You may be wondering how the benefits of enrolling your child or children in an independent school may compare to the initial costs of the education.
An independent school is “independent” in two extremely critical ways:
- Independent in governance: Schools are organized as not-for-profit corporations governed by a Board of Trustees with legally-mandated fiduciary duties and responsibilities;
- Independent in finance: Schools charge tuition and raise money to operate as opposed to being supported primarily by public monies.
It is the independence of independent schools that offer the four essential freedoms that make them strong and highly effective:
- The freedom to define their own mission and values (why they exist, whom they serve) and their approach.
- The freedom to regulate admissions (admitting students who will best benefit from the school’s mission and approach).
- The freedom to define teacher credentials, expectations, and performance.
- The freedom to teach what the teacher decides is important (free from state curricular and textbook mandates).
Research conducted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) shows that families choose independent schools primarily because they perceive the quality of teaching to be exceptional and the character education or moral climate to be appropriate. On a national basis, the typical independent school often has more diversity (ethnically, socioeconomically, racially) than neighboring public schools. The Prairie School’s student body is 21% diverse.
The socioeconomic diversity of independent schools is supported by a significant commitment to financial aid. Independent school students come from a wide range of family income levels, and, at Prairie, one-out-of-two-students is supported by financial aid.
Independent schools are also different in terms of the effectiveness of the partnership between parent and school. We speak in a unified voice about a common set of goals, values, and desired outcomes – and it is this coalescing of parental and school voices that points students toward achievement … and guides them toward commendable behaviors and good citizenship.