Why Private School

A comprehensive look at private schools and why they might be right for your child. Explore the history of private school education, weigh the pros and cons of public vs. private school, and get valuable advice on making the best choice for your child. Learn more about the various types of private schools from military to progressive and review directories from a variety of resources including private school associations and offline publications.
View the most popular articles in Why Private School:
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...read more
Private schools have their own jargon just like any activity or affinity group has. Some of the terms which you will encounter come to us from England where private or public schools as they call them have been around for centuries. That's why you will see words you know with meaning you weren't expecting. 
 
Here are some of the more common terms you are likely to encounter as you explore private schools.
 
AD/ADHD
AD and ADHD are really the same thing: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. If your child exhibits any signs of ADHD, you should have him evaluated thoroughly. The syndrome is treatable. Several private schools do an outstanding job of teaching boys and girls with AD/ADHD.
 

Crew
Crew is the ancient sport of rowing. Rowing in shells is very popular in many private schools. Crew is offered in the fall and spring. Schools participate in regional and international competitions called regattas. Events like The Head of the Charles and Henley draw rowers from all over the world.

Dorm Master
If the term sounds a bit scary, it is actually quite the opposite. A dorm master is a teacher who is in charge of and supervises a residential house of boarding school students. He or she in many ways becomes a surrogate parent providing stability and guidance for the mercurial adolescents in his care. 
 

ESL
ESL is an acronym for English as a Second Language. When a student whose mother...read more
Athletic programs in private schools are an integral part of school life. They are not 'optional'. All students participate in some kind of athletic activity every week while school is in session. Most private schools set aside a weekday afternoon - generally Wednesday - for athletics. There are no classes. Everybody is involved in some athletic activity somewhere on campus. In boarding schools part of each Saturday is given over to sports as well. Throughout this article I have quoted from private school web sites so that you can get an idea of how private schools view competitive and recreatioal sports.
 
"Competitive or recreational sports at Putney are valued for fostering individual skills and strengths. Sports do not conflict with art activities, so there is no need to choose between one or the other."...The Putney School, Vermont
 
This is also a fundamental difference between private and public schools. I am not saying that sports in public schools are not important. It's simply that when money has to be trimmed from a public school budget it is often trimmed from the athletics budget. Why? Because the board would rather trim that expense than to lay off more teachers. It is a tough choice which most private schools don't have to make and will not make in most cases.
 
"The Gunnery's sports program cultivates competition and cooperation in the context of organized athletics. This is a tradition that stretches back, unbroken, to Mr. Gunn's era. A staunch advocate of physical fitness, he...read more
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....read more
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...read more
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Why Private School

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.

Kinds of Schools

Private schools are just as varied as public schools. From Catholic to progressive, military to special needs, private schools offer a lot of options. Take a comprehensive look into the many types of private schools, weigh the pros and cons of each, and get helpful tips on choosing one that works best for your child.

School Life

Get a glimpse of private school life. Here you'll find a survival guide for parents, brush up on terms and jargon, and learn why extracurricular activities are so important.

Directories

We offer several directories to aid in your choice of a private school. Included are quick links to national, regional and state associations, a list of offline resources to aid in our decision, and local school directories for several metropolitan areas.