School Choice & Charters Blog

Independent Schools, Common Perspectives

Peter Gow was an administrator and teacher in independent schools for nearly 40 years. As the Executive Director of the Independent Curriculum Group, he wrote about the relationship between private and public education and how the two sectors might draw upon each other’s strengths. This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on by visiting our related topic pages: private schools.

Education Opinion In Memoriam: John Chubb
On Friday we learned of the sudden death of John Chubb, president of the National Association of Independent Schools. John was only a couple of years into what promised to be a long and productive mission at NAIS, and his voice and wisdom and vast experience were already beginning to awaken some of the sleepier members of the independent school community.
Peter Gow, November 16, 2015
2 min read
Education Opinion Independent Schools in the World: John Chubb Responds to Further Questions
I have been struck by how separate our world is from the public and charter school world--just as I long observed the great divide between public and charter. All of us as educators would do well--learn and improve--from opening lines of communication and participation.
Peter Gow, September 24, 2014
5 min read
Education Opinion Independent Schools in the World: John Chubb Responds to Questions
Our schools are all mission-based. Missions are almost universally concerned with the student's social and emotional development--the building of character, confidence and a commitment to service. Our schools may tell parents about these virtues. Our schools may be missing an opportunity to make the case more explicitly to parents.
Peter Gow, September 22, 2014
4 min read
Education Opinion Independent School Mission Statements and Missions
A challenge for any school, of course, is to both know and understand its mission beyond just the simple mission statement. The greater and most essential challenge, however, is to live and communicate that mission fully--to make, if you will, the Venn diagram of a school's "mission" and "experience" a perfect circle.
Peter Gow, July 18, 2014
4 min read
Education Opinion What the Independent School-Public School Dialogue Needs
Independent schools extol and cleave to their mission statements, and I'd like to see an organization, or a series of events, whose stated purpose would be to bring educators together across all sectors to build and fortify, to lift some language from the #PubPriBridge statement of purpose, "a mutual commitment 'to make the waves that raise all boats'" and to "direct these waves toward helping all students in all schools rise higher, think more deeply, and become more engaged and active citizens."
Peter Gow, May 22, 2014
4 min read
Education Opinion Independent School Responsibilities: 'Test Kitchens' and Sustaining a Nation
Independent school students and their families may have absented themselves from public schools, but there is no reason that our practices need to do so. In return for tax-exemptions and public acquiescence to our relatively unregulated existence, why not give back by sharing what we know best: our own experiences related to teaching and learning?
Peter Gow, May 13, 2014
4 min read
Education Opinion What's Dangerous About the Grit Narrative, and How to Fix It
The Grit Narrative, its shadow spreading back over the land under the guise of "research," threatens to take us straight back to an era where poverty is about laziness and where failure, unless it's the "failing up" of a revered entrepreneur, carries the stain of moral bankruptcy.
Peter Gow, March 3, 2014
5 min read
Education Opinion An Authentic Independent School/Public School Teacher Dialogue: Might We?
The folks behind last night's Twitter chat believe the time has come to act on the apparent enthusiasm for--need for, I would even say--some grass-roots, teacher-to-teacher connectedness between our sometimes rarefied world and those who work in public schools.
Peter Gow, January 17, 2014
3 min read
Education Opinion Less Yelling, More Talking in 2014
Too many people whose instincts ought to be better have learned the vicious lessons of extremist talk radio or adopted as serious stances the rhetorical excesses of satirists.
Peter Gow, December 31, 2013
3 min read
Education Opinion The Right Question From Independent Schools
Supporting the public sector ought to be an important industry goal in whatever ways we can accomplish it; as Americans we've got the future of millions of kids besides those in our schools to worry about. By doing well by them, by asking what we can do for our country and then doing it, we'll be okay.
Peter Gow, December 9, 2013
4 min read
Education Opinion Innovations and Expectations
To Smil's point, real improvement is not going to fall like "manna from heaven" into our schools, nor is it going to come from "fairy-tale solutions," no matter how many apps we can access. For all schools, independent, private, public, it's going to take real effort--better policies and more thoughtful and intentional practices--to move education forward.
Peter Gow, November 27, 2013
3 min read
Education Opinion Big Money, Big Gifts, and Institutional Values
What is the influence of Big Money on education, even at places like Yale, where even a giant gift represents only a relative drop in a $20.8 billion endowment bucket? Put more edgily, don't big gifts tend to come with agendas and expectations, even if the expectations are carefully masked by words of openness and pure intention?
Peter Gow, October 15, 2013
4 min read
Education Opinion The College Board's Access Rhetoric: I'm Listening
If there are able, invested kids whom the College Board's efforts to aid with fee waivers and information can propel to the next level, then I'm a fan. If all of their initiatives to support underrepresented and underserved populations are going to become the full focus of their attention, then I'm a fan.
Peter Gow, September 27, 2013
4 min read
Education Opinion It All Sounds So Nice: David Coleman at the College Admission Conference
Coleman even said, the head of the outfit that gave the world mass standardized testing (and the idea that a test can be a singular measure of something important, like a kid's worthiness to be a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist), "We don't need more tests [for kids], we need more opportunities." Wow. Huh.
Peter Gow, September 20, 2013
4 min read