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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The answer to that questions hangs on whether you look at statistics or community. Having 10% of your student population from a certain ethnic group does not necessarily mean a diverse school community. Diversity is more than numbers and statistics. Diversity is an attitude.

Teaching children to be tolerant and accepting of people and views which are different from their own is a huge task. It requires teamwork. Parents, administration and teachers set the tone. Nothing will be accomplished without the cooperation of these three groups.

Teaching children to be tolerant means getting involved and setting the right kind of example. Getting involved is not the same as sitting on the sidelines and observing what children are saying and doing. Getting involved means addressing issues of tolerance and diversity in the home and in the classroom.

The Past
Decades ago private schools were infamous for being elitist and exclusive. If you were Jewish or if your skin color was something other than white, you probably were not going to be admitted to a private school if you even dared to apply. Fortunately that has changed. Private schools have come to understand their leadership role in creating an inclusive, accepting community of students, teachers, staff and parents. Now the push is on to heighten that understanding of others and how they live with many fine initiatives such as The Institute for Student Leaders sponsored by NAIS. Private schools are proud of their diversity which truly is fact and . . .read more
What's private school really like? Find out from people who have been there. Lorene Cary's Black Ice makes compelling reading. She was one of the first African-Americans to attend an elite private school. It was a different world from the one she grew up in back in Philadelphia. The classic novel is J.D.Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. As fresh today as it was when written back in 1951, Catcher opens on Holden's last day in prep school. Fast forward a few years and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep sits atop the New York Times Best Seller List. These books are well worth a read. Enjoy!

 

Academy X by Andrew Trees
ISBN-13: 978-1596911772

Black Ice By Lorene Cary
ISBN-13: 978-0679737452

Casualties of Privilege: Essays on Prep Schools' Hidden Culture  by Louis Crosier
ISBN-13: 78-0962767104 

 

 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
ISBN-13: 978-0316769174

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
ISBN-13: 978-0545162074

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
ISBN-13: 978-0812972351

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
ISBN-13: 978-0743253970

Saving Miss Oliver's by Stephen Davenport
ISBN-13: 978-0976925521

 

What do Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Alec Baldwin, Greer Garson, Rodney Dangerfield, Sean Connery, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton and George C. Scott all have in common? They have made movies set in private schools.
 
There are several classic movies which are set in private schools. Aside from lovely shots of manicured campuses and grand buildings, most of these films don't represent private schools accurately. But then, that was not their intent.

For example, the Harry Potter series gives a romanticized view of life in an English boarding school. The dining hall and faculty gowns still exist in many English schools. Everything else is delightful fantasy. Goodbye Mr. Chips! is a two tissue tear jerker. Dead Poets Society always leaves a lump in your throat. School Ties shows the kind of nasty prejudice which was the norm way back when.
 
Hollywood tends to view private schools the way media does in general. It plays private schools as bastions of privilege and wealth. Military schools are an easy backdrop for shoot 'em ups. In any case there is much more to private schools than those themes. Here are a few titles to add to your collection.

The List
Private schools are non-public schools. In other words they are not part of the public education system.  While private schools are regulated in the same way most businesses are with respect to safety, zoning and registration, they are not required to do many of the things public schools must do such as state testing and accepting any student who applies.

The technical definition of a private school 
The State of Wisconsin offers a typical look at private schools from the regulators' perspective: "The statutory definition of a 'private school' allows for some variation in curriculum and organizational structure. However, numerous state statutes and administrative rules affect how a private school can administer curriculum, employee regulations and protections, student health services, facilities, enrollment reports, pupil records, special education, and transportation."
 
Private schools are regulated but independent
While private schools are subject to all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations governing the business side of things, the essence of a private school which is its curriculum and how it chooses to teach that curriculum is essentially in the school's hands. That's why you will find so many reilgious schools emphasizing their religious instruction. And they can do that with impunity because they are private.
 
Tax status of private schools
Most private schools are incorporated as non-profit entities with the specific purpose of operating a school covering specified grades. Most private schools have been given tax-exempt status by the IRS under 501 (c) (3) of the tax code.

Funding . . .read more
An independent school receives no public funds. Tuition fees and gifts are the only source of an independent school's funding.
 
Generally its board or trustees is detached from and independent from any other organization. For example, many parochial and religious schools are subsets of a parent governing body. While they may be deemed 'private' schools, they are not independent schools per se.

A private school is a school which is funded by non-public monies. In other words no government funding or other tax-payer funds are used to sustain the school's operations. If the school is incorprated and established as a 501 (c) (3) entity, it will generally not be liable for local and state taxes. In that sense a private school is subsidized by the public treasury. For this reason many private schools consider it politic and prudent to pay property taxes, sewer taxes and other local taxes to ensure that the local services such as fire, police and emergency first responders are available when needed.

A country day school is a nice name for a private day school set on some beautiful treed acreage. That's right. It is really nothing more than a marketing term.

A parochial school is a type of private school. Generally parochial schools are attached to a church or other religious institution. That institution usually subsidizes the operations of the school as part of its ministry. A parochial school is usally governed by individuals selected by the religious institution. In the Roman . . .read more
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