Many parents ask whether or not “private” and “independent” schools are the same thing? Here’s the skinny:
A “private” school refers to any school that does not receive public funding from its state government. Within the private school world, there are several sub-categories. Parochial schools are schools linked directly to a Catholic diocese. These schools can offer lower tuition for members of the diocese in some situations. There are other religious schools (from Episcopalian to Jewish) which are not tied to a Catholic church diocese. “Independent” schools are private schools which are ruled by a board of governors or trustees. This governing board is truly independent of any other organization, whereas a different private school can technically be governed by any outside entity, from non-profit organizations to churches to for-profit corporations. The important distinction is that while both are non-public, independent schools have stricter rules for governance within the private school world.
Many private schools follow this model of independent governance. For a thorough list of 85 private schools in the DC metro area that are independent, visit www.independenteducation.org. Although the terms “private” and “independent” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to know the distinction when thinking about schools for your child.