Many of the private primary and secondary schools in the United States were founded by religious institutions in order to incorporate religious beliefs and teachings into their students’ education, integrating it with a traditional academic curriculum. Some of the first religious schools were founded by the Catholic Church, and these parochial schools are still prevalent amongst private schools. Since then, however, many other religious denominations have started schools to provide religious education, and families often choose to enroll their children in schools whose policies reflect their own values. Nowadays, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian and other religiously based schools are quite common. In addition, some private schools, boarding schools and military academies, offer their own unique approaches to education.
Private school teachers are usually not part of unions, and their employment is typically set by a contract, allowing them to negotiate their terms. Regular benefits include insurance, disability benefits, leave programs, retirement plans, professional development plans and tuition reimbursement for continuing education. Teachers with their own children enjoy a discount in tuition for their children to attend the school, and if they teach at a boarding school, they often receive free or subsidized meals and housing.
Private schools are not funded or operated by federal, state or local governments. They are not paid for by public tax dollars and are not subject to the regulations that govern public schools. However, most private schools choose not to stray too far from federal policies and strive to provide a quality of education equal to or better than that available in public schools. Unlike public schools, they are allowed to set their own criteria for admitting students and are not subject to the limits of school districts and zoning laws, allowing families to chose a private school regardless of their location. Private schools in the United States range from primary (elementary / middle) and secondary (high) schools to schools of higher education, such as colleges and vocational schools.