Dear Mr. Bolandi and Ms. de Koninck:
As Montclair residents, many of whom are parents or guardians of current 5th graders, we write to register our -- and our children's -- disappointment at the district's decision to prohibit current 5th graders from participating in daytime tours of Montclair's three middle schools in the company of their parents or guardians. We ask you to reconsider this decision.
Here in Montclair, the first major academic choice most entering middle schoolers have is the opportunity to participate in, along with their parents or guardians, choosing which middle schools to list as their preferences (or whether to simply attend their assigned feeder schools). Parents and guardians of Montclair 5th graders know that the kids' opportunities to see the middle schools in action weighs heavily in our kids' input regarding which schools to prefer. While electives, extracurricular activities, daily schedules, and facilities are important and quantifiable considerations, there are also intangibles that are critical, if less quantifiable, in determining which school is going to be the best "fit" for a particular child. These include the energy of the student body and the warmth of the faculty. It is difficult if not impossible for kids -- or adults -- to make sense of those intangibles without visiting the schools during the day, when their current students and teachers are present and engaged in the process of learning.
While parents and guardians make the final decision regarding kids' middle school preferences, many families' decision-making will be best informed by giving our kids the opportunity to gather as much information as possible. We want our community's children to have the information they need to provide informed and insightful input into the decision-making process. Further, it helps our children to grow confident in their own decision-making abilities to see how their input is considered and valued by their parents or guardians and their community.
Countless local parents and guardians with children already in middle school, high school, or beyond have shared their anecdotal stories of how they changed -- or confidently reaffirmed -- their middle school preferences based at least in part on their kids' reactions to seeing the middle schools in action. We respectfully request that you afford our children the same opportunity by reconsidering your decision to exclude current 5th graders from the middle school tours.
Parents and guardians of Montclair High School's class of 2023 and members of the wider Montclair community