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Public Versus Private School Debate

There are benefits to both

“Our strong advice to parents is to pick a school rather than a type of school,” says Bryan C. Hassel, Co-Director of Public Impact and the author of the Picky Parent Guide: Choose Your Child’s School with Confidence. Here is what two local school administrators have to say:




“The ability for us in the public sector to bring together students from all backgrounds and ethnicities to make sure that all children get a good education is a real gift,” says Debra Jackson, Superintendent of the Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District in Orange County. The Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District serves the communities of Fort Montgomery, Highland Falls, and (for its high school) West Point and Garrison. Jackson remains upbeat about public school education even though the district has been one of hardest hit by New York State’s education budget problems.


Jackson highlights the successful art and music programs in her district along with some of its other innovative programs, like virtual learning environments, which they are working toward implementing and current programs, like the exchanges between the district’s second graders with fourth and fifth graders in Taiwan through video conferencing and work sharing.


“I really believe that one of the nice pieces about a public school is that you need to hear from the community on what they value and build a program that reflects those values,” said Jackson.




“Every strong independent school has a distinct mission,” says Peter Baily, Head of Oakwood Friends School, New York State’s oldest co-educational boarding and day school, located in Poughkeepsie. “In other words, the school’s philosophy and programs are in alignment to serve particular learning needs and goals and community values.”


According to Baily, independent schools offer an array of choices and alternatives for families. “Oakwood Friends seeks to nurture the scholar, the artist, the athlete, and the spirit in each student,” says Baily. “Academic classes are led by skilled, innovative teachers and are based on dialogue, discussion, research, and analysis in which all members participate.”


Baily also points out that the school has a diverse student and faculty community that encourages an understanding of many different viewpoints, traditions and life experiences. “Because Oakwood is a small school, all students have the opportunity to be involved in leadership positions, athletic teams, and a variety of arts activities and service learning programs,” said Baily.


He adds that Oakwood has been able to maintain a steady enrollment and continues to support its diverse programs through the current downturn in the economy.

What do you think? Leave us a comment and let us know!