The Greenwich Time continues to do an excellent job reporting on the town’s schools. This Sunday, the paper will feature a story entitled “Greenwich’s brain drain” where the Time investigates whether or not the town’s public schools “have a problem keeping bright students.”
While there’s much talk about the need to hire and retain excellent teachers to boost Greenwich students’ test scores, do the town’s public schools also have a problem keeping bright students? During his recent budget presentation, Superintendent of Schools Sidney Freund mentioned that preventing high-performing students from defecting to the town’s private schools is one way to increase performance on standardized tests. With about a fifth of Greenwich students attending private schools, we explore how parents decide where to send their children to school and what the public school district can do to stem this “brain drain.”
Students are always going to “defect” to private schools. Many families simply think that they’ll receive a superior education in a better environment. Also, keep in mind the many options that families in Greenwich have when it comes to private schools. The town is fortunate to have so many quality private institutions, therefore it’s not surprising that so many families choose to send their children to these schools. If anything, perhaps it’s surprising that more don’t.
One week ago, Greenwich Time columnist Bob Horton wrote the following:
According to the state Board of Education website, only 73.6 percent of school-age students in Greenwich go to public schools. I say “only” because other affluent towns enjoy much higher percentages. Wilton sends 92.5 percent of its kids to its public schools; Ridgefield is at 91.6 percent, Westport 90.1 percent, Darien 85.3 percent and New Canaan 81.2 percent. And Greenwich’s percentage has fallen even during the last two years when one might have expected an increase because of tough economic times. So it seems the people of Greenwich are voting with their feet.
But how many private schools exist in Wilton, Ridgefield, Westport, Darien, and New Canaan? Families in those “affluent towns” don’t have the options that families in Greenwich have.
Listen, I didn’t step foot in a public school until I became a teacher. I received a great education attending Catholic Schools from kindergarten through graduate school. I’ll always support others who choose the private school route.
Dr. Freund is right when he says that retaining our “high-performing students” will help scores on standardized tests. So will expecting more from our current students.