Friday, June 10, 2011

Some School Decisions

Well, we've decided about Huckleberry's school.  We are going to enroll him in them all and decide in September.   Whew, the pressure is off!

Actually, we have eliminated a few choices which does make things a little easier and we will be enrolling him in two options.

First, we will not be sending him to the other school that is not in our district but has the honors program he can get in.  We do not know a single parent satisfied with that school, the test scores are abysmal, and almost everyone that qualifies for honors is choosing the school we do want him in (thus the wait list) so they will be filling the honors class from general enrollees in the school.  The only plus is that is very close to Oak's work so transportation would be the easiest.  It is nice to have made one decision.

We also won't be homeschooling.  I think it would be fun to homeschool Huckleberry (either through an on-line program or a full homeschool curriculum and co-op) but my husband and Huckleberry are completely against it.  It is still our "back-up" plan if public school does not work for one of our children, but we are not starting next year with it in place.

That leaves three options that we are still praying about and exploring.

The first is Huckleberry attending the Middle School his friends will be at but not in the honors program.  I worry about the divide of being at school with your friends but not in classes with them.  He does not worry about it.  The test scores of this school are actually above par for our area and they have a "Pre-AP" track for those who don't fit in honors or have not taken the placement tests but enter the school with good grades.  Huckleberry visited the school with his classmates today and asked about the Pre-Ap track.  They informed him he will be taught the same stuff as his friends but it will be with different teachers so some of the projects will be different.  Huckleberry's enrollment papers are currently in place to go this route.  However, this will ONLY work if they have enough room for an out-of-district student in the school at all.  This we will not know until late June (after school is out and they start planning next year's enrollment).  If he can get in, it will probably be an adequate education and a safe-ish place to attend 6th grade (are there any safe places left?)

The second option still on the table is attending a Middle School in our district.  We (Oak, Huckleberry, and I) went to an information night about one of the Middle Schools last night and were very excited about what it has to offer.  It is the only school in our district we would enroll him in--there is one other that we have heard very good things about, but it is over a half hour drive away.  The school we visited has 8 classes, 4 a day, and 4 of them are core and 4 are electives.  There are 32 different electives offered including robotics and media arts.  It looked very innovative and exciting.  HOWEVER, this program began last fall with a complete overhaul of the staff and teachers (only 3 remain from the year before).  The test scores from the school are beyond abysmal, but that is the reason they received all the funding and complete restructure.  There are not yet any scores from this year to tell if the change actually worked.  How much of the 19% pass of 6th grade math in 2010 was the programming and how much of it is the general population it serves?  Last year, after the new programming and administration, they had a big "fight club" scandal involving 9 six graders.  Is it okay to be a little freaked out by that?

After visiting both schools Huckleberry is more excited about the second one.  He liked the ones his friends will attend okay, but he said, "there isn't anything special about it except the people were nice, but they were nice at the other school, too.  I can learn more at the other school with their cool classes even if the other students aren't interested."  Oh, and did I mention the biggest class at the second school is currently 17 students and they expect to max out at 21 students per class with some classes having as little as 11 children.  The first school runs 30-35 per class.

Not easy, huh?  Or do you think it is clear?  We don't mind advice, just don't be mad if we don't necessarily follow it.

Oak has a third solution he is still interested in.  Move into the 3rd school district in the area, the best around, by next fall.  We could do it, but it is a lot of work and we'd have to get this house ready to sell while finishing our adoption paperwork and living life.  He is basing this solely on test scores, but it hard not to when you look at the school Huckleberry should go to based on where we live and have 33% pass 6th grade math compared to the schools in the other district having all categories passed in at least the 60% to some in the 95% passing.  Oh, he is also basing it on the fact that it is where all the houses are for sale--lots of people "stretched" to live in the good school district and are now being forced to sell--and we would like a bigger house.  It is right to take advantage of their misfortune?  Too late for most, the banks have already foreclosed. 

Since moving takes time and energy and just might not work, our current plan is to put in the paperwork to enroll Huckleberry at both of our first two choices, keep looking at houses, and pray, pray, and pray.  The schools seemed to think that was a reasonable thing to do though it seems a little misleading to me.

In the meantime, if you don't mind praying with us for God's clear leading that would be very helpful.  Personally I think God might be leading us to the re-vamped school in our district since we got the notice about no honors the same day as the last information meeting about the school for the year and were able to find a friend to watch the littler kiddos.  Plus Huckleberry's enthusiasm for it and the possibilities offered there remain strong even knowing his friends won't be there.  However, even clearer direction and for Oak to hear the same needs to happen before we make a final decision (Oak wants to see the 2011 test results first).  

Really, very few 6 graders are killed and Huckleberry is one secure kid--he'll be fine.  He'll be fine.  He'll be fine.      


Julie said...

God can definitely give you peace about the way He would have you go. He can also let you make your own decision and simply bless whichever you choose because you are good and loving parents who seek the best for your (His) children and want to do His will.

Ginger said...

Big decisions! As a teacher, my first advice would be to find a teacher at each school who will level with you about the atmosphere/curriculum/administration. Test scores are only one part of the story.

Merrill said...

The decisions about schools are so hard! I'm an elementary school teacher and have agonized over school choice for my daughter in years past. There are so many factors to consider, and test scores are just one piece of the puzzle. School are so much more (or less) than the test scores. Praying you come to a decision that everyone has peace with!