Thursday, March 13, 2008

Public or Private? The Chestnut Hill Local angle

In this week's Chestnut Hill Local, reporter Kristin Pazulski delves into parents' thought process in choosing private vs. public school. Well, that's what it seems to say. It's really more about why parents choose private school without looking at their neighborhood public school.

And her big conclusion? "Much of a parent’s decision to choose private over public has to do with perception." Really? The Local did a great job of perpetuating the perception of a handful of Chestnut Hill parents who never looked inside a public school. Their perceptions are that their neighborhood school, Jenks, is "dangerous" and unclean, with a substandard curriculum.

The Local seemed unable to locate any parents whose kids attend Jenks, the neighborhood public school in Chestnut Hill. Perhaps that's because they found their sources, "In a series of interviews by the Local at various open house events at local private schools..." Had they made the effort - like maybe...I dunno...stood outside the school and talked to parents in the morning or afternoon...I'm sure they would have found that, like Henry families, parents who have kids at Jenks find it to be safe, educationally sound, and a nurturing environment.

No school is right for every kid or every family. Henry isn't, and in Chestnut Hill, Jenks isn't. The point is: parents can't make an informed decision about a school if they've never bothered to talk to parents who attend the school, or gone into the school to see what it's really like.

1 comment:

Richard Weishaupt said...

As a long term Jenks parent (my kids spent a combined total of 10 years at Jenks and our family spent weeks of time there working on the playground (I was on the playground board), I have to say that the "safety" concerns mentioned repeatedly in the article are completely baseless. Jenks has an extraordinarily good record on safety and virtually no reports of school violence. In our time there, including time spent in the class room as volunteers (my wife taught poetry there) and I taught classes on law to the MG program we had ample opportunity to observe the students. Not once did we ever see anything remotely resembling a safety issue. The students were well behaved (although chatty the way you would expect in any classroom) and proud of their school. The older kids were very conscious of their duty to look out for the younger kids -- a trait that made Jenks a particularly nice environment. I realize this is largely a question of perception, and I don't know the people raising the "safety concerns" or what is behind those concerns but I can personally attest to the fact that such concerns are totally without support.