It is safe to say that not all schools are created equal. There are clear benefits to being a faculty member in an independent school environment. However, one must compete with a number of highly qualified candidates to get through the gate. After nine years of teaching, I only know and fully understand private school culture. Guybe Slangen [see note below] gives a take on being a faculty member in a private school:
Taking all this into consideration, here is a partial list of privileges that I receive as a teacher in a private school. Like the McIntosh piece, this is by no means a scholarly analysis of the institution of private schools, but rather personal observations in my daily experiences and particular circumstances. I feel that I personally did not earn many of these privileges, but rather others earned these for me and I benefit from them everyday.
- I can go to my school and feel confident that it is a safe place to learn and work.
- I work in buildings and facilities that are in impeccable condition.
- The school has two fully equipped libraries (lower and upper schools).
- Our 15-acre urban campus also has a variety sports fields (soccer, baseball, tennis), a gymnasium (basketball, volleyball), and a pool.
- We have a maintenance team in charge of upkeep of our facilities.
- We have a very effective development team in charge of raising funds for both long and short-term campaigns to support the school.
- My classroom has enough seats for all of my students.
- My classes are small: 12 – 16 students.
- All students have basic supplies and current textbooks.
- Almost all students have access to a computer at home.
- I have the time, freedom, and resources to cater to a variety of different learners and learning styles. We have full time school counselor and learning specialist. We also have free on-campus tutoring for students.
- I have access to almost any technological resources I want.
- We have regular assemblies to which we invite performers, speakers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, politicians, authors, etc. Some notable figures that have spoken to our students are John Glenn, Arriana Huffington, and Jared Diamond.
- We have a community garden that serves not only as a source for organic food served in our café, but also as a working classroom for all grades.
- Our café serves healthy food using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. The food is fresh, varied, and nutritious.
- We have top-notch music and art programs.
- We have co-curricular and extra-curricular programs such as debate, service learning, and global education designed to enhance and enrich the student experience.
- We have rigorous admissions standards to ensure that we have the most capable, qualified, diverse, and committed students and families.
- Our faculty consists of highly trained professionals with a wealth of experience in not only their fields, but also in teaching their fields. Many have advanced degrees, some even with PhDs.
- I am not held to either federal or state testing standards such as NCLB.
- I am certain that my students are both challenged and supported.
- I can assign homework and be confident that students will complete the work in safe and encouraging environments.
- I am confident that parents are actively involved in their child’s education, and do what they can to help them succeed.
- Many of our students come from homes where their parent(s) went to college.
- Many of our students come from financially well-off families. For those that struggle to afford the tuition and expenses, we make every attempt to provide financial aid.
- We have a 100% graduation rate. College is the norm, not the exception. I am confident that my students will be successful in college and beyond.
- I can choose to ignore the issues that public schools encounter everyday (for example mounting budget cuts, high stakes testing, and constant faculty turnover to name a few).
* The entire article can be found at the Independent Teacher.