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Monday, March 14, 2011

School Rants

With the proliferation of all sorts of schools in Metro Manila, I find it really difficult to sort out the bad apples from the good ones. Last year, Stan and I were hunting for a school for Naima near our place. We found a supposedly international school in Malate with tuition at P150,000. Honestly, tuition WAS steep but given its proximity to my workplace and my mother-in-law's house, we thought that we could work out the tuition and just tighten our spending on unnecessary shopping.
So off we went to the school for a school tour. First danger sign - the school was not at all associated with Harvard University but upon entry, there was a huge sign of "HARVARD" in the foyer. Apparently, the directress studied in Harvard - though I wasn't sure if she studied Masters or just took some certificate course (like Sen. Miriam). But I really found it in bad taste for the school to be plastering "Harvard" signs when it was not at all accredited with that school. Next, during the school tour, the directress was in school but she never met us. It was just a receptionist (with bad English at that!) who took us around the school. Third warning sign - I was able to get their brochure and noted how they were affiliated with about 5-6 international organizations. One of the organizations was based in Cavite so I called this organization and asked if XXX school was appreciated. The organization was shocked because it was the first time they heard of that school and they confirmed that the school was not a member.
Acting on my suspicious, I emailed another organization (listed on the Malate school's website) based in Washington, D.C. and the organization replied that the school was not at all accredited! But I wanted to give the school a chance since I really wanted to put Naima there. So I emailed the directress to seek a clarification. No reply - so scratched that school off my list.
Next school rant - this time, it's a school in Mandaluyong City. I had a relative who was diagnosed as a high-functioning Asperger's individual. He was about to enter grade school so we were trying to look for a school he could go to. I suggested this school in Mandaluyong because it was highly recommended by friends. So late last year, we did school tours and obtained details on application. Early this year, the dad asked the school again if they were still accepting applications for special students. He was informed yes and the student will be assessed if he will be suitable. We were also informed that the school has an attached preschool and students from that school will be given priority for entry into the grade school. However, he was assured that applications were still being accepted. So off we went to complete the requirements, doing several tests and evaluations, on hearing, from the developmental pedia, recommendations from his old school, etc. etc.
After completing the requirements, the dad submitted them to the school (in mid-February) along with the P500 application fee. A week after, the dad followed up the schedule for assessment and was informed that the directress received the application and wrote "QUOTA FOR SPED IS FILLED FROM XXX PRESCHOOL". We were surprised since the dad had confirmed that slots were still available. I asked a friend to intervene and this friend emailed the directress. The directress told her that the student did not pass the initial assessment. Again we were surprised since this was different from what the admissions office told the dad when he followed up.
So I wrote an email to the directress with the following excerpts:
Anyway, I just want to emphasize my concern. My concern is not that STUDENT was rejected or what but the reason for rejection. You see, non-acceptance because the student was not qualified v. non-acceptance because the slots are filled are two different things.

If you had written on the application form that STUDENT did not pass the initial assessment, then that would have been crystal clear that STUDENT was not made out for THIS BIG SCHOOL. Instead, however, you wrote "QUOTA FOR SPED IS FILLED FROM AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL".

This was why I was dismayed. It appears then that even if the quota is already filled, you would continue to accept the applications and P500 payment - because apparently, the quota is really not filled but instead, STUDENT just did not make the cut.

I do believe it would've been crystal clear to us if you had instead written that STUDENT did not make the initial cut, rather than writing down that the "Quota for SPED is filled."
The directress replied, excerpts below:
After reading his report, we determined that he was not qualified to be a candidate to meet the quota for SPED students for the Prep program.

There are currently 5 SPED applicants from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL. As I wrote, there may be at the most, 3 slots for children with SPED needs in PREP. That number is determined by the number of sections in the Prep program. We may have 2 or 3 sections next school year. Currently, the 5 SPED children from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL are more qualified than STUDENT. Also, only 2 or 3 of those children will be accepted in THIS BIG SCHOOL. (emphasis supplied)
However, I still was not satisfied so I requested for a clarification by sending a follow-up email:
"After reading his report, we determined that he was not qualified to be a candidate to meet the quota for SPED students for the Prep program. "

has a different meaning from:
I wanted to emphasize to the directress that their admissions procedure was very UNCLEAR and I really felt that my relative had been fleeced of the P500 application fee. If there were more than enough students from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL for the SPED quota of BIG SCHOOL, then why did they still accept applications from new students, along with the P500 application fee?

I'm really frustrated with my experience with these 2 schools. I've also heard and read about other horror stories from other parents. And this makes me wonder if DepEd is regulating schools in the Metro, given the high charges and fees that these schools charge parents. There should really be a consumer hotline for parents to report unethical practices of schools!

*Please private message me if you want to know the names of these 2 schools.


Shalumette said...

Yikes. Scratch those. Have you tried Reedley in QC for the relative? I knows someone there and I think they specialize on children with special needs. You should check it out :)

Jenny said...

thank you for the tip. will check out reedley.

Jenny said...

Reedley doesn't accept special students. From their FAQ:
Q: Does Reedley accept students with learning difficulties (LD or SPED) or special education needs?
A: Currently, Reedley does not have the facilities and programs to accommodate and teach these types of students.

Roxanne said...

Oh Jenny! You're still soo nice to keep the names of the school private. Had it been me, I would've published their names! They don't deserve your kindness!

Jenny said...

thanks roxanne! i'm just prudent - don't want any libel suits floating about ;) besides, experience of other parents may be different. but i do hope that this post gets to the admin of the respective schools so they will think their policies and/or unethical practices.

Rone Valles said...

Yes, you are very good to not name names. I would have named them as well. But I think I can guess the Mandaluyong school because it sounds like the school of my kids that I love. But I am not here to defend them.

Finding a school for a special child is very difficult due to the limited slots so I can't even begin to understand how frustrating it is for your family. I do know for a fact that Reedley does accept special kids, maybe you should give them a call. Also, Brightsparks beside it and Multiple Intelligence in Katipunan might be worth looking into.

Good luck!

Jenny said...

rone, a lot of moms like that school which is why i suggested it. i think they should've been upfront in saying that STUDENT did not pass the assessment (or meet the quota quality) rather than saying that there were not enough slots (quota quantity). with the way the principal handled the situation, I felt that FATHER was discriminated (he is a single father) which is why I was compelled to write this post.
i suggested another school in pasig city. that school was quite upfront and told us, our quota for SPED is full BUT if you want, you can still have your STUDENT assessed and wait until after April as there is a chance that the priority SPED students (from the lower years) will not enroll. this way, the FATHER will be submitting his son's documents, with eyes wide open.
anyway, FATHER already checked MI school. I will tell him your other suggestions as well.
Thanks for visiting!

Shalumette said...

I just read this. Talaga? Let me ask one of the teachers there. She does one of the special classes eh.

Jenny said...

thanks! haven't called them actually, just reviewed their FAQ on the website.

ocmominmanila said...

That school in Malate is so disingenuous!

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