23 Mar INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
First of all let me go on record as saying that there are always exceptions to every rule. There are terrific public schools out there that “touch all the bases” and there are independent schools that sometimes “drop the ball.” That being said – why choose a private school in the first place?
Perhaps first we should get a fairly simple definition of the difference between the two – funding. Private schools do not receive government funding, and therefore almost always solely rely on tuition for support. Private (also known as independent, non-state, and non-governmental) schools are not administered by local, state or national governmental oversight bodies, so they have the freedom from government intervention, but also the burden of lack of taxation monies for support.
So you may say to yourself, “If I’m already paying taxes for public schools, why would I want to spend additional money for a private education?” Without getting into the “voucher controversy,” let’s just look at why hundreds of thousands of parents across the nation do that very thing each fall.
Perhaps the most attractive benefit of private schools to parents and students alike is that of not only an exceptional education but a challenging one, filled with educational and extracurricular activities normally not available to the masses in public schools. Private school students consistently score top marks on standardized tests and college entrance exams, and most schools have a 100 per cent rate of students attending the college or university of their choice. With college as a focus, students tend to be more goal oriented, therefore elements of the private school’s curriculum can be specifically aimed at preparing your child for college. Many private schools are even referred to as “college preparatory schools.”
Private schools also work to control class size. According to the NCES Schools and Staffing Survey, private high school classes, on average, were less than half the size of public school classes. Students of private schools may have more opportunities to form relationships with their teachers which can lead both the strong student and one who may be struggling in certain areas to achieve greater academic success.
Private schools have the ability, it seems, to build great communication lines between parents and administration making it a priority to involve parents in the “school community.” Frequent parent-teacher meetings plus numerous social events such as parent breakfasts, family camping weekends, fundraising initiatives, and other parent-child-school activities soon become an integral part of the child’s education.
Most private schools pride themselves in maintaining high standards for discipline and respect. Lower staff-to-student ratios allow for more effective observation and control of school grounds which greatly improves the quality of the child’s educational experience, achievement and safety. Even if your child does not have discipline problems, disruptive peers could take away from your child’s valuable learning time. The push for discipline in private schools teaches children self-control, which will ultimately be a requirement in college where the student will be far more responsible for his or her own attendance and achievement.
At private schools, one can usually expect to find more and better resources to support student learning in the classroom, sports field, art studio, and beyond. The tuition that you pay often will go toward developing and funding special programs that might be restricted in public schools. The school may be able to offer other activities such as special field trips that reinforce the school’s curriculum and also may create programs that better tie the arts or sciences into the overall general curriculum. Finding a school that matches your own perspective is more likely to create a positive, productive academic experience for your child. Choosing the right private school will not only allow your student to survive but to thrive in a supportive environment while gaining unique skills that fit their learning style.