“America’s Best” ~ Another Perspective

By Liz Perelstein

President,  School Choice International

The article entitled “America’s Best Prep Schools” that appeared in Forbes (April 30)  hurts kids.  The article relies on the flawed assumption that the best school for one child will suit another.  Anyone who understands children or child development is aware that not every child thrives in the same academic environment. Despite this obvious reality, impressionable but well intentioned parent readers of this article will feel, more than ever, that their child is being shortchanged by receiving inferior education.  Parents today already use every tool in their arsenal to “get their children in” to the schools that someone has identified as the “top” or the “best.”  The sad result has been revealed to me in countless conversations with private school admissions officers and psychologists: “getting in” isn’t enough. These are the children who fail, get counseled out or inevitably suffer low self-esteem when even daily tutoring can’t help them succeed in an incompatible environment. Is it responsible to foster the prep school frenzy – at the expense of children – by simplistically elevating a handful of prep-schools while effectively diminishing all others?

Moreover, using university admissions as the major criterion for rating schools is imperfect, at best.  While there is little doubt that small classes, individualized attention and access to faculty provide students with unparalleled opportunities, are these the key to Ivy League pipeline that these schools enjoy?  Might the large endowments boasted by this “top 20” (ironically another, and self-reinforcing, criterion for rating the schools) suggest that these prep school parents may be disproportionately represented among alumni and major contributors to these universities, a known factor in college admissions?

Parents need to learn to ask the right questions to assess whether these schools are right for their children.

Unfortunately, parents and students take these lists very literally; they reinforce the natural insecurity in human nature and encourage those seeking prep schools to focus exclusively on the name brand. Do children need – or even benefit from – country club like campuses?  Should parents be looking at access to facilities rather than facilities per se?  Who gets to play on the 15 tennis courts or the eight lane competition swimming pool or the golf course?  Will their child have that opportunity?  Do these schools use their lavish facilities to teach sportsmanship or to win?  Is the risk-taking behavior and self-confidence encouraged by favorable teacher/student ratios undercut by the exclusivity and competitive spirit that mark some of these schools?  Parents need to learn to ask the right questions to assess whether these schools are right for their children. Forbes has successfully promoted its magazine through this article.  Can it use its prominence to promote kids?


3 Responses to “America’s Best” ~ Another Perspective

  1. Karen says:

    Excellent points!!

  2. Mario says:

    There are too many autospun articles loaded with spam
    on the net. How do I know, because I had to spend Twenty or so minutes to actually
    come across this site… it was the only one that had really pertinent
    info. I can’t believe what is happening to google.

  3. When the credit comes due if the amount of money isn’t available the borrower will likely then ought to get another loan that may cause more fees bluehost hosting coupon the
    more financial need you have, the larger the opportunity you might
    have of landing a grant for single parents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: