One of the hottest topics in education these days is “teaching to the test.” Editorials around the country both support and refute the idea that teachers and curriculums should focus their attention on getting students to pass a slew of standardized tests. Much of this controversy stems from the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law, which required all public schools to test students in grades two-12 in reading, math, and science. Schools that don’t make “adequate yearly progress” in these areas are subject to sanctions including loss of federal funds and a possible restructuring of the school.
No matter which side you’re on, it’s clear that one of the great attractions of private schools is that they don’t have to bow to this pressure — and can focus on different styles of learning. In and around the Valley, there is a wide range of private schools. From the rigorous New York Military Academy to traditional college prep institutions; from parochial schools to a facility that serves only dyslexic students; there’s a good chance that one of these is the right choice for your child. Our cover story fills you in on everything you need to know about more than 25 schools — including educational philosophy, tuition, teacher/student ratio, and the unique programs each one offers. I was particularly interested to learn that many private schools are actually decreasing the number of AP classes they offer. It will be a long time before I have to send 17-month-old Lily to high school, but it’s nice to know that there are so many options in addition to public schools. (Now, if you’ll each just send in $50 a month, I’ll get her education fund started!)
While education is of paramount importance to parents everywhere, summer vacation is of great interest to kids everywhere. Luckily, our guide to summer camps proves that fun-in-the-sun and learning are not mutually exclusive. There are literally hundreds of camps in the Valley, from traditional sleep-away programs to day sessions that focus on every possible interest, including music, sailing, ecology, horseback riding, and even lacrosse. Not only will your little campers learn new skills, but more importantly, they’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience they’ll remember for a lifetime. Working at a Connecticut sleep-away camp when I was a teenager was truly one of the great experiences of my youth; I made lifelong friends and learned all types of valuable lessons (including that, if push comes to shove, I can eat pretty much anything).
Of course, Valentine’s Day takes place this month, so you might need to plan a date for your sweetie (or potential sweetie). While anyone can make a reservation at a fancy restaurant — and I suggest you do, as there are plenty of top-notch ones around here — you may want to up the ante by trying something new. (Hint: hold hands with your honey on an indoor Ferris wheel). Check out our suggestions for Great Dates here.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor In Chief