Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kindergarten Enrollment...what?

Thursday we attended open house at one of the possible schools Sunflower will attend next year for Kindergarten.  It is our home school and third choice.  But if we do not find a new house in another district, it may become our only choice.  So we needed to visit.

And we did really enjoy 2 out of the 3 Kindergarten teachers that we met.  The other one is probably fine, too, but she seemed a little less sold on her own school and kept saying slightly snarky things...for example "the science curriculum gives us snails, which I don't like and the kids put water in them today so now I have to clean it."

But one of the teachers we actually really, really liked.  She spent time interacting with Sunflower, playing on the floor with her and other children, asking her about numbers and colors.  She answered questions about Kindergartner readiness and whether or not to hold back an August birthday.  She took time to evaluate Sunflower's ease of seperating from us when we went to look at another classroom, cleaning up after herself, and patience to sit still to finish a puzzle in her answer.

No.  The problem we find with our school choices have not been the teachers.  But while the bus to this school comes straight to our door; literally the bustop is our driveway and has been for years; it is a school that on paper is failing.  Passing test scores are on in the 20s and sometimes the Teens.  We went to an open house for a program that next fall will be serving 75 Kindergartners...and 5 children were represented (only 4 families as there was a set of twins.)  And there is more...

But listing the problems doesn't solve our problem.  It is on our list because it is the school that will have to accept Sunflower.  It is close and will bus her.  It is not significantly worse than the other schools around us.  Our first choice is the school her brothers attended for K-3rd, but it is not our district and has less Kindergarten classes than it did when they went, so there just might not be space for her.  2nd choice is the school Huckleberry went to for 4-5, and SnapDragon (as an out of district student) will attend if there is a space for him in the Excell (Honors) Program.  Then at least we would have two children at the same school for the first time ever.  

Our other options are moving, but that takes work, money, and a house in the right spot coming on the market.  Or we can drive even more distance to maybe slightly better schools.  Or we could homeschool (which I believe is a solution for some, but currently not us.)

So my point...I am presently quite at peace with it all.  God certainly has a plan for my daughter's schooling and she will learn to read no matter where she attends.  Being in the safest, richest neighborhoods does not guarantee safety in this world we live in.  Attending a school where Caucasian is a minority and 80% of the families wonder how they will pay for dinner will not make her a Kindergarten gang member. 

But while I feel my choices are limited by our gas budget, schedule, and energy level, I cannot help but feel for families who have no choice but to send their child to their assigned public school no matter how poor the scores are.  I've heard the argument that if you REALLY care you can always enroll your child elsewhere, but reality is that is NOT an option for everyone.  Spots get filled by other students.  Transportation is not provided when you choose another school.  Working parents cannot homeschool their child.

So at what point do you feel defeated and just stop caring?  We are no where near that ourselves, but I can see why others may be.  Sure there are some that never cared, but I think a lot of parents do care...they just cannot risk losing their one income in order to take a day off for a field trip.  They cannot include 3 different school runs into the schedule for their one car.  (We currently have 3 children in three different non-bussing schools which has made this year a lot of driving.)

I listen to debates about Mandarin Immersion and Chinese Nannies and this charter school vs that one...and I wish those were what I was contemplating.  At times.

But my child's education is more than numbers and reading (which so far they have received in these low rated schools just fine and we could supplement at home).  It is also about seeing injustice, caring, compassion, and doing something about it.

So as we pray for God's direction and His doors to open or shut in Sunflower's enrollment, we are not just seeking where she is going to learn her ABC's (which she already knows), we are asking, what do we need to do to enroll too?  Who can I get to take Sweet Pea so my involvement can be what it was when the boys were little?  What difference can our family make in a system that is broken, inequitable, and failing its students?  Where can we make the most impact?

Sure someday I may need to homeschool one of my children to help them succeed, but in the meantime they are thriving in public school.  My goal is to not only work to encourage their continued success but maybe also to help another child or two and their family thrive also.  

But I will admit that when I pray, I do lean a little toward the school and teachers I already know and love...though not my will, but God's.
But who wouldn't love to teach this child?  She will do great.  It is getting me to act on my convictions that worries me.

1 comment:

Steve & Sarabeth said...

I love this post :) Whichever school she ends up in, the school and people in it will benefit from having your family there!