New York City has more independent schools than any other city in the world. Each school is unique but all share some common characteristics. Each independent school is self-governed by its own Board of Trustees. Each board appoints an individual as Head of school to run the institution. Independent schools are self –supported. They are not dependent upon church funds as parochial schools are, or upon tax dollars as public schools are. Independent schools receive no federal funding and most are not-for-profit. Independent schools charge tuition and fees. Tuition varies from one school to another but the revenues generated from tuition contribute to the operation of the school. In addition, most independent schools offer financial aid.
Independent schools have their own curriculum. Each school has its own philosophy of education known as its mission statement. Since independent schools are exempt from state and local government regulation, they have the freedom to create their own curriculum. All New York City and State independent schools are fully accredited through a lengthy evaluation process. The people who serve on evaluation teams are current teachers and administrators who are members of NYSAIS, the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
Independent schools have an admissions process. For a child to attend an independent school, the family must go through an admissions process and be accepted. Admissions processes vary from school to school but most include a tour of the school, a parent interview and an evaluation of the child. Other aspects of an applicant’s file include a school report, teacher recommendations, and usually a standardized test. Each school has its own admissions committee and criteria. The goal of the admissions process is to evaluate and ascertain if a student will be happy and successful at the school.
In summary, independent schools share common characteristics, but each school has its own philosophy, mission, curriculum, community, extracurricular offerings, admissions process, financial aid process and tuition. They are indeed independent.