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Public versus Private Schools


PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Our friends at the US Census Bureau just reported that America's public schools showed a 4.4% increase in funding between Fiscal Year 2017 and the previous year, making it the largest annual boost since 2008. The per-pupil expenditure for the same time period increased 3.8%, to $12,214 per student.

With over 48 million children enrolled in Public Schools, we thought it would be interesting to do a mini-study that determines which cities use their public schools most;  i.e., what percentage of students attend public schools as opposed to private. We were able to do this using our brand new DataEngine, which you can get started with here.

CITIES WITH HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL

1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX -  97.4% Public,  2.6% Private
2. Fresno, CA - 95.5%, 4.5%
3. Bakersfield, CA - 95.4%, 4.6%
4. El Paso, TX - 95.4%, 4.6%
5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA - 94.3%, 5.7%
6. Stockton-Lodi, CA - 94.3%, 5.7%
7. Syracuse, NY - 93.5%, 6.5%
8. Salt Lake City, UT - 93.2%, 6.8%
9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ - 93.1%, 6.9%
10. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV - 93.0%, 7.0%

CITIES WITH LOWEST PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

1. New Orleans-Metairie, LA - 76.1% Public, 23.9% Private
2. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA - 79.5%, 20.5%
3. Honolulu, HI - 80.0%, 20.0%
4. Baton Rouge, LA - 80.5%, 19.5%
5. Philadelphia, PA - 80.6%, 19.4%
6. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI - 81.4%, 18.6%
7. Cleveland-Elyria, OH - 82.2%, 17.8%
8. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN  - 82.7%, 17.3%
9. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN - 82.9%, 17.1%
10. Montgomery County-Bucks County-Chester County, PA  - 83.0%, 17.0%

For complete rankings, click here. Note: For this top and bottom ten, we considered only the Top 100 cities in terms of population.

Whenever we crunch data like this, we look for a big takeaway or a headline-worthy conclusion. In other words, a story behind the data.

After determining which cities had the highest and lowest percentages of pupils in public school, we compared these figures with data points like Median Household Income, Religion Percent, and the BestPlaces School Score. (note: School Scores are not available for private schools due to a lack of standardized testing data).

So what was our big takeaway from this analysis? Actually, there wasn't one. There are different stories at play here and it depends on the city. Some cities might have great public schools where everyone feels comfortable sending their kids. In other cities, private schools are a more popular alternative. It likely depends on the mix of school scores, the local culture, the income level of the residents, and the strength or prevalence of religious based private schools.

Sometimes this happens. There isn't a clear answer. But we invite you to send us your insights and share your thoughts as to why residents in some cities might send their children to public schools instead of private schools, or vice versa.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts, and we'll share the most interesting ones with our readers in future newsletters.

This list used census data that is now easily accessible with our DataEngine. You can also download information on the Religion Percent and the BestPlaces School Scores with the new Data Downloads feature that's included for free as part of our Premium Content.

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