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Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Coordinates: 40°53′21″N 73°54′23″W / 40.88917°N 73.90639°W / 40.88917; -73.90639
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Ethical Culture Fieldston School


United States
Coordinates40°53′21″N 73°54′23″W / 40.88917°N 73.90639°W / 40.88917; -73.90639
TypePrivate, day, college-preparatory
MottoLatin: Fiat lux ("Let there be light")
Established1878; 146 years ago (1878)
FounderFelix Adler
Head of schoolJoe Algrant
Teaching staffApprox. 270
Student to teacher ratio6:1
Campus size18 acres (73,000 m2)
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)  Orange
Athletics conferenceIvy Preparatory School League
AccreditationNational Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
NewspaperFieldston News and Fieldston Political Journal
Annual tuition$63,020 (2023-24) [1]
Other publicationsFieldston News The Fieldston LP, Fieldston Lit Mag, Middle School News, Dope Ink Prints, The Hill Chronicle, Inklings, The Fieldston Political Journal
  • "Fieldston Lower School" (Fieldston Lower School)
  • "It's the Feeling Inside" (Ethical Culture)
  • "I'm On My Way" (Middle School)
  • "Iam Canamus" (Upper School)

Ethical Culture Fieldston School (ECFS), also known as Fieldston, is a private pre-K–12th grade coeducational school in New York City with two campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx. The school is a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League. The school serves approximately 1,700 students with 480 faculty and staff.[2]

The school consists of four divisions: Ethical Culture (Pre-K through 5th grade, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan), Fieldston Lower (in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, also serves Pre-K through 5th grade), Fieldston Middle (6th–8th grades, in Riverdale), and Fieldston Upper (9th–12th grades, in Riverdale). Tuition and fees for ECFS were $60,595 for the 2022-2023 school year and $63,020 for the 2023-2024 school year. [3][4]


Workingmen's school in 1893
Ethical Culture in New York City
Felix Adler, c. 1913

The school opened in 1878 as a free kindergarten, founded by Felix Adler at the age of 24. In 1880, elementary grades were added, and the school was then called the Workingman's School. By 1890 the school's academic reputation encouraged many more wealthy parents to seek it out, and the school was expanded to accommodate the upper-class as well, and began charging tuition; in 1895 the name changed to "The Ethical Culture School", and in 1903 the New York Society for Ethical Culture became its sponsor. Fieldston awards over $15 million in tuition-based financial aid to 22% of the student body.[5][4]

One of the early faculty members was American sociologist Lewis Hine.

In March 1970, about 60 students occupied the administration building in protest to demand that more black and Puerto Rican students be admitted to the school. They also aimed to have a greater number of minority courses, teachers, advisors, employees. The school agreed to some of the student demands.[6][7]

Recent developments[edit]

Beginning in 2015, the school began separating children for mandatory weekly "affinity group" meetings based on their self-identified race, to discuss issues of race and bias. The experimental trial program was met with controversy from some Fieldston parents.[8][9]

In February 2019, a video that is believed to be created years previously was discovered by administrators after it was shared during a dispute between students. The students in the video use derogatory and racist language.[10] Students involved who were still enrolled in the school were punished; however, some students who thought the actions were not enough staged a sit-in. The students presented the administrators with demands that included increased racial bias training, more faculty of color, the more students of color recruitment, and a required ethnic studies course; the students' demands were agreed to and are planned to be implemented.[11]

The school also attracted attention in November 2019 after it hosted a guest speaker who compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Holocaust, a statement which was denounced as antisemitic,[12] including two Reform Jewish rabbis who spoke at the school in the wake of the controversy and subsequently published a New York Times editorial about the incident.[13]

In January 2020, the school fired a tweeting Jewish teacher who opposed the invitation of two speakers on anti-Semitism because they were, according to him, "white" and Zionists.[14] Some parents asked for the teacher's reinstatement.[15]


The core of their educational program is the study and practice of ethics which is infused throughout the interdisciplinary curriculum. Whole-child pedagogy attempts to nurture the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social growth of every student. [16]

Fieldston terminated its participation in the Advanced Placement Program in 2002 to give its faculty the freedom to offer more innovative, challenging, and thought-provoking material. Students can take AP exams, but the school no longer officially sponsors such courses.[17]


As of 2023, Fieldston has 60 junior varsity and varsity athletic teams in the middle and upper schools. Student athletes have won 26 state and 65 league titles since the year 2000. Teams are part of the Ivy Preparatory School League and include:[18]

Girls Varsity Volleyball won the 2023 New York State Independent School (NYSAIS) Championship after having an undefeated season with 21 wins. [19] [20]

Student life[edit]

At the two lower schools and in the middle school, students can participate in a variety of before and after-school programs, including fencing, cooking, golf, robotics, chess, and many sports.

In the Upper and Middle Schools, there are more than 80 student-led clubs, affinity groups, and service-learning organizations.[21]

Student publications[edit]

The Fieldston News is Fieldston Upper's student-run newspaper.[22]

Peer schools[edit]

Ethical Culture Fieldston is a part of the Ivy Preparatory School League,[23] with many of New York City's elite private schools. The three high schools Fieldston, Riverdale, and Horace Mann together are known as the "Hill schools,"[24] as all three (sometimes rivals) are located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, on a hilly area above Van Cortlandt Park.

Notable alumni and former students[edit]

See List of Ethical Culture Fieldston School alumni

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ECFS; Tuition, Fees & Financial Aid". ECFS. Retrieved March 25, 2024.
  2. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School: Admissions General FAQ". ecfs.org. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  3. ^ "ECFS: Tuition and Financial Aid". ecfs.org. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions About Our Admissions Process". ECFS. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School: Financial Aid". Archived from the original on July 2, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  6. ^ Webster, Bayard (March 24, 1970). "60 Students Seize Fieldston School". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Fieldston Board Threatens Expulsion of Protesters for Future Disruptions of the School". The New York Times. April 8, 1970.
  8. ^ Miller, Lisa. "Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?", The Cut, May 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Cooper, Sean (December 18, 2019). "Pride and Prejudice at Fieldston". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  10. ^ Algar, Selim (February 25, 2019). "Bronx private school students caught using racist, homophobic language on video". New York Post. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  11. ^ Algar, Selim (March 14, 2019). "Protest over racist private school video ends in student victory". New York Post. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Eliza. "Fieldston, Elite Private School, Faces Backlash From Jewish Parents", The New York Times, January 10, 2020.
  13. ^ Hirsch, Ammiel and Joshua Davidson. "The Anti-Israel Craze Hits High School." The New York Times. 16 January 2020.
  14. ^ JTA, Ben Sales: Elite N.Y. Prep School Fires Teacher Who Posted anti-Zionist Tweets In: Haaretz, 11 January 2020.
  15. ^ Taylor, Kate (July 12, 2017). "Accusations and Rancor as Elite School's Leader Departs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School Core Tenets". New York City. Retrieved January 8, 2024.
  17. ^ Zhao, Yilu (February 1, 2002). "High School Drops Its A.P. Courses, And Colleges Don't Seem to Mind". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  18. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School". ecfsathletics.org. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  19. ^ "Girls Volleyball Bracket 2023".
  20. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School Girls Varsity Volleyball Fall 2023-2024 Schedule".
  21. ^ "After School and Summer Programs". Ethical Culture Fieldston School. Retrieved January 18, 2024.
  22. ^ [1] Ethical Culture Fieldston School ~ the Fieldston Review
  23. ^ Skelding, Conor (December 11, 2015). "About 15 percent of Fieldston's 2015 grads enrolled at an Ivy". Politico PRO. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  24. ^ "Riverdale". fieldston-district. Retrieved February 21, 2020.

External links[edit]