Education Private and Independent Schools
Edward J. Fox, Jr.
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 December 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0029


The independent schools in the United States are characterized by the following: they are operated as not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations; they are self-governing through a self-perpetuating board; they are independent of any state or church control; they are diverse; they receive no governmental funds and finance themselves through tuition and through voluntary giving; and they are guided by a specific mission. Note that independent schools are not to be confused with the independent public-school districts in such states as Texas and New Mexico. The independent schools are disproportionately influential in this country in private (nonpublic) education, but their enrollment is only 9 percent of the total nonpublic school enrollment. In 2009, 49.8 million students attended the public schools, according to the USDOE statistics, and 6.7 million students attended the nonpublic schools. The independent schools, then, encompass less than 1 percent of the total school-age population, but, again, they are disproportionately influential in this country. They represent a strong political voice in Washington, DC. Generally, there is very little written about independent schools. What follows is intended to be a useful annotated bibliography about the independent schools and their attendant thinking.

General Overview

There is very little written on the independent schools themselves, and no textbooks per se, but one can find many articles on specific topics about the independent schools in the magazine Independent School that could be helpful. Independent School Management and Resource guide for private school administrators (Herrera 2007) also provide material on a variety of specific topics about independent schools.

  • Herrera, Debbi. 2007. Resource guide for private school administrators. Danvers, MA: LRP.

    First published by Aspen Publishers in 2001, this is a resource guide for various components of independent-school operation. Updated frequently, it contains useful information about how boards work, admissions, and college guidance.

  • Independent School.

    This magazine is published quarterly by the National Association of Independent Schools, in Washington, DC. It contains useful topics for heads of schools and other independent-school personnel. Some of the topics available through online sources are on diversity, scheduling, guidance, sexual identity, and innovative programs.

  • Independent School Management.

    This is an organization that produces much useful information about the operation of independent schools. The most useful of their publications is one that comes out every three weeks, entitled Ideas and Perspectives. Its topics are as varied as scheduling, financial facts useful for budgetary planning, and strategic planning.

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