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Reimagining Education

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Dispelling myths about private schools in Missouri

As schools and nonprofits deal with the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, systemic myths about private school education are resurfacing as part of the debate.

We wanted to help dispel some of those myths and share some of the conversations we have been having with private schools around the state.

Myth #1: Private schools are only for rich kids

This is probably the most prevalent myth about private schools and could not be further from the truth in Missouri.

The reality is that private schools serve a wide range of students, both urban and rural and rich and poor. There are some private schools that charge very high tuition and serve more affluent families.

But there are also many private schools that serve children in poverty and many that serve middle-class families.

While base private school tuitions in Missouri can range from $1,750 to $41,000 per year many students do not pay any tuition at all, instead attending private schools on scholarships or as part of a tithe based tuition plan.

Myth #2: Private schools are all religious

While many private schools are religious, there are also many independent private schools in Missouri that are not affiliated with any religious institution.

There is also a lot of variety in the faiths that religious private schools are associated with. In Missouri, we have Catholic schools (some of which are part of a larger school system and some that operate independently), Lutheran schools, Jewish schools, and Independent Christian schools just to name a few of the options open to families.

Myth #3: Private school teachers get paid a lot

Just as many people make the false assumption that you have to be rich to attend a private school, many people think that private school teachers and administrators are paid more than their public school counterparts.

“That is not the truth at all,” said Dr. James Shuls, Assistant Professor at the College of Education at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and program director for UMSL’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies programs. “On average private school teachers make less than traditional public school teachers.”

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