I can get a little carried away with research. When Hubby and I were considering buying a car, I spent hours researching vehicles and made a spreadsheet of all our options. When we wanted to buy a house I schlepped Princess and my poor realtor to about a zillion potential homes. When my OB wanted to induce my labor with Caveman I scoured the Internet for the pros and cons of induction. Don’t even get me started on the circumcision debate. It wasn’t pretty, and it involved charts and graphs.
Now Princess is starting Kindergarten in the fall. Any guesses how I’m handling that?
I have read “school accountability report cards” of nearly every elementary school in our district (there are 16). I’ve been on a tour of the parent participation school and set one up for our local school. I’ve called and emailed various private schools about their tuition and fees (ouch, that’s off the list). I’ve talked to parents, emailed the superintendent, and spent a lot of time thinking about what to do.
I’m still not sure.
It’s not even really up to me. I filled out the paperwork for her to attend the parent participation school, but admission is by lottery so who knows if she will be accepted or not. Since private school is out and homeschooling is not for me, if she doesn’t get in there the next choice is our local school. And it is a good school. It’s fine. This is not a Waiting for Superman situation or anything.
It’s just that I’m not sure it’s good enough for Princess. And the fact that I feel that way makes me feel like a giant, elitist hypocrite.
I am a product of the public school system. With the exception of two years spent at a private women’s college, my entire education has been through public schools and universities. I spent eight years teaching in public schools. I believe in public education—in the opportunity it gives to all children, in the dedication of most public school teachers, and in the need for good public education in a democracy. I know that children who attend public schools can receive wonderful educations. But now that we’re talking about my actual children, I have doubts.
I have doubts about any mere mortal’s ability to truly educate 25-30 five-year-olds without assistance. I have doubts about public schools being able to implement and sustain meaningful, brain-based, individualized educational programs when school funding is being slashed right and left. I have doubts about the validity of standardized testing, the teaching methods employed by schools striving to make “adequate yearly progress,” and the ability of an overburdened, underfunded public school system to nurture MY child. I didn’t have these doubts before I had children. I didn’t have them as a teacher. But I have them now. And I have worry.
I worry that Princess, who is generally well-behaved and will probably meet proficiency standards, will be easy to ignore. I worry that she won’t learn to think critically, to creatively solve problems, or to value knowledge for knowledge’s sake. I worry that she won’t have access to art, music, or a librarian. I realize that I am her parent and her most important teacher, and that goes a long way to compensate for lack of funding and enormous class size, but I still worry.
Part of me knows that by this time next year I will be laughing at how worked up I got over this. Wherever Princess ends up in school will be fine. She’ll make friends. She’ll learn and grow. I’ll volunteer. We’ll make the school into what she needs, and we’ll supplement as needed at home. It will be fine. She will be fine. I will be fine.
Boy, do I feel sorry for Princess’s teacher. Whoever you are, I apologize. I am going to be a giant pain. Please don’t ban me from the classroom. Give me a project—if it involves full-color charts and graphs you may not hear from me for months.