About Private Schools

An in depth look at private schools, including history, a comparison to public education, and a glimpse of what's being taught. Learn about the benefits of attending private school, to both students and parents. Explore private schools options when living abroad, and debunk many of the myths regarding private school education.
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When critics inveigh against private schools, they tend to pick on issues such as the following.

Everybody's Rich
 Actually if you look at the beginnings of most private schools, you will discover that their original clientele were not children from wealthy families. Many of the founders of schools back in colonial times - the Phillips family, for example - saw education as the way forward for the infant democracy which was the United States. In order for the nation to survive it needed a literate, educated, proficient population. European crusaders like Dr. Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner - the founder of the Waldorf Schools movement - began their work among the poor and working classes. Their teachings captured the imagination of American middle and upper classes when their movements spread to the United States.
 
Over time as the schools expanded, they became highly prized for what they accomplished so very well, namely providing an excellent academic education, combined with sports and solid core values. Market forces conspired to drive the cost of education up. Social forces conspired to make private schools the place where the elite sent their children. In the 21st century egalitarian ideas once more have the upper hand. Private schools seek out and encourage applicants from every social and economic strata. Diversity rules. Not everybody who attends private school is rich.
 
Compulsory Sports
What's not to like about sports? Schooling throughout the centuries has always had a physical education component. Think Olympics. The ancient Romans had...
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One of the most compelling arguments for private education has to do with curriculum. Because very few private schools accept public funds, they are not required to comply with federal and state rules and reguations regading what is taught. In other words, they do not have to teach to the test. George Bush's No Child Left Behind does not apply to private schools.
 
Private schools use a variety of curricula according to their mission and needs. For example, a Jewish day school will blend Judaic studies in with a core curriculum designed to accomplish two things: to raise observant Jews who are well-schooled in their religion as well as producing well-prepared matriculants ready for the rigors of a college education.

A Classical Christian education will emphasize traditional subjects such as rhetoric.It  will also infuse every aspect of its teaching with evangelistic fire and purpose. Religion in a Classical Christian school is not an option any more than it is in a Muslim or Jewish or Roman Catholic school. All these schools can take valuable teaching time to accomplish their missionary objectives because they take no state funds. They basically can march to their own pedagalogical tune as long as their clientele is satisfied that the school is doing a good job.

What about prep schools? Religion for most prep schools is merely one more subject offering on the curriculum menu. That does not mean that religion and spiritual values are not taught....
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Schools handle student computing in a variety of ways. Some schools require you to purchase a laptop or tablet as part of their supplies or book fees. Others supply computers for their students. Still others have computers in classrooms and libraries for their students to use. What's going on here? Can't I just go online and buy the laptop I want? Generally speaking the answer is  "No!"

That's because schools try to standardize the kind of laptop used. It makes support and configuration issues much, much easier for the IT staff.

For example, here's what The Hotchkiss School has to say about the issue: 

"Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, The Hotchkiss School will issue Macbook computers to all incoming Preps and Lower Mids. Returning Lower Mids will be re-issued the same computer they used the previous school year. Each student will use the computer during the school year throughout his or her career at Hotchkiss. "

Handheld devices such as iPads and Android tablets are permitted in many schools. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) makes great sense on so many levels because the devices are so common and relatively inexpensive. Indeed handhelds are rapidly replacing desktop computers as one can see from declining desktop sales.

Integrating a variety of handheld devices into the classroom presents a variety of challenges for most schools. First off, the network environment has to be secure. That requires significant expenditures on the backend to ensure that every...
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There are a lot of misconceptions about private schools. This is probably because private schools are indeed private. But unfortunately it has more to do with the reality that many journalists do not understand private schools. On the couple of occasions when I have been interviewed about private schools the interviewers asked very pointed questions designed to support their preconceived notions that private schools were only for rich kids or kids with issues. They were always surprised when I refuted those kinds of leading questions with facts. With that experience in mind here are some common myths together with the reasons why they are simply that: myths.
 
Myth #10: Private school teachers make less than public school teachers.
 
Not true. This might have been the case years ago. Private school teachers are not unionized. However, they do enjoy some perks public school teachers do not have such as housing, meals and reduced or free tuition for their children. But, as a rule, compensation is about the same in both sectors. The real disparity seems to occur within private schools themselves. For example, most parochial or religious schools tend to offer compensation which is on the low end of the scale.
 
Administrators are not unionized either. Deans, admissions directors, development directors, business officers and heads of school are generally paid competitively. You can research the facts by examining not for profit schools' Form 990 which has to be filed annually.
 
Myth #9: Private schools are for rich kids or kids with behavior problems.
 
Many private...
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Many famous people have attended private schools. Here is a sampling of schools and the famous folk who graced their hallowed halls.

 

 

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