John Gulla

Executive Director, The Edward E. Ford Foundation

Why Independent Schools?

Tuesday, October 20, 9:30 – 10:30 am (General Session) and 11:00-12:00 pm (Breakout)

What is today’s case for the very existence of independent schools?  While many of us know that privately funded schools preceded the Common School Movement and the spread of publicly funded, universally available education throughout the US in the 19th C, how many of us carefully examine the purpose of private schools? What are the benefits to the students, their families, those who work in them and to the broader society?  Private schools are broadly seen as bastions of privilege and in many cases, they are, but as Adichie taught us, there is a danger in the single story.  

What is the rationale in 2020 in the U.S. for independent schools? Is it educational, economic, philosophic, religious? From Pierce vs. Society to the recent battle in NY over “substantial equivalency”, from the influence of state textbook purchasing power and the political pressures over content to the standardized measures of progress and the Common Core, what marks us as worthy of support? What are some of the underlying principles and forces at work on these levels?