Westchester Sounds off on Our September 2006 Issue

Cover Concern                     

I take exception with your September 2006 cover concept, which portrays two images of high school girls, ostensibly from private and public institutions. I understand you were trying to set up a visual contrast—dress code vs. no dress code—but I think your pictures reinforce a stereotype that today is insupportable and offensive. The “private school girl” looks prim and proper; the “public school girl” is wearing a tank top that exposes her midriff.
What are you suggesting? That private school kids are wholesome and respectable and more likely to achieve success, while public school kids are indecent and lacking in academic focus?
As a high school student who has attended both private (The Masters School) and public (Fox Lane High School) institutions, I can say with some authority that these images are an oversimplification and, in most cases, just plain incorrect.
Katie Pine
(Senior at Fox Lane High School)
Bedford Hills

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Your article “Private vs. Public Schools” raises excellent points about the current realities in the world of college applications. It even highlights students’ personal experiences, while offering suggestions from top professionals in the educational field.
However, when I glanced at the cover, I was immediately taken aback. This image so negatively depicts high school students, no matter what type of school they attend, that it is offensive to everyone. The stereotypical preppie, adorned with both pearls and a supercilious look, does not fit most of the private school students we know.
And what about the public school “hipster” in her revealing tank top, and ripped jeans? While a very few students may fit into this gross stereotype, the majority of students do not.
We need to stop labeling teenagers and help them look beyond stereotypes.
Madlyn Inserra
Mount Kisco

Editor’s response: Both “students” are actually the same girl, dressed differently to suggest the two educational tracks. The crossed-arm posture, the model’s expressions, and the almost back-to-back pose are meant to suggest the competing choices of public and private school. The clothing is meant to make it easy to identify who’s who. Any other inferences are entirely unintended.

Thanks for including the student essays with your story on “Public vs. Private Schools.” As an Ossining resident, I was most interested in the perspectives of two Ossining High School graduates who are entering Harvard. In fact, there are eight Ossining H.S. graduates who are currently Harvard undergraduates. If you judge a school merely by standardized test scores, a school like Ossining appears to be average—at best. Ivy League admissions may not be a better gauge to judge a high school, but it suggests something interesting going on that merits more reporting.
Bob Minzesheimer
Ossining

In your feature on Public vs. Private schools, six recent graduates tell how their high school experiences prepared them for admission to the college of their choice. Not one of the students acknowledged the assistance of the faculty member directly responsible for their successful college placement.
Isn’t that curious?
John Stafford
Rye

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