Fix: How do you feel about public boarding schools?

I’ve long opined that disadvantaged kids from tough homes and neighborhoods would benefit from boarding schools that dislocate them from their challenging environments and provide them with a constructive, comprehensive learning and social experience.

What I didn’t know was that this education model is already in place in a few locales and is slowly being spread to others.

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One of the pioneering public boarding schools is DC’s SEED Foundation Charter School …


The SEED Foundation opened its first public boarding school for poor and academically at-risk students in 1998 and followed up with a school in Baltimore in 2008 and Miami in 2014. A fourth school is in the works in Ohio.

The SEED model in a nutshell:.

Students in grades six through 12 spend 120 hours-per-week on campus from Sunday through Friday, returning home on weekends.

SEED offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum which incorporates the appropriate mix of content areas, deep development of writing and critical thinking skills so that students are prepared for college level coursework.

As a boarding school, SEED DC has a unique opportunity to foster learning opportunities after school and in the evenings through the Student Life Program which provides academic support to students through structured study halls and homework centers; extracurricular activities such as dance, chess, robotics, theater and athletics; and life skills instruction through the HALLS (Habits for Achieving Life-Long Success) curriculum.

SEED also offer a wide range of external opportunities such as international trips, internships and community service learning projects so that our students feel greater satisfaction and are better positioned for success in college.

The school’s headmaster says: “Our rigorous academic expectations, 24-hour enriched boarding program and intensive student supports ensure exceptional outcomes for every student.”


Why not a faster spread of these charter schools?

You guessed it: government bureaucracies and teacher unions.

Cost is usually raised as an issue, but it looks to me like a red herring.

The annual costs are estimated to be $20,000 to $25,000 per student.

That sounds like a lot until you consider (1) places like Baltimore City schools are already shelling out about $16,000 for largely ineffective education (2) there’s probably a wide based of benefactors willing to help subsidize the costs, and (3) there are enormous benefits from transforming these disadvantaged kids and giving them a brighter future,

Why not a faster spread of these charter schools?

You guessed it: government bureaucracies and teacher unions.

Get them out of the way, give parents vouchers, and watch the progress….



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2 Responses to “Fix: How do you feel about public boarding schools?”

  1. Mike Says:

    The model works, its just hard to do at scale. Check out This was started and run by Coach Joe Gibbs. Its the same basic model and they have phenomenal outcomes. If you are looking for new philanthropic outlets, these guys are worth consideration of time and dollars.

  2. Andrew M Says:

    Boarding school as a freshman (my only year) made a huge difference for me. If someone makes you sit at a desk for two hours every night, you might as well study…

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