I spend a lot of time thinking about school, not just my school, but all schools. Education in our country gets a lot of attention—from parents, from media, and from politicians. This makes sense, because of course we all want what’s best for children—and their performance in school will have a direct impact on our nation’s future success. Unfortunately, and sadly, after decades of study, laws, and billions of dollars, the American K-12 education isn’t very good for most of our nation's children, and it’s far from being great.
There is one exception, in my opinion, and that is our private schools:
1. Private schools are great places to work and therefore attract excellent teachers
The core of great schools is great teachers. Small classes, motivated students, supportive parents, freedom to design curriculum—there is little wonder many teachers covet teaching positions in our schools.
2. Private schools are safe
Parents select our schools, and private schools select their students. Students who harm the academic or social fabric of school don’t remain in the school community. Our schools rarely deal with distractions like theft, drugs, or fighting. The focus is on engaged learning.
3. Private schools provide healthy peer groups for students
Our students are choosing to attend our schools; they are often more motivated and involved than the majority of public school students in our country. Because of our (often) smaller size, the opportunities to play on sports teams, be included in theater, music and other co-curriculars are greatly enhanced.
4. Private Schools Provide A Caring Community
With great teachers, a safe personalized environment, a positive social group—it’s not surprising that private schools create a kind and successful student body. In our schools, students learn more, work harder, take healthy risks, and develop to be their very best selves. I could go on—perhaps in homage to my old favorite, David Letterman, and write a top 10 list—but I think you get the point. Private schools of all shapes, sizes, religious and non-religious are special places for students and families.
During a time in our country when we need our best and brightest to be thinking big and developing into young people able to tackle a whole new world—I believe private schools are a perfect place for this to happen. In fact, I know it already happens, every day at schools like Sanford School all across the country.
I encourage you to learn about the private schools in your area.
Mark Anderson is the head of Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware.