Michael Strong, a serial founder of charter schools, has written a concise blueprint to educate a child for less than $3,000 per year. It’s worth your time. I found it through Isegoria’s posts on the essay.
I managed to hit all three of his performance metrics in a conventional private school that cost much more than that, and I’m confident that his method is many multiples better than anything I’ve seen a contemporary private school teach.
The other key that parents should keep in mind is that plenty of private schools have a student body that’s morally dissolute — and we should expect that dissolution to be much worse in the next generation. The high cost is also a major factor.
A year at a top high school for most middle class families who won’t qualify for financial aid often exceeds $40,000 per year. That’s more than enough to seed a business or just to maintain the family assets. It also means that your kid will be associated with a lot of high-achieving dope smokers, sluts, and irredeemable nerds whose parents can afford tuition.
What’s key is in teaching superior skills in reading, writing, arithmetic, and some sort of practical art with real world value. The cost comes from hiring expert tutorial help, which should be within the range of anyone earning a lower middle class household income or better:
Twenty-five dollars an hour buys an excellent tutor (or academic coach) in most parts of the country. Many graduate students or retired people would be glad to teach a well-behaved, motivated young person for $25 per hour. Two days of mathematics coaching would thus be $50 per week; another two days of humanities (reading, writing, and conversation) coaching would be another $50 per week. At one hundred dollars per week one can buy thirty weeks per year of personalized academic coaching for $3,000.
Whether it requires more or less than this to educate your child depends on his or her motivation, your own skill set and time, and your local talent pool. Your child might need more hours of contact time per week, you may be able to supplement tutors so that your child needs less contact time, you may find great people willing to tutor for less, etc. In an alternative model, the parents may provide 100% of the instruction until secondary school, at which point you could budget more than $6,000 per year for custom secondary instruction.
By means of creating joint lessons with other home-schoolers with children interested in similar subjects, you could hire tutors for small “classes” of students and share the costs. Thus if there were four students engaged in a given set of lessons/tutoring sessions your $3,000 would stretch to four times as many contact hours. Indeed, in some cases these informal tutoring arrangements can result in the creation of a “private school.” The point is not whether or not it is a school – it is whether or not your child is getting first-class, personal attention from a talented and caring educator who knows and loves their academic subject.
The more fundamental point is that by means of focusing on truly essential core behavioral characteristics, such as responsibility, motivation, politeness, etc., and on very high-level core academic skills, including serious reading, writing, and mathematics advancement, it is possible to provide a superb education for your child at home for very little cost.
To the extent that we still have the liberty to provide this sort of education to our children, we ought to use it as much as we can.