Main Menu

Explore More

Independent Schools vs. Private Schools


Independent Schools Are Different From Other Private Schools

"Private school" is a catch-all term to describe any school not part of a public school system. The term includes church-affiliated schools, where some of the funding comes from the church and the school's philosophy is deeply informed by that of the church. It also includes schools that are run for profit, and that are often owned by the school's director.

Independent schools, on the other hand, are neither part of a church nor owned in any sense. They are free-standing and governed by a self-perpetuating boards of trustees. They are philanthropic enterprises, often funded by gifts from generous individuals, and established explicitly to provide an education guided by a clearly stated educational mission.

Free from the bureaucracy of local and state school requirements, independent schools develop their own curricula and benchmarks for student achievement. Generally, these curricula surpass the requirements of the state. Independent schools are free to hire the teachers they wish and they are free to evaluate teaching performance, rewarding those who exceed expectations and removing those who come up short.

Why Choose an Independent School?

Why should a family choose to send their child to Harbor Country Day School rather than the local public school or a nearby for-profit school? The answers given by families vary, but often include our small class sizes, the nurturing environment, the talented and dedicated faculty, and the comprehensive curriculum.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) have identified five questions that parents should ask to assess the quality of their child's current and prospective educational milieu. Here are the questions, and Harbor's answers.