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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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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"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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This table will help you see at a glance how private schools compare with public schools. Use it to explore issues and to help answer questions which you have about private schools. A list of resources with supporting data and information is given at the end of the table.
 
  Private Schools Public Schools
Administration Local school support staff manage the day to day operations. Local school and district layers of administrative staff support the day to day operations.
Admissions Selective. Students must meet whatever admissions standards are set. Students must meet residency and age requirements. Students are admitted without regard to academic ability.
Arts All kinds of arts programs are essential in a private school education. Orchestras, bands and choirs are part of the performing arts offerings. Fine arts and theater are also part of the program. Arts programs are generally considered extras in a public school budget. They are usually the first area of expense to be cut when savings must be found.
Class Size Private schools generally have small classes with 12-15 students the norm. Depending on the staffing in a local school public schools can have as many as 25-35 students per class.
Curriculum Private schools teach the subjects they wish to teach as well as meeting the state minimums. They use a variety of assessment methods to determine how a child is performing. Public schools must teach what
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Two television series about private schools have received a certain amount of buzz recently. Gossip Girl  airs on CWNYC Prep is on Bravo.
 
Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl is based on the novels of Cecily von Ziegesar.  Ms. von Ziegsar herself is a graduate of Nightingale-Bamford, a Manhattan girls' school. The Gossip Girl series made it to the best seller lists in 2002. It chronicles the lives and exploits of the wealthy teens attending The Constance Billard School for Girls. Gossip Girl premiered on CW in 2007.

What's to Like
 
The cinematography is fabulous. You will have plenty of New York City vistas, shops and restaurants, as well as those incredible Park Avenue apartments to soak up. HDTV makes it a breath-taking experience without doubt.
 
The fact that the show really does not depict what actually goes on in a fine old Manhattan girls' school. That's a good thing. Because we can only imagine what those poor teachers and administrators have to deal with on a daily basis. New York is a vibrant, exciting city, but it can be terribly rough and 'in your face'. It takes a very tough teacher to face some of those parents and children in a conference room discussing little Rebecca's failing grade in calculus, that's for sure.

The clothes. No American city does clothes better than New York. And these kids know how to wear those clothes. And where to wear them. Fashionistas will
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