STRUCTURE OF AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Our primary educational institution is the formal school, from kindergarten to graduate school. Our general belief has been that “more’ is better.” The proportion of people attending some kind of school has grown steadily, while the school career has been lengthened from both ends. Kindergartens are still growing, with 96 percent” of all 5-year-olds attending in 1980. Six out of seven Americans between ages ~5 and 29 had completed high school by 1980, while almost half of those between 30 and 34 had attended college, and over onefourth had been graduated. While the public school dominates American
education, private (most often Catholic) schools enrolled 12 percent of elementary school and 10 percent of secondary school pupils, while’ private colleges enrolled 21 perce.nt of all college students in 1980, During recent years, the private-school share declined somewhat at elementary and secondary levels, The number of students attending private colleges -has held constant, but the proportion of college students in private colleges has dropped from 33 percent in 1965 to 21 percent in 1980.. The 1970s saw an increase in schools conductor Protestant fundamentalist groups”lily called Christian schools. They enroll only about 1 percent of the total students in college education, but their enrollment from 140,000 in 1971 to 450,000 in 1979. They are open to all races,’ but they attract few black students, and one of their major effects has been to provide <In escape from integration. However, they also appeal on the grounds of strict discipline, Christian teaching and hive her academic standards
The question of whether private .chools are superior to public schools has been debated or generations, One careful study of Catholic private schools some years ago could not substantiate either the special virtues or the special disabilities often.claimed-j Creeley and Rossi, 1%6J. A more recent comparison covering over 1,000 public and private schools, concluded that pupils learned more in the. private schools, even after allowing for differences in family background [Coleman, 1981; Coleman, Hoffer, and Kilgore, 19~21. It attributed this to better discipline and more demanding academic standards in the private schools. One unmeasured factor, however, is the private schools’ right to exclude the student who is disruptive or whose parents are uncooperative.