Look at history of boarding schools

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear editor,

Charter schools have gained impetus throughout the nation. The Alabama State Legislature recently approved the establishment of charter schools in the state. There is currently a movement in the national educational arena to revive or bring back “public” boarding schools. These schools would be designated for troubled youth. Private boarding schools continue to exist.

A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers or principals. Some boarding schools have day students that attend the school during the day and return to their families in the evenings.

Boarding schools have a long history that began in Europe around 597 AD. Families used to send boys to monasteries in order to be taught and discipline by clergymen. The majority of America’s earliest boarding schools had religious origins. Boarding schools began to practice the American educational system’s techniques as time passed.

Some individuals see the public boarding school as an alternative to assist troubled youth who are destined for the “Pipeline to Prison.” Removing students from the environment where their troubling behavior began is very important, and is perhaps the initial step. Boarding schools provide individual attention with a good balance of scholastic and emotional support. Some students cannot achieve in a traditional learning environment.

Modern-day boarding schools offer a college prep and school-to-work curriculum. Some are classed as therapeutic boarding schools. These help teenagers with problems at home, school or neighborhood.

Studies reveal that the advantages of boarding schools are: boarding schools traditionally have highly qualified teachers; children at boarding schools benefit from small classes and heightened interaction between students and their teachers; the residential campus environment ensures that students are immersed in an educational world where learning is central to all activities; students are uniquely prepared for university life; graduates often attend the finest universities and colleges; students are conditioned for future success because they are encouraged to achieve their full potential at boarding school; and boarding schools bestow on students an independence they would not have living at home.

The public boarding school concept is not without its critics. Public boarding schools are expensive and a school cannot substitute for good parenting. Critics also believe that taxpayers should not be forced to fund another government-subsidized initiative. Private boarding schools are the norm.

Gerald Shirley