Public versus private school — a study found just one factor can make all the difference.

Many parents who want the best education for their children turn to private schools, assuming they will lead their kids to greater success.

At first glance, some data appears to back up that notion. The National Association of Independent Schools and Gallup found that private schools tend to have a greater percentage of graduates going on to higher education, and also tend to attend selective colleges and universities. And a new study shows that overall, children who have attended private schools had better outcomes in nearly all assessed areas of adolescence.

For many parents, this prospect justifies spending thousands of dollars per year in private school tuition. They also bolster support for voucher systems, which distribute public education funds to parents to spend on private schools if they so choose.


Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

However, a recent study that showed better private school outcomes has a huge caveat.

When family wealth is factored out, the difference in private and public school outcomes disappears entirely.

Researchers at the University of Virginia found that when socioeconomic factors were controlled for in the study, all of the advantages of private school were negated. The study also found "no evidence to suggest that low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools benefited more from private school enrollment."

Kids from the same socioeconomic class have similar outcomes, whether they attend public school or private school. In other words, it's the ability to afford private school that makes the difference, not private school itself. Since private school attendees tend to come from wealthier families, they generally have better outcomes.

But money, not the educational approach or quality of instruction offered in private schools, appears to be the driving factor.

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

Parents choose private schools for diverse reasons, and choice is important. But not at the expense of public education.

Not all parents who choose to send their kids to private school do so for academic reasons. Some want their kids to have a religious element to their education. Some favor a specific educational philosophy that can only be found in a private school setting. Having a variety of educational options is a good thing.

However, if a parent feels compelled to send their kids to a private school over a public school for academic reasons, the data doesn't appear to be in their favor. And using such arguments to support voucher programs is disingenuous.

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos proposed an education budget in February that allocated $1 billion to private school vouchers and other school choice initiatives, and slashed $3.6 billion from the Department of Education. "So many of America's poorest children — especially African American and Hispanic children — attend failing public schools that afford them little hope of fulfilling their great potential," President Trump said in his budget summary.

But if our government's job is to make sure that children have equal access to quality education, we need more support for publicly funded neighborhood schools, not less. If private schools aren't proven to offer a better quality education, then taking money from public schools to provide private school vouchers doesn't make sense.

This data reinforces the fact that issues in our educational system largely stem from economic inequality.

Educational opportunity starts at home, and homes and communities that are struggling are automatically at a disadvantage. Though improving public schools is important, perhaps addressing economic inequality in general would do more for U.S. education than school choice programs or public education overhauls — and would ensure that more children reach their full potential.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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