Public, Private, Homeschool, Oh My! How to Decide On an Education That’s Right 4 Your Kids -

Public, Private, Homeschool, Oh My! How to Decide On an Education That’s Right 4 Your Kids

As parents we are constantly making decisions that impact our kids’ future.  One of the biggest decisions we make is deciding what type of education to provide them.  Today it seems like there are more educational choices than ever.  Iowa for the most part has a strong public education system, has several private school options and supports homeschoolers.  What’s the right educational fit for your family?

Public Schools

Public schools are funded by the government, through taxes and provide “free” education for children of a community or district.  They are run by local school boards who report to the Iowa Department of Education. They provide equal opportunity to education for all residents.


  • Neighborhood schools are normally close to home and bus transportation is provided for students beyond walking distance.
  • Your child gets to attend school with neighborhood friends, which support a sense of community.
  • Public schools do not charge tuition.
  • Public schools are required to serve your family without regard to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, national origin, or source of income.
  • There are before and after school programs that your child can join.
  • There are extra-curricular activities available such as band, sports and theater programs.
  • Teachers are certified as required by the state.
  • Public schools are overseen and accountable to the state.


  • As a public school, there are risks associated with political agendas and funding.
  • Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on standardized tests.
  • There are limited school choices because most students must attend the school within their district.
  • Under-funded schools may not have the supplies and materials they need or programs can be cut.
  • Classrooms are often filled to maximum capacity.
  • Both gifted and struggling students might get lost in the shuffle.
  • Parent involvement and values can vary widely.
  • Public schools are overseen and accountable to the state.

Private Schools

Private schools are supported by private organizations or individuals rather than by the government.  Private schools are governed by their own set of standards. These rules may be established by a local board or may be imposed from a national organization or religious denomination.  Tuition is charged to cover the costs of the education.  There is often financial aid or other assistance available for families.


  • Private schools usually have smaller class sizes.
  • Participation and enrollment is by choice.
  • Private schools aren’t dependent on the state for funding and oversight.
  • Private schools compete with public schools, which should help to increase their accountability.
  • There is usually a high-level of parent participation at private schools.
  • Private schools may tend to attract like-minded families, making social interaction with others easier.
  • Most private schools are religiously based.


  • Private schools require parents to pay tuition for their children to attend.
  • Teachers are typically paid less than at public schools and may not be required to have state certification.
  • May not be an option for lower-income families.
  • The student population may not be as diverse as in a public-school setting.
  • Special education classes may not be available.
  • Must meet minimal state standards.  However, can be accredited through the state or an independent accredting agency.
  • Often there is no bus service.
  • Sports, music and other extracurricular activities may not be offered.
  • Most private schools are religiously based.


Parents have the right to educate children at home in the state of Iowa.  There are legal accountability requirements and state education standards that must be met.  Home school is difficult to define because it can take on many different forms. Some home school families literally create their own curriculum and find nontraditional means to educate their children.


  • Homeschooling provides educational freedom. Curriculums can be tailored to your child’s needs.
  • Creates strong family ties and increased “face time” with your kids.
  • Many parents feel that homeschooling provides them with the opportunity to incorporate their values and beliefs into their child’s learning on a daily basis.
  • Homeschooled kids don’t have to worry as much about bullying and peer pressure so they may have more emotional stability.
  • There is schedule flexibility. Homeschoolers can accomplish in a few hours each day what typically takes a week or more to complete in a classroom setting. Families can schedule off-season vacations and are not bound to the typical school year cycle.


  • Homeschooling is very time consuming. Parents spend a great deal of time planning and driving kids to and from activities and participating in them.
  • In order to homeschool, one parent usually forgoes full-time employment, which can hurt the family’s finances.
  • Increased expenses can be incurred depending on curriculum, activities and extra-curricular options families choose.
  • Students may not be exposed to “expert” teachers.
  • Homeschoolers have limited access to extracurricular activities. However, many can participate within the local school district or some homeschoolers have organized to create their own programs.
  • Many people have a negative view of homeschooling and it is not uncommon, even for friends and family, to criticize those who choose to homeschool their kids.


What’s the right education for your kids?

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