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  • Stephen Rubenacker

Private School or Public School

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

5 Things You Might Not Have Considered in the Public vs. Private School Discussion

It’s an age-old debate for parents: should you send your child to a public school or opt for a private one? For some, that discussion pertains to children readying themselves for high school but more often, the debate centers around students in the K-8 range, particularly those entering kindergarten. There are a lot of considerations to factor, from curricula and programs to affordability and location.

While there is no one right answer, there are a few, often overlooked benefits of a private school that we think are worth mentioning:

1. Smaller Class Sizes

There is plenty of research that supports the educational benefits of teaching to a smaller group, and how it leads to a more customized learning environment. However, as we’ve seen here at The Bridges Academy, the benefits go far beyond academics. In a smaller class, the children are "known" individuals on a social and emotional level. Along with stronger teacher/student relationships, the bonds children form with their peers in this intimate setting can’t be overstated. While bullying continues to be a growing, national issue, a smaller class size promotes teamwork while creating a feeling of family, making bullying behavior less welcome, and therefore less likely to occur. At this time, our average class size is 12-16 students.

2. Greater Diversity

When parents opt for a public school, they are typically assigned to one that only includes children from their neighborhood. Private schools however can open their doors to towns outside the district, welcoming students from a wide variety of racial, religious and socioeconomic groups. At The Bridges Academy, for example, our student body spans 26 Long Island school districts, which allows us to offer students a truer microcosm of society. This diversity gives our students the opportunity to learn from each other’s varied backgrounds, making them more well rounded and respectful of other people and cultures. Our school prides itself on inclusivity, allowing all of our families to feel welcomed and appreciated for the many gifts that they bring to our community.

3. Less State Interference

Public schools depend primarily on local, state and federal government funds, and in return must provide accountability in order to prove they’re meeting all policy directives. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) also requires annual ELA and math tests for students in grades 3-8, which pressures many schools to “teach to the test.” Private schools do not have to cater their programs around these assessments because their students don't take them. Private schools have more freedom, allowing them to go beyond the standard curriculum and offer more alternative programs, from art and theater to STEM initiatives and beyond. In order to evaluate student progress and the effectiveness of curriculum, our school currently utilizes the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) developed by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). In doing so, we evaluate and compare ourselves against many of the top private/independent schools in the country.

4. The K-8 Model

One NYU research study shows that the K-8 model better supports students for a variety of reasons. For 7th and 8th graders, remaining in the same environment instead of following the traditional elementary/middle school track creates added stability at a time when they are going through a variety of changes associated with adolescence. And unlike the K-12 model, where they can easily get lost among the older teens, middle school students are in a position to build their leadership skills and develop their voice through cross-grade interactions and peer mentorship opportunities with younger students.

5. Financial Assistance

Many parents dismiss the idea of a private school on the basis of having to pay tuition, without realizing that there may be options for financial assistance. At The Bridges Academy, we believe that finances should never stand in the way of a quality education. In fact, one in four of our students at our school receive some sort of financial support. We work with families along with a third party independent company to analyze each family’s situation and determine what kind of tuition assistance we can provide.

Are you a Long Island parent who wants to know more about the advantages of a K-8 independent school for their child? Give The Bridges Academy a call. We’re a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools and we offer a wide variety of experiences that appeal to all types of learners.

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