We offer the following remarks to clarify the aim of the Handbook and the lines of editorial policy that necessarily follow. They are intended to assist readers in understanding our reporting methods and school administrators who feel that their requests for editorial change are overlooked. The following should be read in conjunction with the section How to Read the School Descriptions.
In the Leading Private Schools section, we present - at no cost or obligation to the schools - the information parents and advisors want and ought to know. The statistics are printed as supplied by the schools, whose thorough response to our annual questionnaire enables yearly revisions to be computerized readily and smoothly. Inadequately completed questionnaires jeopardize comprehensive updating of statistics, or even retention in the Leading Private Schools section.
A long-standing purpose of the paragraph descriptions has been to provide a historical summary of each school and, consequently, of independent education. Growth is organic, even among institutions, and the recounting of previous trends often helps to convey the tenor of a school. Consistent support has served to strengthen this intent. Our annual invitation to schools to supply new and interesting material has continued to elicit many useful suggestions - as well as a significant number of protestations. From an aggregate of information we select those aspects that seem to most effectively characterize a school in the limited space available.
In revising the paragraphs, all suggestions are carefully reviewed, but our editorial staff reserves the right to determine which changes are pertinent and significant in keeping with our long tradition of impartial reporting of facts. Suggested revisions often cite a school's stimulating atmosphere, emphasis on basic skills, small classes and concern for the individual. While such statements may be undeniably valid, their reiteration for school after school is out of place in a compendium serving persons who seek reliable, specific information. Moreover, many of these generalizations are evidenced in a more focused way by the statistics reported above the paragraphs.
We often receive the broad remark that a particular item, or even whole entry, is obsolete, superseded or misleading, but without a specific reason or supporting evidence. Or a school may submit a totally new fact without indicating how it relates to a whole series of other facts long included in the write-up, thus resulting in more questions than answers. When error or new information is clearly identified and substantiated, we endeavor to respond quickly and appropriately.
The technique of vanity publishing - where length of listing is determined by purchase of advertising space - has never been part of the policy in publishing the Handbook. No school pays for a listing in the book, and space is allotted solely on the basis of our judgment of a schools interest to our audience. Nor does a schools purchase of space in the autonomous Private Schools Illustrated section affect the length or content of its free listing.
The 84th edition of the Handbook comprises free listings of 1608 schools. In addition, more than 200 schools elect to reserve space in the Private Schools Illustrated section. Through the Illustrated Announcements, schools are able to stress features they consider most significant in describing their programs and aims. All those concerned with independent education welcome the opportunity to read these distinctive statements, and a sponsoring school thereby furthers not only recruitment, but also public relations in general.
The most complete and meaningful presentation of a school is achieved through the editors independent report in conjunction with the schools own statement of purpose in an Illustrated Announcement. The one is objective reporting of facts; the other is an individualized account of each schools philosophy, policy and spirit. These two views provide a perspective that cannot be achieved by either alone.