City magnet schools’ open house (Nov. 5)

November 3, 2009

We were childless when we first moved to St. Louis, so the dismal state of the local public education system was an abstract concept for a long time. Now, eight years later, M. is in first grade and I’m no longer finding it quite so abstract! I don’t have the instinctive knee-jerk “no” reaction when someone asks why we don’t send him to a public city school — I’ve been around long enough to know there are options within the system, and to have friends who’re choosing those options. But I’m still mostly a critic.

For example, the open houses at the magnet schools on Thursday (Nov. 5) have pros and cons. I’m all for open houses in a realistic setting, but this one is during school hours, and it’s not realistic for me to take off school and drive my kid to all the schools that we might be interested in viewing. Yes, the district does host weekend open houses for its magnet schools — as I discovered belatedly when I looked into the one tomorrow. If you’re thinking of enrolling your child in a magnet school, you’ll need to be more on the ball than I am: The application deadline for some of the schools is Nov. 13, among them Kennard, which is the creme de la creme for city parents even remotely considering a public education for their kids.

I have nothing personally against the schools’ marketing department — indeed, I have worked with them in the past and no doubt will again on various freelance pieces. But I wish they had the capability to do a full-force push. For instance, when I looked back at publicity about the weekend open house in October, the one I missed, it doesn’t mention that there will be another open house this month — and it also lacks any context to help parents sort through the schools based on quality, demand, discipline issues, etc. The newspaper ran essentially the same info as the press release.

Yes, I realize that the communications department needs to support all its schools. But that democratic approach stifles them a little too, because we parents are left with the idea that all the schools are roughly equal, which they’re not, and that beige image is not enough to get us to consider enrolling our kids.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Thursday’s open houses, call 314-633-5200.

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One Response to “City magnet schools’ open house (Nov. 5)”

  1. Heath Harris Says:

    Thanks for posting about this. We took our 8th grader to Gateway Institute of Technology magnet high school this morning and liked what we saw. We also missed the big weekend Open House last month, and I was very disappointed about that.

    A Gateway student in the senior class gave the tour. I would have liked a bit more interaction with administrators and teachers, but they had to deal with the current students as this was a school day, as you mentioned. That said, we did learn a lot and both parents and potential student came away with a positive impression.

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