Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Penultimate Dilemma--Choosing a High School for your Son

It's only January and there are still six months of school remaining, but for some parents and students the focus is moving from elementary school to high school. Applications will soon have to be sent in and interviews gone through. Some of you may have already gone through the process of choosing a high school for your son; some of you may be in the process now; others have that "joy" yet ahead. The following is offered as a kind of roundup of reasons that others have used in choosing a high school, and may or may not be helpful in your own search. Note to parents of girls: many of the statements below apply to both sexes. I flipped a coin and the males got the posting.

It is the only high school in our city.
It is the local high school so there is no long commute.
The school has a dormitory so our son will have no commute.
It is the feeder high school for the elementary school my son attended.
Its hashkofoh fits with our family hashkofoh.
The menahel has a reputation for running a wonderful school.
The menahel has a wonderful personal reputation.
The school has a wonderful reputation in the general frum world.
It is where all my son’s friends are also going.
It is not where my son’s friends will be going.
It offers learning on a number of levels from advanced to students with learning problems.
It takes in students of only one type of learning level/background.
It offers programs for special needs students.
It is affordable.
It offers liberal scholarships.
It is the school which my other sons attend/attended.
My husband/brothers/father went to this school
It offers advanced limudei chodesh opportunities.
It offers advanced lumudei chol opportunities.
It offers a wide range of secular courses.
It treats each student as an individual.
The school places an emphasis on midos tovos.
The school does not allow rebbeim to hit their students under any circumstances.
The quality of the various rebbeim is equally good.
There is a special rebbe in this school that we want our son to have.
Where our son goes to school will be our decision, although we may ask our son for his input.
The decision of where our son goes to school will be mainly his, although we will give our input.
The school matches the frumkeit level of our family.
The school is of a higher frumkeit level than our family is.
We fit the image the school has for what its families/students should be.
We do not fit the image the school has for what its families/students should be.
We will take whatever school accepts our son.
We are not sure about this school but are willing to try it for a year and see what happens.
Students in this school avoid most of the problems seen in the outside world (drugs, drinking, inappropriate boy/girl behavior etc.)
Boys in this school generally “stay on the derech.”
The boys from this school are all accepted into the “finest” bais medrash programs in Israel and in the US.
Boys from this school attract the kinds of shidduchim we will want for our son.
The boys in this school are the type we want our son to have as friends for life.
The school encourages the boys to go to college.
The school discourages the boys from going to college.
The school neither encourages nor discourages college attendance.
The vast majority of boys in the school will eventually go to college.
The vast majority of boys in the school will not attend college.
Boys from this high school have a choice of any and all colleges they will apply to.
I am aware of any problems that the school has had in the past and recently.
The school places different but equal emphasis on limudie kodesh and lumudei chol.
The school is not known as a pressure cooker.
The school holds the students to high expectations in their learning.
The school holds the students to high expectations in secular studies.
The school's calendar fits in with the calendar of our other children's schools
The school's calendar fits in with our work schedules
The school is not coed.
The school is coed.
If in New York, the school is known for “making sure” its graduates all get their Regents Diplomas.
We want a high school that does not tell the students to ignore what their parents may have told them.
We want a school that protects the physical well being of its students by offering enough recess and gym.
The secular studies teachers are all college graduates and/or certified teachers.
The school takes in only rebbeim who have attended it themselves.
The school has a specific program of chesed and tzedaka activities which students are required to participate in.
The school encourages a healthy lifestyle through what it offers vis a vis courses in nutrition and health and through the offerings in its lunch program and snack sales.
The school takes the time to vet the moral characteristics and qualities of its teachers before hiring them.
Learning takes place in Hebrew and English.
Learning takes place in Yiddish and English.
Learning takes place in Yiddish, Hebrew and English.
Everyone in the social set I belong to sends their boys to this school.
No one in my social set sends their boys to this school.
Students from this school go to the camps I want my son to attend.
I do not want this school but my son very much does.
I want this school but my son very much does not.
We have researched this school thoroughly and have come to the conclusion that the school meets all of our needs.
We have done no research, basing our decision on the school’s name and general community reputation.
Our son is too young to be responsible for himself in a dormitory situation, so he will attend a local school, regardless of how we feel about the school.
We are afraid for our son’s safety, so he will not attend a dormitory high school.
For heavens sake, it’s only high school! It either will work it or it won’t, and we have time to worry then.


SuperRaizy said...

"The school takes in only rebbeim who have attended it themselves"-
I've never heard of that. Are there really schools out there that have this policy?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if any school is 100% made up of teachers who are graduates of their own school, but many do only take rebbis from certain yeshivot and not others, their own included. Know many YU musmachim teaching at the Mir? But there are plenty of Mir musmachim teaching at the Mir. I would imagine it's a question of hiring someone whose hashkofot match the school's exactly.

Knitter of shiny things said...

The school does not allow rebbeim to hit their students under any circumstances.

Is rebbeim hitting students standard practice in schools? The fact that you'd have to take this into consideration instead of being able to take for granted that rebbeim won't hit students is a bit disturbing.

Ya'akob ibn Avi Mori said...

I remember when I was in Middle School,( really not long ago, late 90's) that there were a few kids who's parents gave permission for the Rebbi to hit them, and this was in a coed school not in the immdeiate NYC metro area....

Anonymous said...

Rabbeim hitting students ...

Compared to some other things, hitting might not be so bad. I spent one year of High School (as a Freshman) in BTA (the former YU high school branch in Brooklyn located where Shulamit now resides. My Rabbi never hit anyone, but he did embarrass kids quite often, and was especially vicious to one slow kid in particular. It really was pretty bad. Well, being the resourceful kid that I was, and having received a portable (ha, you wouldn't believe what huge things passed for portable in those days) battery operated tape recorder as a bar mitzvah gift from an uncle a few months earlier, you can guess what I did. I hid the tape recorder in my bag for a couple of days and clicked it on when the Rabbi began his outrageous taunting of the slow kid. Then I brought the tape recorder to my father (who happened to have been very well acquainted with the principal due to growing up in Washington Heights together) who brought it to school and met with the principal. Nobody on earth knew about that tape except for me, my father, my mother, and the principal (and maybe the Rabbi if the principal shared its existence with him, but I doubt it).

After that meeting, the Rabbi suddenly began to behave much better in shiur, not perfectly, but definitely much better. Of course it didn't really matter (except for the few kids that he picked on) because the school was on a downward spiral, I switched to MTA the next year for my Sophomore year, and a few years later the school closed down.

There are some things worse than hitting. That Rabbi never picked on me, to the contrary he liked me, because I spoke/understood Hebrew (after living in Israel for a while as a child) and did very well in his subjects, but listening to him pick on some of the others, especially the slow kid was terrible!


miriamp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
miriamp said...

I'm going with "My son's Rebbe, who knows him really well, recommended this school, and we trust his judgment."

Of course, we will carefully examine the academics, hashkafa and social environment, but it will still most probably be from a short list provided by the teacher. This particular teacher makes a point of vetting various schools and matching them to kids. Baruch Hashem, because I wouldn't even know where to start! My oldest boy just started middle school, so we have a couple of years but only that.

We like the girls' HS here and plan for them to attend it, (there isn't a local boys' one) but if it turns out to not be a good fit for one or more, then of course we won't force our girls to stay here.

G said...

Its hashkofoh fits with our family hashkofoh.
The school matches the frumkeit level of our family.
We fit the image the school has for what its families/students should be.

You lost me

ProfK said...

Some families feel more comfortable when a school and the family home "match" in terms of the type of hashkafah they both evince. The school could feel, for example, that computers and computer instruction are "ossur" while the family feels that computers are okay. The student could get caught in the middle of a bad tug of war. Re the frumkeit level, you could also read that as "Jewish observance lifestyle." To put it another way, would a YCQ family be comfortable with a Mir high school lifestyle?

As to the "fit the image" comment, schools are becoming more and more polarized. They've become "brand" conscious to an almost ridiculous degree. When a student announces that he is a student at X high school, X high school wants to make sure that the world sees the picture it wants out there of what an X high school boy should look/talk/act like. Schools are becoming less and less inclined to "take a chance" that an incoming student might turn out to be a credit to the school--they already want them entering that way. After all, what would the world say/think if a Q student told people that he was at X high school.

Orthonomics said...

Ah, the beauty of limited choices: harder to "brand" a student.

Lion of Zion said...

i have a lot of comments here, but i will just limit it to

"For heavens sake, it’s only high school! It either will work it or it won’t, and we have time to worry then."

i would accept this except for the fact that this is too casual an approach for something that can reach 30k a year.
for that type of money a parent is not being fiscally responsible without taking it much more seriously. not that we did any research, as where we live we basically fall into the category of "We will take whatever school accepts our son."

G said...

Sorry, I was unclear.

I meant what is the difference btwn the 3