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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Updated   May 25, 2017 |
A Timeline of Private School Events and History
What was the first private school? What's the oldest school? What are some of the educational philosophies commonly found? Some answers here.

You would think that education in the United States has been public since colonial days. But that is not the case. The earliest schools were private and religious schools. Only in the mid 19th century did governments begin to compel children to attend K-12 public schools. 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.
69Marcus Fabius Quintillianus founded his school of rhetoric in Rome, Italy. Quintillian was a native of Caligurris in Hispania. Among his pupils were Pliny the Younger and the historian Tacitus. Quintillian wrote a 12 volume treatise on rhetoric, Institutio Oratoria, which is considered even in modern times a foundational document on education.
597The King's School, Canterbury, England was established. It has the distinction of being the oldest private school in the world still operating.
1441King's College Choir School, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was founded by King Henry VI for the purpose of educating the boy choristers of the King's College Chapel Choir. The Choir School has been in more or less continuous existence ever since.
1572Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, United Kingdom, opens. The rivalry between Eton and Harrow is rather like that between Exeter and Andover. Perhaps it's best just to say that the four schools represent the acme of boarding schools and leave it at that. Queen Elizabeth granted the charter to a farmer to establish this school in the 16th century. Stuffy and
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Updated   April 06, 2016 |
What's Happened to Catholic Education?
Schools are closing. Student populations declining. Why? Here are some answers.

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."

This short video gives us an overview of the issue.

 

Personally, it saddens me to see any private school in decline. It is 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 has been a major factor in the decline of the number

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Updated   March 29, 2016 |
Being an Expat and Educating Your Children Abroad
If you have the chance to move overseas, don't worry about educating your children. You have several options.

"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 you will do about your children's education. Will they be able to attend a school with classes taught in English? Will the curriculum follow American standards or foreign ones?

Relax. Your wife's overseas assignment has many perks, one of which is that her employer will pay for your children's educational expenses at a private school while you are abroad. Your children will be taught in English to international standards. Of course, if you prefer to have them attend schools where they will be taught in a foreign language, that will be an option. Most expats keep things simple and have their children attend international schools with classes mostly in English. Let's explore what's involved in educating your children overseas.

International Schools

You can find international schools in just about every major city outside the United States. International schools are schools which offer instruction in English, as well as the usual kind of college preparatory curriculum you would expect to find in an American high school, public or private.  International schools offer Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate programs. This video offers us a glimpse of what the Berlin Brandenburg International School offers.

In many major cities which have a lot of Americans, you will even find so-called American schools.

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Updated   May 25, 2017 |
Private and Public Schools Compared
How many students attend private school? What are some of the main differences between these two modes of K-12 education? This table sets out the basic characteristics of private and public schools so that you can compare them.
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 SchoolsPublic Schools
AdministrationThe local support staff manage the day to day operations of each private school. Most private schools are stand-alone entities responsible for their own fund-raising and all other aspects of running their businesses.Local school and district layers of administrative staff support the day to day operations of all schools within a specific school district.
AdmissionsSelective. Students must meet whatever admissions standards are set. These standards focus on the candidate's ability to do the academic work as well as other factors.Students must meet residency and age requirements. Students are admitted without regard to academic ability.
ArtsAll kinds of arts programs are essential components of a private school education. You will find orchestras, bands and choirs as part of the performing arts offerings. Fine arts and theater are also part of most programs.Arts programs are generally considered extras in a public school budget. They are usually one of the first areas of expense to be cut when savings must be found in budgets.
CensusApproximately 4.9 million students were projected to attend private K-12
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Updated   June 13, 2016 |
Two television series about private schools received a certain amount of buzz. Gossip Girl aired on CW. NYC Prep was on Bravo.
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 find
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Recent Articles
January 22, 2018
Part of the private school selection process is financial aid. We point out five issues about which you should be aware.
January 22, 2018
Changes to the Tax Code in late 2017 included the addition of saving for K-12 private school education to 529 plans. We take a look at what this means for families thinking about private school for their children.
January 22, 2018
Depending on their family circumstances, our Presidents received a wide range of primary and secondary schooling.
Why Private School

ABOUT PRIVATE SCHOOLS