What would happen if parents sent their kids to day schools that consciously aligned with their household’s affinity for a particular denomination or attitude toward Jewish tradition or Israel or Hebrew language instruction – regardless of geographic proximity?

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I pondered this last night after a conversation with a colleague who, as a downtown resident, recounted how he agonized over whether to send his child to the Reform day school further uptown or the Conservative day school a block away from “the Reformie”.  What struck me about this particular dilemma was threefold:  How could one so easily substitute one school for the other?  Though they are practically on top of each other on the Bathurst corridor, ideologically, they are miles apart.  And, more importantly, how could my colleague consider either of these schools as valid options for his child when he self-identified as neither Reform nor Conservative?  The only heartening realization here was that the quality of education and teaching seemed to be “controlled” – that is, the individual assumed the teaching/education would be equally good at either school.  Thumbs up, teachers!

And so, I wondered:  Do the considerations that drive day school attendance mirror the considerations one has when buying a house?  Do folks choose a school based on where one’s friends live, proximity to essential amenities, location, location, location (and did I mention location?) and, of course, curb appeal and prestige?

And if these, then, are the considerations of (some) parents, why do schools persist in assuming that parents (on the whole) are making an ideologically driven educational decision when, in fact, some-to-many are making a real-estate decision… ?  And how does one design curriculum and recruit the best role-modeling-teachers when, for not-a-small-number of folks, all that they are really looking for in a school is just a nice house for their kids?

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