By John Long, Head of School
School consultant John Littleford returned to Post Oak last week to explore that question. Littleford met with six groups of parents over a two-day period, and POS trustee Stuart Dow met with another. Altogether, 85 parents joined the discussions. This was not a sales pitch for a Post Oak high school, but rather, an effort to discern the depth of support for an idea that first emerged in parent focus groups this past fall, and to hear both what parents like about that idea as well as their concerns.
For a taste of parent responses, here are several e-mails that I received in the days before and after Littleford’s visit:
When I first got the flyer about the Post Oak High School, I was very intrigued. I have three kids in Primary, so I have a very special interest if this high school endeavor comes into fruition. I went to the meeting today headed by John Littleford. His first question was, “How interested are you in having a Post Oak High School?” All the parents were then asked to voice out what they like about the idea of a Post Oak High School and their concerns. As I sat there listening, I suddenly had a realization. I send my kids to Post Oak School because I believe in the Montessori philosophy of raising a child. Why can’t I just let them continue to grow in this learning environment? I got this intense fear that if this Post Oak High School does not happen, I might have to send my kids to a traditional classroom with its day in and day out drudgery and humdrum. Maybe we should rephrase Mr. Littleford’s question. “We are going to have a Post Oak High School in 2012, what can we, as a community, do to make this happen?” I see the creation of the Post Oak High School as the beginning of something beautiful… A challenge that we should all take for our kids’ future… The time has come... Let’s take the first step and move forward.
Sincerely, Amelia Ng
You may have already heard this speech by Ken Robinson. If not, give it a listen (link below). Bonus is he has a wonderful sense of humor.I think you will find it on point with your work at Post Oak and consideration of a high school program.
Best, Aaron Thomas ( 's dad)
I am personally very interested in this. I’d love to be able to send there—we’ve grown to love Montessori in general and POS in particular, and to despair of our options for high school—there seems to be a shortage (as usual, the result one way or the other of state intervention—whenever there is a shortage you can bet on this) of good high schools. And the ones available are difficult to get into, without politics—and suppose we got
into ...the idea of the conventional schooling, extreme competitiveness, too much homework, etc., does not entice me. (Though I like a lot of its rigor and the emphasis on classical education—Greek, Latin, etc.) I honestly think I might just quit working and homeschool at ninth grade if we have no POS High. I am not as negative on homeschooling as most people are—I think it can be excellent; but I personally think a good private Montessori school is a better choice. I’d be happy to participate or give any input if the committee needs it.
Beth, , and I have had some great discussions over the last few days. Beth will hopefully be at one of the Littleford sessions in the morning.For me, this is the bottom line:I think Lauren is a fantastic human being, with a good heart, a real thirst for knowledge, and a great drive to make things better. I credit POS as much as anything else for her ideals, self confidence, and innate ambition.Ever since you introduced us to the Cleveland example, with Lauren and other future students in mind, I can’t think of a more worthwhile effort to work toward. We need students to make it work. You can count on us.I commit today: at least $ toward the POHS capital campaign.
John Littleford’s conclusion? Post Oak has the parent support needed to launch a high school if the board and administration are ready, willing and able to do so. Littleford has worked with literally thousands of schools over the past 25 years, including a number that were evaluating the addition of a high school. He said that he rarely sees schools with such enthusiastic support from its parents – and that he rarely sees schools with such a low level of complaint or criticism. He believes, based on what he heard and what he has observed long-term about schools, that a high school would only strengthen Post Oak.
Were there concerns raised? Yes, by some parents – though most of the concerns were more in the manner of questions about the high school program that appeared to be answerable. The most deep-seated concerns seemed to be from people who feared we migh lose our focus on the existing program – Infant Community through Middle School; that we have issues already on the table and facility enhancements that need to be pursued. Not surprisingly, the question of how we would pay for all of this was a concern form many.
So what’s the bottom line? The board is awaiting Littleford’s formal, written summary, and is also in the process of completing a pro forma business plan for the high school, in order to understand the financial dimensions of the project. It is also considering how the effort to start a high school might impact other school priorities, and readdressing the conclusions of the study done last year on the potential for a Post Oak capital campaign. In an upcoming special session the board will discuss the high school question, determine whether to go forward, and if so, what the next steps would be.
We’ll keep you informed.
© John Long and The Post Oak School
© John Long and The Post Oak School