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Boarding Schools characterized as more progressive/liberal

VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
I am looking for thoughts into which boarding schools are considered to be more progressive/liberal. If you have opinions about this for both coed and all-girls schools i would be appreciate it. Thank you for your insights!
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Replies to: Boarding Schools characterized as more progressive/liberal

  • Sue22Sue22 6928 replies121 threads Super Moderator
    edited April 22
    Putney in Southern Vermont

    Cambridge School of Weston in the Boston suburbs (minority boarding)

    Buxton in Western Massachusetts

    All 3 of these would describe themselves as progressive schools.

    Concord Academy is quite liberal.
    edited April 22
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 372 replies36 threads Member
    What are some likes and interests? I agree with the ones mentioned above with Putney, CSW and Buxton being great for kids that are really arts-focused, but maybe not so much for those that are sports focused. I'd also add Proctor, White Mountain, and Darrow.
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  • VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks this is very helpful. My daughter's Interests include history, music, social justice. Sports are not a priority whereas very strong academics and good mentorship
    are.
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 372 replies36 threads Member
    edited April 23
    You might want to add Solebury to the list as well. The Quaker influenced schools tend to have a strong social justice component.
    edited April 23
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6665 replies10 threads Senior Member
    George School and Westtown are the 2 Quaker boarding schools that come to mind. Both offer a more traditional (George is an IB school) education in a progressive community.

    Putney was the one that came to mind as progressive on all fronts.

    Your description, BTW, made me think George right away. Excellent, rigorous academics in a very diverse, inclusive, and social justice motivated community.
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  • VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks for this. We are drawn to the Quaker schools and Concord Academy. Does anyone know of the campus culture at Emma Willard? i.e. more conservative or liberal/progressive? etc.
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  • parentofnicekidparentofnicekid 49 replies3 threads Junior Member
    St. Andrew’s in DE seems to have a strong social justice bent, as well as a strong community.
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  • VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
    I didn't know that about St Andrew's. Thanks, I will look into it.
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  • VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
    Any sense about the campus culture (progressive/conservative) for any of the all girls boarding schools?
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  • chemmchimneychemmchimney 858 replies1 threads Member
    NMH has long been considered one of the more progressive schools - it was founded to educate those who could not pay for the traditional schools and they have a strong and meaningful social justice focus including a class/track on social entrepreneurship. My daughter got a wonderful grounding in LGBTQ issues and diversity there and it is a fairly laid back environment with plenty of places to find your people outside of sports.

    Our younger daughter went to Darrow which is truly progressive in that nearly all work is project based/experiential and there is great latitude for students to follow their individual passions. Its a tiny community and the work load is very manageable compared to some of the other prep schools. Putney is the school that first comes to mind for many people who are looking for a progressive school. Happy hunting!
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2143 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Agree with @Sue22 , CA was the most liberal of all the schools we visited. If she's into social justice that's her place.
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  • westcoastmom987westcoastmom987 49 replies4 threads Junior Member
    If you are willing to look on the west coast, many of the schools out here have a more liberal feel than what we experienced with schools our family visited on the east coast.
    Cate, Thacher, Stevenson, Webb, Dunn, Midland are all options in CA (there are others as well).
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  • VermontanaVermontana 9 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks for these suggestions out west. These sound really good. At the moment, I am not sure that she (or I) is ok with being that far away.
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  • stalecookiesstalecookies 112 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I think that the Cambridge School of Weston is waaay more liberal/progressive than Concord Academy.
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  • parentofnicekidparentofnicekid 49 replies3 threads Junior Member
    My kid and I visited Cate on a Spring Tour to see if it was an option and neither of us found it "progressive" at all (although I thought it was a great school). @Vermontana, there is a spectrum of what might considered "progressive/liberal" and while I think schools in CA (like Cate) might be considered liberal, that means something very different than "progressive". Not to be reductive, but I would equate most BS schools to be like Joe Biden and the more progressive schools to be like Bernie/AOC. That being said, it was nice to hear back in 2017 when we toured Groton (for another kid) that the kid who was giving the tour kind of hemmed and hawed when he showed us all the letters from past US Presidents on a wall and I asked if they would hang the incoming president's letter (I still don't know bc the tour guide for younger kid didn't point the letters out and I didn't want to interrupt). Thus, I think most BS are on the liberal side, but few are truly progressive since it's such a disruptive way to learn.
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  • parentofnicekidparentofnicekid 49 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Also, @chemmchimney I've also heard the NHM is progressive. Another school that I've heard is progressive is Holderness.
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  • JackPKenJackPKen 2 replies0 threads New Member
    Phillips Exeter is incredible. Our son graduated from Exeter in 2014 and it was an amazing growth experience for him. In addition, Exeter has a huge endowment. Families making less than $75,000 pay NO tuition, and they also have generous aid programs for middle- and upper-income families.
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  • JackPKenJackPKen 2 replies0 threads New Member
    All classes are 12 students or less and one instructor, seated around an oval table named the Harkness table. There are no lectures. Instead, each day, students are given homework assignments. The following day they discuss, without lectures, the topic of the homework assignment. They learn to speak well and persuasively - and they also learn to listen well and attentively. It's a great preparation for real life.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2143 replies18 threads Senior Member
    I guess a part of the issue is progressive is not liberal and liberal is not progressive. I'd agree that many of these BS schools lean left politically ( "liberal"). But there are an entire group of schools that I would term "progressive" in the sense that they approach education in unusual and fundamentally different ways ( non-mainstream). Close as I could come without dipping into politics. There are in fact some super interesting "progressive" schools like THINK where they essentially use the world as a classroom. And there are schools where they are very limited in their thinking and use their politics as a cudgel (if you don't believe the same thing it could be rough).
    But, fortunately there's a school for every kid. Most kids know what fits.
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 596 replies7 threads Member
    I like the Bernie/Biden analogy!

    I think that bs’s generally lean liberal, California ones just do it with a California vibe. The social justice warrior (for lack of a better term, I don’t mean it as a pejorative) is probably no more of a thing in a California boarding school than a typical East Coast bs. A sjw can find a good number of like-minded folks at any of ‘em. If anything, my impression is that conservatives are in the significant minority at almost all boarding schools.

    Are you asking about political leanings of the student body or approach to teaching? If it approach to teaching, what are you looking for? Living on a working farm, alternative curriculum, very artsy, very environmentally focused, different grading system? Political extracurriculars?
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