Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part 3: Decision Time

Part 3 of our Kindergarten Odyssey

Beginning with the Kennedy Academy Cattle Call , and followed by parts two and three , I have shared the process of enrolling our daughter into Kindergarten for the next academic year. This has turned out to be a very different process for Paddy and me than it was for my parents.

Growing up in Evanston, IL (District 65), my parents probably walked the two blocks to Willard Elementary School and registered me. Because I was born in the first half of the calendar year, I was placed in afternoon Kindergarten. Willard would have been the obvious choice. That school system was very good and remains so today.

In our case as parents, we considered four public school magnet programs, our neighborhood school, one charter school and two private school options. The private schools were terrifically expensive, and I'm a firm believer in participating in the public school system - unless there's serious evidence that doing so will harm your child's chances for a good outcome.

If everyone withdraws their advantaged child from the public school system it will soon become a Medicaid version of education. That's what people like Bush and Daniels are shooting for. The children in it will be from poor families, or developmentally challenged, or both. Class sizes which work fine for kids "ready to learn" don't work so well with kids who only eat at school, or have dysfunctional family lives or worse. The anemic Title 1 programs can't keep up with the current circumstances - there is no chance of them being able to handle every kid in every public school.

I've made this sound like a simple decision, but it isn't. It's very hard. Where does the line of your child's outcome intersect with you being a responsible citizen? I'd only suggest that it should be thought about carefully.

We have the incredible advantage of a good neighborhood school. Sarah will be able to meet kids in her neighborhood (as I did), whom she can form friendships with, invite here, etc. She will be going to Hay Primary Center.

But let's say we were living in my house on Dayton St., and the neighborhood school was Lincoln - everything would be different. The neighborhood school option wouldn't be nearly so attractive - we'd likely pick another option. All because we lived a few miles away from where we do; though in the same school system.

So I'll be happy Sarah's at Hay, and I'll be thinking about how we can make all our neighborhood schools more like Hay.

Update:  Hay received a "D" rating from the Indiana DOE for the 2011-2012 academic year.  A total crock.

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