A lot can be said about the academic impact of family/parental support. A lot can also be said about how the classroom and school atmosphere can impact a child's academic performance. Little Johnny comes from a family that really values education. His family struggles financially, so he goes to a rough, inner-city school. In his classes are many (mostly?) students who have difficult home lives and whose academics aren't very supported by their families. They act out at school and have no consequences at home. At home they are more likely to witness or experience domestic violence; they may be more likely to act out violence at school because of it. They may be hungry, wear dirty clothes, have shoes that don't fit, and need glasses. They are probably behind academically. Little Johnny struggles to be successful at school because he is surrounded by kids who make it difficult for him to learn and for his teacher to teach. Little Johnny switches to a private school where 60% of the students do not come from a culture of poverty. Most of the class has supportive home environments and caring adults in their lives. His classroom atmosphere is less chaotic. There may be some behavior problems, but they are likely fewer and less severe. Little Johnny, with his drive and family support, is likely going to perform better in this environment than at his zoned school. There are fewer roadblocks in his way. I think that private schools are valuable and a good option for families that want to send their kids to them. I think that they often seem "better" than public schools because they have a different clientele and can get away with having different, often higher, expectations for their students and their families. Private schools can require parents to volunteer at school, kick kids out for underperformance or behavior issues, and limit class sizes, none of which can be required at a public school (except maybe the limit on class sizes). I know that there are great teachers at private schools, as there are great teachers at public schools. It's all the other factors that create a frustrating disparity, comparing apples to carburetors, making it seem like public teachers must be absolutely terrible at their job when really they are just contending with many, many serious issues far beyond their control.