Last month, I invited readers to give me their opinions about Lake Highlands schools; their reasons for choosing public or private school; their support or lack thereof for RISD; and any related topics, such as whether the O.J. trial will unseat “Gunsmoke” as the longest running television series, or if Anna Nicole Smith will rebound too soon from her grief over her oil tycoon-husband Howard Marshall’s recent death and try to marry George Burns.

Inquiring minds want to know.

But seriously, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of responses I received and am appreciative of the kindly and one not-so-kindly letters, faxes and phone messages.

Bottom line: Most respondents have kids in and are supportive of RISD. Some parents are just starting, but others have been around for several years.

Some excerpts:

“Our children have grown intellectually, physically, socially and morally while in public school…Devoted parents will help any child learn. Dedicated parents will make any school outstanding.”

“The RISD school district offers programs and curriculum to meet all the needs of my children.”

Another public-school advocate observed that public schools offer a “diverse population” that reflects the reality of society.

A Northlake Elementary parent wrote: “I do not believe there is a better education to be purchased than the education my children have received…”

Another Northlake parent submitted a dissertation that covered a lot of ground and concluded with the observation that if we all sent our kids to the local public school, “everyone would benefit.”

A group of Forest Meadow Junior High parents rattled off a laundry list of academic and extra-curricular honors and awards and closed by turning a phrase used in last month’s column back on me: “Conventional wisdom is that since our local neighborhood schools can provide challenging and rewarding educational opportunities such as these, parents are pleased to send their children to Lake Highlands area public schools.” Touche!

I even received a packet of information from RISD’s communications director (but no refrigerator magnet).

Were there any nay-sayers? Yes, but they were outnumbered.

One parent described the curriculum and learning environment of the private school she had chosen, but did not make her point by criticizing the public schools.

Another parent observed that after putting three kids through RISD during the past several years, he had witnessed a deterioration in the public-school system and considered its present condition to be “deplorable.”

He said teachers had told him they are not allowed to fail students because, if they do, they will be reprimanded. “If you want a quality education, you go to private school,” he concluded.

Of course, there was the token sorehead respondent who wanted to know how I was such an “authority on this subject.” Huh? She also wanted to banish all conservatives from our fair school district. Sounds like her welcome wagon needs an overhaul.

Although I certainly appreciate the time these folks took to respond, I wish more had addressed some of the questions I raised in my last column.

Private school tuition is expensive enough; but how dissatisfied must a parent be to choose to pay that tuition on top of school property taxes?

Would those parents who claim to be “public-school advocates” ever consider sending their kids to private school? If so, what circumstances would have to exist to prompt such a decision?

The common theme among the responses seemed to be that parents choose a school based on what they think is best for their kids. As with most decisions we make, there seems to be something implicitly beneficial about having choices.

Parents weigh the advantages and disadvantages and choose accordingly. That much is clear.

Don’t stop writing or calling. I would still like to know your answers to my questions.