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[Susan notes: I didn't post the original article because the parents were so self-centered and obnoxious, with no notion of education for the common good. But we see that it provoked excellent letters.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re “Leaving the City for the Schools, and Regretting It” (front page, Nov. 13):

It’s no surprise that a public school education would not pass muster with modern-day super-parents.

Today’s schools have an increasingly broad-based directive. They must comply with tougher state standards while meeting the needs of more children with special education issues; teach English as a second language; and offer enrichment opportunities.

Ironically, despite such a huge mandate, government financing does not increase apace. No wonder parents turn to boutique private schools to find a more individually tailored educational program.

For most, however, public school works. Our three children are students thriving in the very Yorktown Central School District mentioned in your article. Ten years ago, we, too, made the difficult decision to leave New York City and test the waters of suburbia. Our children run a wide gamut in abilities but have encountered a responsive and versatile school district.

Along the way, we have found that it helps to be vested partners in our children’s education, through regular communication with personnel and active involvement in parent-teacher associations.

Education, by its very nature, is a subjective experience for every parent and child.

Terry Keller Naumann

Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Nov. 14, 2006

To the Editor:

In the quest for the best education for their children, parents are learning, to their dismay, that long-held assumptions about schools often turn out to be wrong.

Their disappointment arises largely from the common belief that suburban schools are consistently better than urban schools, and that private schools are intrinsically superior to public schools.

Neither view stands up to scrutiny. Whether schools are private or public, suburban or urban, the major determinants of educational quality are the social, economic and cultural backgrounds of parents. When these factors are accounted for, similarities of schools in a particular community tend to overwhelm differences.

There is no guarantee that parents will find an ideal match for the specific needs and interests of their children anywhere. But the likelihood is enhanced if they keep these facts in mind.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles, Nov. 13, 2006

The writer taught for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was a lecturer in the U.C.L.A. Graduate School of Education.

To the Editor:

It is very naïve for parents to think that public schools in high performing school districts can be compared to private school education.

Public schools will never be a reasonable substitute for private schools. They can’t possibly be if public schools include children with learning and behavioral issues whom private schools are not required to accept.

If you can’t afford to send your child to private schools, any school district will fit the bill as long as you are willing to support your child with your time.

Instead of complaining about what your school hasn’t taught your children, take the initiative and teach them yourself. Learning does not happen only in school.

Angie Lin

Chappaqua, N.Y., Nov. 13, 2006

To the Editor:

How sad is it that a parent turned into a “neurotic mess” when she learned that her kindergartner thought school time was playtime.

As parents of two children, who both went to public schools here in New Jersey and then on to a non-elite college and an Ivy League school, we can tell you that we are most proud of the fact that they are fine, well-adjusted adults who are not only smart but who also still know how to play.

We hope this parent can calm down and enjoy this great time in a child’s life.

Gregory Adamo

Jeanette Adamo

Metuchen, N.J., Nov. 13, 2006

To the Editor:

I read your article about the shortcomings some have found in suburban public schools and would like to present a contrary view based on my very recent interactions with my daughters’ teachers in the Millburn, N.J., public school system.

My fifth grader was out sick on Monday. Her homework was brought to our house by a friend of hers, but my daughter did not understand the assignments. I e-mailed her English teacher at 4:30 p.m. to ask her for advice on how I could better explain the homework to my daughter. Three minutes later, the teacher replied that she would call my house herself and explain the assignment to my daughter. Her math teacher replied to a similar e-mail within an hour.

I can’t imagine teachers being more responsive, whether in public or private schools. What happened on Monday accords with my experience over the years in the Millburn schools.

The teachers really do care, and it shows.

Alan Winkler

Short Hills, N.J., Nov. 14, 2006

multiple authors

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