If you have kids who are school age, you know that there is constant discussion about public schools and its alternatives.  Have you wondered what the difference is between public and independent schools?  Let’s go over them:

Curriculum

In public schools, who sets the curriculum?  The National Center for Education Statistics said, even back in 1995, that principals of public schools felt that even though they had a “great deal of influence” while still 61% of them maintained that the state department of education also had a “great deal of influence.”  This being before the core curriculum, it seems that decentralization is an important goal for the state department of education and that they are getting their way with public schools.

Meantime, independent, or private, schools at that time had over 70% of principals crediting teachers with curriculum choice, and 85% said they had a “great deal of influence”.  With all the outcry about common core, it just makes sense to have the curriculum decided upon by the people involved with the very kids the curriculum is meant for.  Not every child in the country can do well with the exact same curriculum.  At an independent school, the curriculum can even be molded to the individual student.

Funding and Beholdenment

There are two ideas at play in the financial aspects of schooling.  One is where the money comes from and how much is invested in the school.  The second is who is the school accountable to for the financing.

In public schools financing is, according to School Funding Fairness, grossly out of kilter, with Texas, California, Nevada, North Carolina, and Idaho not only being the lowest funded nationally but with the least state funding as well.  Add in the fact that the schools are then beholden to the government for outcomes, and it isn’t any wonder that teachers find themselves having to ‘teach to the test.’  Because of the large numbers of students involved in handling a national congregation of schools, the focus of the state department of education has to be on grades and passing instead of meaningful education and learning.

Fortunately, independent schools are funded by grants and tuition, meaning that they set their own standards for finances, and can determine where the money goes.  It also means that they are beholden to no one but the students and parents who may have different expectations than “can pass a test given over the course of 5 days straight.”  They are not just hoping to pass students to the next grade, but truly trying to engage each student at a level public schools can’t reach.

Standardized Testing

These subjects are all tied together, and at their core is standardized testing.  While all schools need to do some amount of standardized testing, public schools have gone full throttle and testing has become the main focus of the education process.  This is because they don’t have a better way to measure success as students progress from grade to grade, and reporting on that measured success is what gets schools their funding.

Independent schools know how their students are doing because they know them.  The teachers know how the kids are progressing from month to month, week to week, even day to day.  Especially when the school has a 1 to 1 student/teacher ratio, the student’s education becomes very personal to the teachers, and that’s more important to success than a standardized test can ever show.

If you are reading this and finding yourself thinking that an independent school may be for you, contact us to find out more about how we operate and what we do to further your student’s academic (and life) success.