Many public schools are experiencing a radical surge in challenges that effect not only the students, but entire families. Statistics reveal a sad and shocking truth. Between the years 2013-14, approximately 35 states within the US experienced sharp budget cuts that lowered funding per-student. Surveys further reveal that although some states increased their school’s budgets, it was not nearly enough to compensate for the budget deficit in the past 5 years.
The drastic budget decreases and lack of funding pale in comparison with other challenges faced by many public schools today. Bullying, poor grades, and emotional and social difficulties are on the sharp rise among many student bodies from kindergarten to high school. In the year 2014 alone, studies reveal that approximately 65 percent of public schools reported one or more violent incidents within that year. This percentage amounts to a horrifying 757,000 incidents–15 crimes per every 1,000 enrolled students.
Although no school–public or private–is perfect and without individual challenges, private, independent schools present a very refreshing alternative for students who are struggling within the spectrum of public schooling. At the center of most independent schools lies four core values, establishing a strong baseline for success both within the classroom as well as within the home.
Unlike the curriculum of public schools which must be “accredited” to show government approval, independent schools are free to establish and use their own curriculum and material. This freedom in education allows teachers to better cater to the individual learning styles and habits of their students. Teachers can see how well their students are responding to certain material and make changes accordingly if progress isn’t satisfactory. Independent curriculum also allows schools to choose material to reflect better morals and religion for their students if chosen by school authorities. Curriculum such as this allows teachers to not only teach the minds of their students, but the hearts as well.
In addition to freedom of curriculum, independent schools often use freedom of faith and religion to help ground and establish their student’s lives, allowing greater success and morality. Independent schools may provide chapel for their students to attend during the week or allow prayer within the classroom. Although not every parent may approve of policies such as these, CNS News reports a drastic rise in classroom negatives following the removal of Bible and prayer from within schools. Not all independent schools choose to reinstate the faith within their classrooms, but a notable percentage have established this as part of the ground work of their education system.
- Testing Procedures
Standardized testing is a popular term of debate and the pros and cons have been the source of great contention for parents, students, and school officials. While standardized testing is established within the public school spectrum, independent schools often choose their own arsenal of testing processes. While public schools are required by law to use certain standardized tests, independent schools remain free to select their own tests and procedures such as the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT). Independent school testing procedures allow the focus to remain on the student’s well being and education and less on government involvement and assessment.
- Beliefs and Values
Often because of the sheer volume of students, some public schools unintentionally neglect the moral development of some students. The focus becomes so rooted in grades and academic progress that core beliefs and values are sometimes pushed to the side. Independent schools are often much smaller in size, allowing more one-on-one time with teachers and school authority. The personal atmosphere that pervades within many independent schools allows more emphasis on healthy moral concepts and values. Students are taught more than just facts and knowledge; they are taught how to grow into good, upright adults that contribute to their community.
Every student is different. Because of this, over-generalizations should not be made on what is best for your child. A student that thrives within a public school setting should not be removed due to simple statistics. Likewise, independent schools should not be ignored due to stigmas and false assumptions. The public education system is very broad climate and decisions should be made on the personal basis of what is the best fit for your child and family. However, these core values of independent schools present a happy, healthy picture that no parent should ignore. For more information of independent schools and their roles within the community, please contact us.