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Monday, February 16, 2009

Dilemma

I have been thinking a lot lately about my kids education. I am reasoning myself out of my mind. I have never wanted my kids in public school, not that I think the education is bad, it's the "extra" stuff I don't like. There is way too much social indoctrination in public schools now and more and more they are having to cater to the least common denominator in the class. I am aiming to private school some day, but financially we're not there.

Here is what I know. I am a fan of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. I have thought long and hard about homeschooling, but it wouldn't work. I don't have that kind of patience, my son doesn't have the personality, and we are a bit too much alike. It would be nothing but unproductive head-butting. I want him to have really intensive science and math courses, because he is really interested in the subjects, but I don't want to lose the arts and other topics. I (and Jason will be happy I wrote this) also want the standard stuff like sports.

Options for next year???
1. Stay in the public school --
Pros -- close with easy carpooling, he's used to it, I'm used to it
Cons -- the above pros feel like a big cop-out, Due to the boundaries included in
the school there seem to be quite a few "least common denominators" in
each class, mostly due to the parent/family/social situations, the
science/math programs so far have not seemed particularly strong

2. Magnet School -- There are a couple around. I have particularly looked at a science/math magnet school that wouldn't be that bad of a commute.
Pros -- strong science and math, really good school...their stats are awesome and
they get the kids involved in a lot
Cons -- Do I really want his education that focused? What if he's also awesome at
music, history, or something else? Sure this place teaches those subjects,
too, but likely not as much or as encouraging. No real sports/PE programs,
Also - and this is shallow, I know - looking at the brochure, the kids look
like geeks. He makes me hesitant. I want my kids to be well-rounded and
socially adept.

3. Charter school -- There is a new charter school opening nearby. It is an IB program.
Pros -- I like the IB, it is not too far, a lot of the LDS parents around here are
applying, more rounded education without focus in any particular area
Cons -- Unsure if the education is as intensive, Right now, Only goes up to 5th
grade (not that I even know where we'll be 5 years from now), It's new, so I
don't have stats or other parents to talk to,

Like I said, I'm stuck. What do you think? What are your education plans for your kids? Am I being way to Type A/obsessive stressing this much about it in Kindergarten? I don't know. It seems better that thinking about it later on and missing some opportunities or having him not as far along as he could be. Dilemma...

3 comments:

Irish Cream said...

I started looking at schools for kindergarten when Zoë was 4!

I looked at parochial schools- there's a great Catholic school not too far from our house that all of our neighbors (pretty much) send their kids to. It's a great school, and they've done really well teaching their students. Then I learned what it would cost. GULP! That was WAAAY out of our budget. Then I found out more about the school, and talk about indoctrination- not to the least common denominator, but definitely to Catholicism (All those SAINTS!). They apparently also have mass daily, which wouldn't be so bad, but might take a bit of explaining to our 5-year-old, and she's rather blunt about her opinions; she once told our Catholic friends that they didn't go to the true church, OUR church is the only true church. Hmmmm.

The public school we're "zoned" for is one I KNEW I didn't want Zoë to go to- a very culturally un-diverse population i.e. all black and mostly poor. Worse, it has HORRIBLE test scores, poor student-teacher ratios, and poor performances. I just was worried that Zoë would be one to "fall through" the cracks because teachers were more worried about the other kids.

I also looked at putting her in private Kindergarten at her current preschool. It is an AMAZING program, and I signed her up- as a fall back. I would only be delaying the inevitable by putting her there.

My first choice required an admissions process- a form filled out by a current teacher, a parental evaluation, and an exam for the potential enrollee. It was a nerve-wracking couple of months until she was accepted. This school as the highest scores in the state of Indiana (I think 97% of the students "pass" the state test). It has a good student-teacher ratio, and they have "flex" groups where kids are divided according to their skill level so each group of kids gets the same help/instruction that is needed (more or less). It is a "magnet" school, and heavy on the sciences, but I don't mind that emphasis- they still have "art" and "music" and "Spanish" and they are reading and writing as well.

I'm sorry this is such a long post, but I really think it's hard NOT to worry about the school your kid attends these days. I'm sure that no matter where your kids attend, they are so stinkin' smart they'll excel in whatever they do (look at their over-achiever-type parents!) :) But worry on (I say that only because I know you will), and shoot for the "best".

Visit the schools, see what vibe you get from the visit. Ignore the principle, but pay attention to teachers/classrooms. Ask other parents of kids who attend the school(s) (the ward is GREAT for that!). And then, pray.

G'luck! I'm eager to see where your grown-up kid will go to school!

Shelly said...

Good to know I'm not alone. Trust me, I've been thinking about this for a few years and only held off truly looking because we didn't know where we would be. In fact, we didn't really know we'd be here until 2-3 weeks before kindergarten started.

A lot (LOT!!) of the people in ward here homeschool and are huge proponents of doing so---to the point it frustrates those like me that just don't see it as a viable option. (I actually had one person tell me that I'd be able to homeschool my son if I "had a better bond with him" -- rather insulting..)

I'm going to go check out the magnet school and talk to the charter school people a bit more. Part of me says I can always move him if things are working out, but I want him to have stability and not be switching around a lot.

Bill and Mel said...

That's a tough one. For us, we're just where we are until Billy's done with school. Then I know I'll be looking into our options wherever we are going. Emily will get up through 3rd grade here, but Jacob will have just a couple years of school and the rest won't matter yet. I figure we're very supportive and involved at home and I'm getting involved at school, but really that's all we can do at the moment.

I am no help, but does all this thinking mean you're staying where you are for a long time?