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Private Schools Column

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New figures from the National Association of Independent Schools unintentionally rebut an article in the October issue of Money magazine: "Why Private Schools Are Rarely Worth the Money."

Though the article suggests private schools are no better than the best public schools, children's most devoted advocates--their parents--seem to disagree.

More of them are sending their sons and daughters to independent private schools than ever before, the data from a survey of 702 N.A.I.S. member schools show.

Enrollment in independent schools rose 2.3 percent between the 1992-93 and 1993-94 school years, the biggest growth in recent years.

The numbers had increased 1.7 percent the year before, 1 percent in 1991-92, and 0.7 percent in each of the previous two years. There are 404,308 students in N.A.I.S. schools nationwide.

Independent preschool, middle school, and high school enrollment went up the most, with increases of about 4 percent to 5 percent. Only "postgraduate" or 13th-year programs, offered primarily by boarding schools, declined, by 12.7 percent.

Minority students constituted 14.2 percent of enrollment in N.A.I.S. schools last year, up from 13.8 percent the year before and 9.8 percent a decade ago.

Reflecting a growing commitment to the "African-American boarding school experience," a group of school presidents has formed a new advocacy group.

Five of the country's remaining historically black boarding schools are now part of the Association of African American Boarding Schools. They are: Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, N.C.; the Piney Woods Country Life School in Piney Woods, Miss.; Southern Normal School in Brewton, Ala.; Pine Forge Academy in Pine Forge, Pa.; and Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, N.Y.

Earlier in the century, said Charles H. Beady Jr., the president of Piney Woods, there were about 85 such schools. Now there are only six.

"We can't afford to lose another one," he said.

Although the concept of such schools is popular, they have suffered financially, Mr. Beady added.

But better times may lie ahead. The new association attracted a standing-room-only crowd when it presented issues before the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington last month.

--Laura Miller

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