I am a product of independent schools. I graduated from University School in Cleveland, Ohio and later went back to teach and coach at my alma mater. I had the privilege of spending time at Woodberry Forest School and leading Verde Valley School. It was my assumption that an independent school would always employ me.
Then two things happened…
#1. At the 2015 NBOA conference, in response to an audience question regarding the steep increases in tuition, a consultant from ISM stated that there was nothing to worry about. In fact, and I am paraphrasing here, he said there will always be wealthy people willing to pay higher tuition. He even suggested limiting the amount of financial aid because it “cheapens” the product.
#2 I watched John Maeda suggest, to the entire 2015 NAIS conference, that with a credit card reader and a rented classroom at the library, anyone could start their own school.
Private school tuition is too expensive. The ends don’t justify the means – the product is simply not worth the expense. It is complete arrogance to think that these astronomical tuition rates can last (or continue to increase). These schools are in a crisis they don’t have the tools to solve.
One solution is the Tiny School – following John Maeda’s suggestion. Re-engineering school starts from a blank slate. Stop funneling tuition into legacy facilities and use the vast resource base to re-think education.
It was my privilege to attend, teach and be part of such a wonderful group of independent schools. Sadly, they’ve fallen behind. They’ve lost their hustle.