Exploring School Options: Private vs. Public
As you explore your school options, ask yourself: what do I want from my child’s school experience? What does my child need from his or her teachers and school community? What is the goal of my child's education? I bet you didn’t answer, “I hope my child adequately meets the state’s core curriculum standards in an overcrowded school where no one has the time to get to know him well." Or, "The goal is just to graduate so she can say that she did.”
As the quality of instruction and per-pupil spending have decreased and class sizes have ballooned in public schools, independent schools are demonstrating that they can be better suited to meet the individual needs of their students, leading to better long-term outcomes for your children.
Here are seven reasons why you should consider private school:
1. Independence in the Truest Sense of the Word
Private schools are governed by a Board of Trustees, not local or state school boards. Independent schools, especially those with a fresh, innovative model, are able to be more responsive to each child’s needs, free from government mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing. This allows private schools to be truly student-centered and customize the learning experiences for each child in ways public schools cannot.
2. Teachers Who Are Committed
Every teacher cares about their students, just to different degrees. One challenge parents often face in public schools are teachers who are not engaged. Private schools, because they are not bound by district hiring practices and union regulations, are able to hire the best and brightest teachers who are committed to the school’s mission and providing an optimal education for every one of their students. The ability to hire and retain teachers based on performance ensures students work with faculty who are committed to their growth, learning and developing their unique talents.
3. Mission-Based Education
Every independent school has a unique mission with articulated values and areas of focus. These guiding principles and values extend beyond academics and can include a focus on the arts, creative expression, character education, civic engagement, and more. These different beliefs and areas of focus allow parents to choose schools that are aligned to their own beliefs, what they value for their children, and what their children are passionate about.
4. An Engaged Community
Every school works best when the students, teachers, and parents are all working toward a common goal. At an independent school, the members of the community have actively chosen to be part of an education at that particular school. Parents have an important stake in supporting the school and can actively engage in their student’s education. The staff and teachers at the school understand that this builds and enhances the school community, and they want and value parental participation and a well-connected school community.
5. Larger Academic Curriculum
The very essence of school is to guide students towards a more fulfilling life. Private schools tend to have a wider array of classes because they have more flexibility and funding and can allocate those resources as they see fit. Thus, you find that independent schools have a broader offering in terms of academic classes, as well as elective and after-school offerings. Additionally, you see independent schools investing in, and not cutting funding, for arts and STEAM-based programs and courses.
6. A Safer Environment
As bullying, self-harm, and child and teen suicide rates have increased, much of these alarming changes are attributed to the environment at schools. Small independent schools, because of their size and committed faculty, are uniquely poised to create environments that are nurturing, compassionate, and tolerant. Additionally, they have the resources to address any negative interactions between students more quickly and nimbly than their public counterparts.
7. Lack of Standardized Testing
Based on a recent study from the Center on Education Policy, nationally, on average, public school students spend nine days per year taking state mandated exams and 10 days per year on district mandated exams. In addition to the time spent physically completing the exams, 14 and 12 days, respectively, were spent preparing students for these tests. This kind of test-taking is not a life skill, and that valuable time spent on test prep could be far better spent on more meaningful academic pursuits. Due to their independence from state and local funding, private schools are exempt from these mandated exams and can dedicate that time to high-quality learning experiences for their students.
The impact of a high-quality, individualized, mission-driven education is greatest when children are exposed to this rich learning environment early on. Check back soon for another blog from Willow's Head of School Francisco Ayala on why investing in private education in the primary grades is so important!
Click here to request a tour of The Willow School, and see if our independent school is right for you.