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:
Michael Winerip's article on the cheating scandal in Philadelphia public schools underscores one of the intrinsic differences between public and private schools. Private schools do not have to teach to the test. Public schools do. That is as a result of The No Child Left Behind legislation which required that mininum test scores be attained, among other requirements. The consequences for not achieving the benchmarks are serious. The net result is that some unethical teachers and administrators are alleged to have cooked the books in the Philadelphia schools. And they got caught. A similar situation occurred in Atlanta's public schools
Private schools are not covered by NCLB. Consequently they do not have to teach to the test. So how are private schools held accountable? By you their customers. Parents and students. Simply put, if you are not satisfied with the job your private school is doing, you have the freedom to withdraw your child and put her in another school.
Private schools meet or exceed state academic standards.
The curriculum which each private school uses is chosen by the school. It is not dictated by the state or some other authority. The states generally require high school graduates to have a certain number of credits in core subject areas. But how those core subjects or any other subjects are taught is entirely up to the school. (That's why it is so important for you to choose a school whose teaching methods and curriculum most closely
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You would think that education in the United States has been public since colonials days. Not so. The earliest schools were private and religious schools. Only in the mid 19th century did governments begin to compel children to attend school. Public school. Here then is a brief timeline of private K-12 education through the years.
143 b.c. Chengdu Shishi High School was established in China.
69 Quintillian founded his school of rhetoric.
597 The King's School, Canterbury, England was established. It has the distinction of being the oldest private school in the world still operating.
1628 Collegiate School was founded in Manhattan, New York, USA. It is the oldest private school in America still extant and operating.
1799 Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi starts a school for orphans in Burgdorf. His writings on education inspired the study of pedagogy.
1809 Johann Friedrich Herbart establishes pedagogy as an discipline at the university at Gottingen.
1837 Friedrich Froebel creates Kindergarten or the Children's Garden. Kindergarten is the traditional first year of primary or elementary education for children in the United States.
1848 Stephen Girard's estate establishes Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for poor, white, fatherless boys.
1874 The German Saturday School Boston was founded thereby established the first foreign language school in the U.S.
1887 The will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop founds and endows the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. Mrs. Bishop was the last direct descendant of Hawaii's royal family. She directed that the schools educate free of charge indigenous children of the Hawaiian islands.
1896 John Dewey establishes The Laboratory Schools in Chicago, Illinois, and thus begins the
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The purpose of this article is not to cast blame. Instead, I want to highlight the disturbing trend which many of us have heard and read about, namely, that enrollment in American Catholic schools has declined severely over the past 50 years.
The following is quoted directly from the National Catholic Education Association's Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment and Staffing.
 "U. S. Catholic school enrollment reached its peak during the early 1960s when there were more than 5.2 million students in almost thirteen thousand schools across the nation. The 1970s and 1980s saw a steep decline in both the number of schools and students.  By 1990, there were approximately 2.5 million students in 8,719 schools.   From the mid 1990s though 2000, there was a steady enrollment increase (1.3%) despite continued closings of schools.  
Between the 2000 and the 2011 school years, 1,755 schools were reported closed or consolidated (21.5%). The number of students declined by 587,166 (22.1 %).  The most seriously impacted have been elementary schools."
Personally, it saddens me to see any private school in decline. It's even worse to discover that schools have closed. But the sheer magnitude of  these numbers is just plain scary. Let's examine some of the reasons why Catholic education finds itself in this state.
The Economy
The economy is a major factor. The Great Recession of 2008 has cost millions of people their jobs. If parents have to struggle just to make ends meet, a private school education becomes unaffordable. And
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If you are new to the school where you child has just been accepted, you may think that the school functions like a well-oiled machine with little help from outside. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your help and support as a parent is essential and, indeed, expected. Let's look at some ways in which we parents can contribute time, talent and treasure to our children's schools.
1. Support your school financially.
Depending on where you live and what your schedule is like , supporting the school financially may be all that you can do. If you have the means to make a significant gift, then contact the development office to see how best to use your munificence. Leadership gifts are critical to any school's fund raising success. In any case give what you can. Gifts from parents are an important source of funding for most private schools.
2. Be a class parent.
Primary schools in particular will appreciate help with all sorts of things. You will be worth your weight in gold if you are the kind of parent who simply does what she is asked to do faithfully and without interfering with the teacher or children. Communicating with the other parents and getting them organized to do whatever the class needs done is part of the role of the ideal class parent. Chaperoning field trips and walks might also be part of your volunteer work. Class parents are especially important these days because so many parents work. If you can help
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"Honey! They want me to run the Berlin office. It's a great promotion. They want us there in two months." After congratulating your wife on her thrilling new assignment, reality sets in as you wonder what your children's new school will be like. Your wife's overseas assignment has many perks, one of them being the paying of your children's educational expenses at private school while you are abroad. Let's explore what's involved in educating your children overseas.

International Schools

International schools can be found in just about every major city outside the United States. These are schools which offer instruction in English as well as the usual kind of college preparatory curriculum you'd expect to find in an American high school, public or private. Advanced Placement courses or International Baccalaureate programs will generally be available.

In many major cities which have a lot of Americans you will even find so-called American schools. Your children will almost feel as though you never left home. Whether you choose to expose your children to a true international school with children from all over the world as well as a few local children or decide that sticking with an American school is best is a decision you will have to make based on what you feel is best for your children.

There are several sites you can use to research schools. For example, using our hypothetical transfer to Berlin, a search of the Council on
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Recent Articles
November 24, 2015
Many parents search for an answer to the question "How do I provide the kind of religious education I want for my child?" Religious education is a very personal, subjective matter. We explore some of your options.
November 19, 2015
Myths, urban legends and just plain misinformation abound concerning private schools. We shed some light on the facts you may not have known.
October 04, 2015
This A-Z list is designed to make you aware of the many things involved in choosing the right school for your child.
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.


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.