SCHOOL DAZE

I dread this time of year, not because of the weather, but because I have to make Major Life Decisions that affect my children.

Right now both girls attend private school. In an ideal world, next year they would both attend the school that Tigger Girl (2nd grader) currently goes to. But it is not an ideal world, because we don’t have enough money.

I’ll call the institution in question Outrageously Expensive School (OES). Tigger has been there for 5 years now, and it has been a positive experience. She’s had small classes, attentive teachers, challenging work, and a marvelous gang of friends, every one of whom has educated, concerned, involved parents. She’s comfortable there and so am I.

Little Bit goes to a Montessori preschool now. That’s been a positive experience too, but for reasons I won’t go into, I don’t think another year there would be ideal.

There’s that word again. Ideal. How much is it reasonable to spend, what can you responsibly sacrifice, in order to obtain the Ideal school situation for your kids?

We can swing OES for the kids next year, but the financial impact will be severe. And it is not clear we can keep them there beyond next year by any means.

The obvious other option, public school, is not favored by me or by Technogeek. The classes would be bigger, the teachers spread thinner, the classwork less advanced, and so on.

But would it be adequate? In the grand scheme of things, would it matter that much? Is OES worth the back-breaking cost?

I know what some of you are thinking. Why Jodi, didn’t you used to be a teacher? Why don’t you homeschool?

Bite your tongues! The very idea makes me break out in claustrophobic hives. I love my kids very much. They are wonderful and I want the best for them. But I only recently regained an identity of my own (instead of being “Tigger and Little Bit’s mom”) for a few hours a day. I am loath to give it up.

Would they fare better at home? I doubt it. Yes, I could teach them more, in less time, than they learn in school. But the school experience includes much more. At school they must navigate their way through their experiences without Mom hovering about. They have a peer group to play and learn with. They have the resources of the school and multiple teachers available to them. And yes, they have a happier mother.

And so, OES it is. Now Transvestite_Rabbit needs to quit screwing around with the penny-ante writing biz and make some serious bucks. Anyone want to hire an opinionated blogger?

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29 thoughts on “

  1. Blah, Xanga is eating my comments!  (if you accidentally get more than one if these, I’m sorry…)
    Oy.  My mom pretty much did break her back to put me and my older sister through private school, though I opted out after eight years, and went to a public HS….I dunno, I didn’t really appreciate it then, but I certainly do now.  However, if it would result in financial hardship for you, along with too much stress, then perhaps that public school route is best.  You can help them at home if you must, but your family life will be much more peaceful.

  2. Ah, Montessori preschool… I wanted to send my son there when he was little and when it was brand new, but being a lowly and poor student myself in those days, I could never afford it. I say, if there is any way in the world to keep your kids in private school, then fight tooth and nail to do it. If you do pull them out and put them in public schools, then be prepared to supplement their educations. During those years, being the busy little student that I was, I didn’t have as much time to spend teaching him what he wasn’t learning in public schools. What my son learned there: that he didn’t have to apply himself to get passing grades. He was in for a rude awakening when he got to college. But alas, after almost flunking out, he pulled himself together, got into a very good private college (for which Mom had to pay a fortune… hell, he could have gone to Yale or Harvard for the price it cost!!). But all’s well that ends well, I guess. He got the education I wanted, and he vindicated me for my neglect during his earlier years.

  3. You can get a great education in a not-so-great school and a lousy education in a wonderful school.  Kids often learn in spite of school, not because of it.  Good luck.

  4. That previous comment says it all.  I’m from a long line of public school kids. If your parents read and show interest, that goes a long way.  If the public school is dangerous or classes are disruptive then I wouldn’t think about it.  Otherwise, there are plenty of life lessons in public education such as how to self motivate and how to get along with all sorts of people.  My kids went to a school where mentally handicapped kids were mainstreamed.  It gave them insights they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

  5. I think the most important factor in a child’s education is not so much which school they go to; but parental involvement. If you are interested in what the kid is learning in school and help with his/her homework, you are doing far more than a lot of parents do. Plus you can “supplement” topics the public school tends to pass over quickly. For example: when my daughters were learning about our country’s westward expansion I made sure they learned at home about the displacement of Native American peoples.
    Try out the public school. If worse comes to worse then you might want to homeschool. Who knows, maybe you’ll win the lottery and be able to keep them in private school!

  6. Hey – if you find work for opinionated bloggers – please let me know where. Please! Oh Please. Right now my twins go to a private pre-k and since I am not bringing in much of the bucks here, it’s definitely tighter financially around our house.Next year, the twinset will start kindergarten (which is weirding me out a bit, which is surprising for me.) Fortunately, our township’s public schools are really good, so I am hopeful. I, too, love my kids but homeschooling isn’t an option because they really need the socialization. And I need it too (with adults, that is.)I hope that you can work this out for your kids. Any chance of you winning the lottery or getting an inheritance from some long lost relative whom you never even knew?

  7. We are lucky, our public school system is among the best in the nation. So we really never even gave an expensive private situation a thought. But I do agree with above comments that maybe you should consider your quality input along with the schools themselves–don’t overlook the many good things about public education.

  8. I am right there with you.  This is definitely THAT time of year.  Now that we have four, I wonder if I’ve painted myself into a corner with this homeschool business.  I love it, but we could really use (read that NEED) some extra income. . . But private school for 4 kids?  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.

  9. We pulled our kids out of the public schools for various different reasons.  One of them, a straight A student, with alot of friends, asked to be moved.  That confirmed what we already knew going through the middle school with our daughter.  We struggle to make the private school work, and it is a hardship, but in the end, I know my kids are getting a good education and they are disciplined in a positive manner rather than a negagative one.  I guess you just have to weigh the options.  If we could move to another district, we would, and then we would put them back in public schools.

  10. My children have attended both Public and Private schools.  My son (the “brainiac”) excelled in both institutions… my daughter (the “party pleaser”) continues to “use” school primarily for entertainment purposes (rarely choosing to apply herself).   As long as the school in question is able to provide a safe environment conducive to learning, I’m not convinced that a private institution is any better than a public institution.

  11. I tried putting my kids in public school and it ruined them. Then I put them in private school and found out that it is public school — with a better curriculum. So now I am homeschooling. Don’t feel bad about not wanting to homeschool, though; it’s not for everyone. My sister was a high school math teacher (and what is more difficult than teaching teenagers math?) but she could NOT homeschool her 3 boys. They ended up going to private school and she worked for the school to cut down on the price of admission. Two very different ways, but our respective kids are content in the choices.

  12. My girls played in a June piano recital at OES for several years and the kids from that school were wonderful.  My children went to Capitol Hill and Wilson, and my friend who moved to Lake Oswego so her kids could go there said she wouldn’t send her dog to Capitol Hill.  I’ll never forget her saying that and at the time I disagreed for obvious reasons (I gather you know Lake Oswego)  There’s more pressure to succeed and less diversity.  And the only difference in drugs is that there’s more coke and presciption drugs.  I think OES would be a good choice no matter how much it cost if you have children who would thrive in that environment. 

  13. I don’t think I would ever homeschool my kids, simply for the fact that going to school isn’t just about educating them from the books, but educating them in terms of social interaction. I think you have to be careful about limiting their exposure to kids their age, or you risk seriously screwing up their ability to function socially. Life’s complex enough as it is without handicapping a kid.
    Me, I went to private school. And I loved it. The curriculum was tough, the teachers really cared, and I loved my classmates. I still think of them now and again, wondering what they’re doing nearly 10 years later.

  14. With me, it’s all I can do to save for future college/university expenses.  But you’re right, the public school system is sadly lacking.  I help my daughter out alot and that seems to work here.  There’s just not enough individual attention in the public system.  Very easy to believe when you hear of graduates not being able to read or write well.

  15. Huh. We are in the same situation with our baby boy. He can go to a pre-school at our church but its expensive and we want to be able to afford it but arent sure if we should take the step or not..etc etc. Same situation . Funny I came across your post for today. Im pretty sure we’ll do it..It will be good for him. I hate that money is such an issue when it comes to things like these. However, in California they have grants that you can use to send your kids to any school you want and the state pays for it. Ahem, we make too much money for that option though..Whatever. im rambling now.

  16. Oh, how familiar I am with this dilemma…I’m a public school kid, since fifth grade.  Before that I was reading “The Old Man and the Sea” as a third-grader, and generally learning how to be an intellectual geek in private school.  Public school was a rude awakening, but to my way of thinking, any kind of awakening is a good thing.
    I’m with you on homeschooling…putting aside what’s best for the kids, that’s a sacrifice I’m simply not going to make with my own life.  I’d sooner hire a private governess (do they have those, these days??).  Private school…well…on the one hand, it seems to be a quieter, gentler, more academic, more sheltered road to private college and middle class success.  On the other hand, it’s a really good way to drop several hundreds of thousands of dollars that you could have spent on college and retirement.
    Our son had a rocky start, developmentally speaking, so we opted for public school merely because they MUST give him an education, like it or not, without testing him first.  Now that he is blossoming, we question our judgment in this matter.  Ultimately, it comes to this:  we read and travel and use good vocabulary and express interest in geeky things like museums and history and PBS, so our children will probably learn to find these things interesting as well, regardless of where they go to school.  So we might as well save the money and send them to public school.

  17. I completely understand your trepidation with public school. My children have always attended public school, though I worked for a private school for several years, I didn’t see any benefit. There are outstanding teachers everywhere, in all schools, as there are also “so so” or okay, middle ground teachers. I suppose if the private school was very art or music focused, then I too would seriously consider spending the money. Public schools get better in this arena as your children get older. Both my kids are in junior high so the music and arts program is five days a week versus two in elementary school.If you end up going public school, just research the teachers. Ask other parents who they love and who they didn’t. That’s what we did. My children have been blessed with some of the most amazing teachers. You know the ones? They go out on a limb to bring knowledge and kindness and patience to their students. They get to know them individually. They spend their own money to further the learning experience. My kids have had teachers that they talk about five and six years later.Good luck. We all want the best for our kids. Good for you for looking for it.~lisa

  18. Good luck with your kids and their schooling. I have none (kids that is, plenty of schooling) so cannot offer advice. I’m curious though about the type of freelance writing that you do. You’re probably far more established than me, but maybe I can turn you onto some online resources. Or spark some ideas.

  19. Billion Dollar Babies.I used to LOOOVE that album.Never upgraded it to 21st Century technology, however.One of these days. —-kaz

  20. If you live in an area where the public school is safe and reasonable well funded, you should have no worries.  As several of the previous posters mentioned, there are excellent schools in both the public and private sectors.  I’m a product of public schools, and I’ve taught in a public school for 20 years.  It’s hard for public schools to provide the kind of individual attention the private schools can. But a child who attends regularly and whose school experiences are supplemented by committed parents and an enriching home life is very, very likely to succeed, or excel.  And even though I’m an experienced teacher, I would never consider homeschooling my kids.  It would have been a disaster for everyone involved.  My hat’s off to those who do it successfully!  Best of luck!

  21. I homeschooled L until last year. She’s a sophomore in high school now. Though we’re not thrilled with some teachers, some are really great. Private schools here are waaaaaaay too expensive and we’d rather save the money for college.

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