The recent events at historic Saint Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire raise questions for those of us considering private school. The story was hard to miss as it seemed to air virtually non-stop for a week. Against that backdrop let's look at things from our parental perspective.
What are the odds of this happening in the school our children attend?
Probably not very likely at all. Statistically speaking, there are very few incidents such as this occurring in private schools annually. I searched carefully to see what I could find about private school scandals past and present. Honestly, there wasn't much out there, perhaps a handful or so of incidents annually. You can find the results of my search at the end of this article. The sensational coverage of the St. Paul's story tended to blow the incident way out of proportion in my opinion. I would think that the risk of similar events happening elsewhere is insignificant.
How could something like this happen in a private school which prides itself on 24/7 supervision of its students?
All private schools including Saint Paul's take their students' safety very seriously. In the case of boarding schools their responsibility extends to 24/7 supervision while the students are in residence on campus. With day schools things work a bit differently because school opens in the morning and dismisses at the end of the school day. As a result what happens in the late afternoon and evening is our parental
Vouchers have been a fact in American private school education since 1989 when the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 voucher programs have been set up. According to the American Federation for Children the following states now have some form of voucher program:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
What exactly are vouchers? The simplest definition is using public funds to pay for a private school education. Voucher programs take many forms and we will look at those later in this article.
How many students nationwide benefit from voucher programs? In 2014 approximately 308,000 students were recipients of some kind of tax dollars in voucher programs or variations thereof. That is 0.006% of the K-12 public school student population which was approximately 50 million at the beginning of the 2014 school year. The actual expenditure is in the millions of dollars which like the number of students in voucher programs is tiny.
What is the future of voucher programs? As of 2015 voucher programs are state-sponsored, state-managed and state-funded programs. Some politicians, however, would like to see federal funds used for voucher programs nationwide. Why? Because their constituents are disatisfied with underperforming public schools.
What does the public education community think about vouchers? Needless to say, voucher programs in all their forms and variations are complete anathema to the teachers unions and the supporters of public education. Why? Because
Many parents tend to dismiss the idea of sending their children to private school without exploring it in depth. Similarly many teachers flirt with the idea of teaching in a private school without delving into the matter deeply. Supporting your alma mater financially is another concept many alumni figure is somebody else's job. Of course, it isn't.
Send my child to private school?
You would want to send your child to private school for several reasons. The public schools in your area may not offer all the academic programs you want your child to have as she prepares for college a couple of years from now. The local public schools may have had to cut extracurricular activities because of financial constraints. You want your child to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. Sports programs may have been cut as well. Many school districts are struggling with their budgets and that impacts academics, extracurricular activities and athletic programs across the board. Those kinds of fiscal pressures make the extras problemmatic at best. Who wouldn't want their child to be in academic surroundings where anything is possible as this short video suggests. Making the decision to send your child to private school requires some serious analysis and discussion of your aims and objectives. When we were having that discussion, we had two concerns: 1) stretching out children academically as well as providing a range of extracurricular activities and sports and 2) providing adequate supervision after school and
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