Count it among the saving graces of Twitter that one periodically overhears a snippet of conversation that opens an intriguing topic. Such was the case for me this morning when OSTPA retweeted Citizen Stewart’s assertion that public school teachers use private schools for their own children at a higher rate than the general public. The thread provides no source for the assertion, though somebody did ask.
So is it true? Yes, and it appears over many years and multiple sources. The most recent to come up quickly through an online search comes from EducationNext:
School teachers are much more likely to use a private school than are other parents. No less than 20% of teachers with school age children, but only 13% of non-teachers, have sent one or more of their children to private school. Teachers are also just as likely to make use of a charter school or to homeschool their child as other parents.
A 2004 Thomas B. Fordham Institute study found almost the exact same results: 20% for public school teachers versus 13% for the general public. Of course, public school teachers tend to be very well paid, so they’re significantly more likely to be able to afford private school. Indeed, the Fordham study found that teachers with household income between $42,000 per year and $84,000 per year were almost exactly as likely as their economic peers to utilize private schools.
This caveat only goes so far to mitigate the lesson, though. At the least, they’re still signaling that inside knowledge doesn’t undermine the general sense that private schools are preferable. Moreover, teachers with household income under $42,000 are about 50% more likely than their own peers to use private schools, suggesting that they do indeed know something everybody else doesn’t.
The Fordham study also looks regionally, at 50 urban areas. In the Providence-Fall River-Pawtucket region, 31.3% of public school teachers utilize private schools versus 16.5% of all families. That differential is the sixth biggest that Fordham found.