Private or independent schools are those that are sponsored by non-government entities. Almost all private schools in the United States have non-profit status. This means that they are exempt from taxes and pursue an educational mission rather than profit. Although many people think of prestigious boarding schools when the term private school is mentioned, few private schools mirror this design. In fact, almost 50% of private school students attend Catholic day schools, usually located in urban centers, and about 80% attend religious schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000). To attend any private or independent school, students must pay tuition. However, non-profit schools do not seek to make profits, but rather to cover their costs. All private schools are subject to state regulation, but usually under loose conditions, which free them to promote the beliefs, values, and practices they favor.
|For further reading on private religious schools, see the following NCSPE articles:|
|Occasional Paper 30: Figlio, David and Jens Ludwig. 2001. “Sex, Drugs, and Catholic Schools: Private Schooling and Non-Market Adolescent Behaviors.” http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/950_OP30.pdf|
|Occasional Paper 32: Sander, William. 2001. “The Effects of Catholic Schools on Religiosity, Education, and Competition.” http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/727_OP32.pdf|
Why are private schools controversial?
Public school advocates fear private schools promote inequality and encourage families to withdraw from the responsibilities of citizenship, although few would deny the right of parents to send their child to a private school. Controversy arises when non-profit schools are allowed to benefit from public dollars. For example, publicly-funded voucher programs allow families to use tax-payer money to pay for private school tuitions. Non-profit schools are often described as models for the privatization of public schools, and therefore remain central to current debates about public schooling. The potential advantages and disadvantages of private schools are listed below.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education.
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