In the United States, you pay for a private education, and a public education is available to anyone.
I started out at a private school at the age of 3 (pre-K), and really enjoyed it. I feel it provided me with a solid first experience of school. I started at a public school at the beginning of 6th grade, and have been there ever since. I look back and prefer the Private school because there is more attention given to a single student, education is taken more seriously, and everyone realizes and accepts the fact that they are there to get an education, not because the law requires them to be there. Stuff like that. At a public school, there's a huge pressure to seperate yourself, yet at the same time you do have to conform to what is normal if you don't want to be labeled as a loser, a fraction of the class takes education seriously, and the majority of my teachers feel they don't get paid enough, so they purposely make the class less quality than it should be.
Living in California, I wish I was at a Private school now more than ever. With all the budget cuts (seriously, what idiot decides educational budgets are the first to be cut?), public schools are suffering big time. My high school has laid off teachers which means 30-40 people in a single class, any elective with a class list of less than 25 people was cut for this upcoming new year, less of a class choice, no after school tutoring, and there are less buses. The less buses thing really sucks for some students because my school happens to be out in the middle of nowhere. The elementary schools in my district have shut down the libraries and after school programs because the state can't afford it. A school without libraries? So, it's in situations like this that Private schools are better. Having experienced both, I prefer private school.
Sierra High School (As you can see, even our website screams cheap):