Differences in curriculum, funding prompts students to switch between the two

By Ellise Shafer, ’17

Wellington junior Danny Callanan has switched back and forth between public and private schools all his life. He started at Wellington, where he stayed until sixth grade, when he decided to transfer into the Upper Arlington School District. As of early Sept., Callanan has made the switch to Wellington once again, leaving the friends that he survived adolescence with behind.

That being said, with Callanan’s departure, a question has arisen among students: Why the change, and are public and private schools really that different?

According to Dan Dodd, Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Independent Schools, there are significant differences between public and private schools.

“Speaking for independent [private] schools, one of the largest differences between public schools and independent schools is with whom the decision-making authority rests,” Dodd said. “For public schools, elected officials and government bureaucrats make decisions on what is taught and who is teaching it, whereas heads of school, hired by boards of trustees consisting of parents and school supporters, make decisions at independent schools.”

For both public and private schools, these decisions include what is taught in the curriculum, such as religion and certain elective classes, as well as which after-school programs should be offered at the school. However, at a public school, the school district makes these choices, whereas at a private school it is a much smaller group of board members.

Another notable difference- besides the uniforms- is how public and private schools are funded.

“Public schools are obviously funded through public monies,” Upper Arlington High School Principal Andrew Theado said. “Private schools are not funded that way; there is a tuition involved. Depending on the school, it can be anywhere from $21,000 down to $7,000 or less per year.”

It was this cost that played a factor in Callanan’s decision to switch to Jones Middle School after spending kindergarten through fifth grade at Wellington.

“I transferred to UA after 5th grade because the cost was pretty outrageous,” Callanan said.

However, this year his preference of Wellington’s education overrode the cost, and Callanan decided to return.

“I like the education more [at Wellington],” Callanan said. “The classes are smaller and less strict. You have 80-minute classes, and only four classes each day, which makes your classes every other day and therefore not as repetitive. You also [are able to] know all the teachers and students.”

On the other hand, senior Anisah Awad, who attended private Columbus School for Girls (CSG) until the seventh grade, prefers the education she has received at UAHS.

“I think that Upper Arlington,ultimately, has prepared me for college and the real world a little bit more,” Awad said.

However, she does look back on her CSG days fondly.

“I loved CSG. I mean, every year you have a class full of not even 20 girls and it’s very- I don’t know how to describe it- the education is very one-on-one a lot of the times; they’ll pull you aside and help you with stuff if you’re struggling,” Awad said. “[CSG] has so much time to contour the education towards all the girls and what they get and what they don’t get. I thought it was amazing because everyone always jumps at the opportunity to answer a question, which does not happen here at all. At CSG, you would fight to get the first response.”

Although Awad praises CSG for its academics, she cites Upper Arlington’s community feel as a factor in her choice between the two schools.

“CSG does encompass you more in an academic bubble, whereas UA is more of a socio-economic bubble,” Awad said. “I love seeing all the girls that I used to go to [CSG] with on Twitter and Instagram and stuff because a lot of them really don’t know how to function in the real world, especially attending an all-girls school in high school- I don’t know what they’re going to do in college.”

Callanan agrees with Awad, saying that UA’s social atmosphere has been hard to leave.

“The social life at UA is ten times better [than at Wellington],” Callanan said. “Going to school at UA was an entirely new experience [compared to Wellington]. I met tons of people and made a lot of friends [at UA].”

However, despite the stereotype that private school students are more appealing to colleges, both Dodd and Theado believe that there is no preference when it comes to college admissions.

“Colleges look at the body of work of each applicant and the profile of each school when an applicant submits an application,” Dodd said. “There are many high-performing public schools, Upper Arlington being one of them, that I am sure are thought of as highly by college admissions staff as many private schools. The student’s body of work, the academic rigor of the school, the classes taken by the student and their community involvement are going to be the primary factors considered by college admissions departments.”

That being said, if between attending a public or private school, use learning style as a key factor in your decision, because chances are success will be found either way.

“Colleges recognize that there are schools that are doing great things,” Theado said. “[These schools] may be private-but they also may be public.”