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Teaching in Public Schools

When you're searching for your first teaching job, you'll be wondering whether you should teach at a private or public school. Here are some facts about public schools to help you make your decision.

  • School Population

Public schools must admit any student living in their attendance zone since they are a service paid for by taxes. Depending on your attendance zone, you may have students from very high income homes, students living in poverty, or anything in between. If you're looking to make a difference in the lives of students who might not normally get the opportunities to see success, public school is the place to do it.

  • Classes

Because public schools are larger, there will be a larger variety of classes that you can teach. For example, a private school with only 300 students may only need 3-4 science teachers to cover all the science classes needed. If there's already a biology teacher, they don't need you. In a public school of 3,000 students, many more science teachers are needed. You might not only get to teach Biology, but also a specialty class that is closer to your heart like Zoology or Botany.

  • A Method for Everything

Because public schools are a government program, the education system has a certain way of running things. If you're the type of person who thrives on structure and order, the public school system will be a good fit for you. Your district will provide you with a curriculum, a prescribed textbook, and a schedule to help you meet specific learning goals for your students.

Standardized tests will help you to compare your students to others around the country and modify your teaching strategies to help your students improve their skills. If you have a problem with one of your students, there is a method in dealing with that problem that your district has used for years.

  • No Religion

Many private schools are founded by a particular religious group and promote certain religious beliefs. If you teach in a private school you may have to teach religion classes or participate in religious activities.

Public schools cannot espouse any particular religion. Religion is taught in context of history or literature, but never in its own right and never with a slant toward which religion is right or wrong.

  • Continuing Education

As a public school teacher, you are required to complete a certain amount of hours of professional development classes every year. These hours are recorded and when you reach a certain number (determined by your state), your certification is renewed.  

All public school teachers must complete the same continuing education classes, especially those in teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and literacy training. These are things you probably won't encounter at a private school.

  • The Bottom Line

In a public school, you will make anywhere from $10-15,000 more per year than at a private school. Also, because the public school system is bigger than a private school, your health benefits will most likely also be better. It is up to you to weigh the other benefits to decide whether the additional money is worth it for you.

In the End

This is your decision. Do your research on the public and private schools in your area.  Get to know the student population, the administration, and the way teachers are treated.  In the end, you will make an informed decision on whether you want to teach in a private or public school.


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