lawn signs: beauty or blight?

This debate cropped up recently on the usually peaceful Mt. Airy Parents Network (MAPN) over the last few weeks.  One commenter lamented that the season was upon us when all sorts of school lawn signs would clutter our neighborhoods.  This comment started a firestorm of both sincere and snarky replies.  I’ve been a member of MAPN for a few years.  It is a great resource and a wonderful community.  I honestly can’t remember seeing a single other controversy since I’ve been reading.  So it led me to wonder, why did lawn signs (of all things) become such a hot-button issue?

I will admit that I am all for the lawn signs.  In moderation, of course.  We’re relative newbies to the area (two years green), and being able to visualize where some of the people in our neighborhood sent their children to school was immensely helpful to me in narrowing down schools.  I want my children to go to the best school I can dream of, but I also want them to go to school with other children in our neighborhood.  We do indeed have a sign on our front lawn.

But I totally understand the people who are against lawn signs too.  Who cares where you send your kids to school?  Our nieghborhoods are not meant to be advertising platforms for (mostly) private schools.  School signs have even gone missing in Mt. Airy; these crimes against property have shocked several readers.

But while I can understand both sides of the issue, I guess what I’m wondering is why this issue?  Is there something else the signs or the controversy symbolize?  How can a parenting community who can be supportive over both sides of the nursing/bottle-feeding debate be split by something so seemingly minor?

Although the John S. Jenks School in Chestnut Hill created fabulous lawn signs last fall, all of the other lawn signs root for private schools.  I wonder whether this might this be the real emotion underlying the debate?   The tricky reality is that many, many people in the GAP area choose to send their children to private schools.

Readers…your thoughts?

(If you’d like to join the Mt. Airy Parents Network, you can request to join the google group at  You will find tons of useful information about parenting kids in this area, but be warned: yard sign discussions have been officially closed there!)

3 thoughts on “lawn signs: beauty or blight?

  • Cheri

    Thoughtful comments. I wondered the same thing too when reading the debate on MAPN. And I agree that many many MANY other neighborhood issues seem more important (the condition of sidewalks, garbage in the street, yard maintenance, snow shoveling, etc.) — not to mention local and national issues of importance. Perhaps you’re right. The public-private school debate would be a good one to address head on.

  • Anonymous

    I was just discussing the issue of private vs. public with a friend visiting from another state (who lives in the suburbs with excellent schools). We live in a general neighborhood with more “academic-types” than any other neighborhood in this country. I’m sorry that I can’t cite the source of this quote, but I read this in the last couple of years. It seems to me that with the support of our community we could have some of the best schools in the country. I am openly a strong supporter/advocate of public schools, yet realize that sometimes other options do need to be explored. As a community I feel that many of us do not even give the public schools a chance, and we do not rally behind our schools and teachers. How disappointing.

    For those who are working to build stronger communities around the public school – keep up the hard work!!

  • Nica

    The truth is that not every school is right for every child. Some children thrive in some public schools and others don’t. Other children find that some of the private school settings work for them. Many families do both. This debate is also reminiscent of the mothers who work outside the home vs. those who don’t debate. We adults get so caught up in seeing things in black or white, right or wrong. It’s what’s in the best interest of the children that matters.


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