Inexpensive Private Schools Better than Public Schools: The Fraser Institute

Wed Jun 25, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

TORONTO, ON, June 25, 2008 ( - A survey focused on low income families with children attending inexpensive private schools found that parents say their children do better academically and experience fewer social problems than children at public schools, according to the results of new research published by The Fraser Institute, an independent research organization.

"The parents surveyed reported lower incidences of bullying, fighting, drug use, and racism in inexpensive private schools compared to public schools. They also found their children did better academically and had improved social skills," said Claudia Hepburn, the study’s co-author and Fraser Institute director of education studies.

Survey participants were drawn from Ontario families who applied for a grant through the Fraser Institute’s "Children First: School Choice Trust" to send their children to a private school, and were broken into three groups: families who received a Children First grant; families that did not receive a grant but were still able to send their children to a private school; and families who did not receive a grant and whose children attended a public school.

The study found that the average cost of tuition at inexpensive private schools was $4,398 per year, while the cost of providing public schooling per year was more than $8,000 per child in Ontario.

The families with children in private schools reported that their children’s academic performance improved and behavioural problems decreased, while a large proportion of families with children at public schools reported that the child’s academic performance, social skills and behaviour had worsened.

"We were astounded to see that small independent schools make such a difference for disadvantaged children, particularly considering that these schools cost, on average, 45 per cent less than public schools," Hepburn said.

"The survey results strongly show that parents of limited income who make the sacrifice to send their children to independent schools, whether or not they do so through a Children First grant, are much more satisfied with the academic and social environment of their children’s school than the parents whose children attend public schools."

Similar results were found with the problems of bullying, fighting, drugs, cheating, racism, and stealing.

Three times as many parents with children in public schools said these behavioural problems were serious issues in their schools, with bullying being the most reported issue, compared to parents with children attending private schools.

The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization whose mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals.

The survey and accompanying study, "Low Incomes, High Standards, Can private schools make a difference for low income families?" is available here:

More information on the Fraser Institute is available here:

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