Wednesday, February 1

school

i registered hiba for pre-k today.

i cannot believe that she is old enough to be going to school. (well, in a couple months.) i know that it is so cliche, but really - where has the time gone?

we still haven't completely decided if we are going to send her, but the registration is this week and to get a spot, we figured we'd go ahead and sign her up to keep our options open. one of the positive things about the little rock school district (and there aren't all that many of those) is that the pre-k programs are free and really good. the one we want to send her to is close to our house, the whole school is only pre-k, and we have several friends who have sent their kids there and have had very positive experiences.

but, as good as it is, we still aren't decided on what is the best. i've been having these theoretical conversations with friends, jason, parents, since hiba was born. where will she go to school? the answer was always that it depends on where we live, how long we plan on being there, what the schools are like, yadda yadda yadda. well, now that time is here. and even though she is registered for next year, i really have no idea what our decision is.

we have basically ruled out private schools. lots of different reasons, some that we we feel strongly about, some that we don't, but even if we wanted it to be an option it is expensive. and i don't want to pay that much money for elementary school.

so that leaves home school and public school. home school, for me right now, is a pretty definite no. i don't know that i can be hiba's teacher. we just kind of clash. i think we will have a much better relationship in the long run if i don't try. there are lots of great home school groups and options in the little rock area that would make it easier, but really i just don't want to. i'm not a "teacher" kind of mom. we don't do crafts. we don't do any sort of lesson time now. we barely make it to story hour at the library on a regular basis. and i know that with some support, that could change, but it just doesn't interest me.

but the problem is that we live in little rock. and the truth is that the schools just aren't great here. that may be an understatement. there are good schools. there are good teachers. there are good administrations. but there are also a lot of problems. our neighborhood elementary school is not my first choice. it is one of the worst performing schools in the state. like bottom ten. i know people who have their kids there or who have sent their kids there, but what i hear is pretty much the same story - the kids are nice, the teachers are good, but the parents are so uninvolved that the kids are so far behind that it leave the teachers no choice but to teach what is necessary. it doesn't matter how good of a teacher you are - if you have a class full of kindergartners who don't know what sounds letters make, you have to teach that first no matter what the curriculum says. and it doesn't matter how involved i am in that school - if other parents aren't, it is not going to make a huge difference.

now, that's not to say that all the parents there are uninvolved. but that is what seems to be true about the majority. and we knew that would be an issue when we chose to live where we do. we knew school would be a hard decision. i just didn't know it would sneak up on us so soon.

but here we are. next year is full of good options. if she gets into the school we want her to go to, great. we will strongly consider sending her. and if we don't like it - either the school or the idea of school - we can pull her out, no harm done, we'll start over in kindergarten. if she doesn't get in there, she can stay home another year and i'm not really worried about that affecting her academic career.

but, one short year away is the year of decisions. public or home? magnet school or neighborhood school? what about charter schools? which magnet school? what is plan b if she doesn't get into one? home school group or on our own? un-schooling? do i try to go back to work so jason can home school the kids? do i suck it up and home school them for a few years and hope we move?

and the choice isn't just about education. because honestly, we can supplement at home what she doesn't learn in school. i am not worried about one or two years in an under-performing school ruining her chances of getting into college. because, for us, the choice is much bigger than that. it's about being where we live. it's about social justice. it's about making a positive change in the community that we have chosen to surround ourselves with. it's about having our kids be around people who are different than them and in a place that is representative of where we really live. and it is a balancing act between ideals and reality, principles and necessity, great plans and the realistic needs of your kids.

so that's where my thoughts are today. and probably will be for the next year. any thoughts? advice? people who have sent their kids to little rock schools - what did you think? parents who have sent their kids through less-than-stellar districts?

because we only have a year to decide. and apparently that is not really that long. 

1 comment:

Erin said...

I have been having this same conversation with myself these days.....