The possibility of the State Education Department exerting greater control over non-public schools recently caught my attention. While I am now retired, my last employment as a school psychologist was by a local school district for more than 20 years. This position allowed me to work in both public schools and non-public schools of various religious denominations or no denomination, with both public and non-public schools staffed by an unusually large number of highly talented and dedicated teachers.
There was a distinct difference regarding how I was allowed to work in the public versus the non-public school settings. This difference was attributable to the fact that my role in the public schools was sharply defined by federal and state laws and regulations, and I found myself unable to define my job in a way that maximized both my skills and positive student outcomes.
This was not the case in the non-public schools, which I found flexible and receptive to various suggestions I made. For example, immediately at the conclusion of my student evaluation, I was always able to request and have arranged, a conference where I shared my evaluation findings and impressions with the teacher(s), parent(s), principal or headmaster and other staff knowledgeable about the student in question. Logical interventions were cooperatively developed at such conferences, and later executed typically by those attending the conference.
It is my belief that the greater latitude of action I was permitted in the non-public schools directly resulted in significantly more positive student outcomes than was the case in public schools. My experience suggests nothing good will result should the State Legislature decide to further empower State Education Department bureaucrats to dictate policy or procedures to non-public schools.
Laurence Tosetto, Ph.D.